Schoolgirl Spotting in Early-20th c. Japanese Fiction: Re-reading Mushakoji..

November 18, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Zoom

Francesca Pizarro, a PhD candidate in East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL) at UHM will present her research titled, "Schoolgirl Spotting in Early-Twentieth Century Japanese Fiction: Re-reading Mushakoji Saneatsu’s Omedetaki hito" in this webinar hosted by the Center for Japanese Studies and co-sponsored with the EALL.

Abstract: In Mushakoji Saneatsu’s Omedetaki hito [A Blessed Person, 1911], the narrator provides an account of his days spent attempting to “meet” the object of his one-sided infatuation, the schoolgirl Tsuru. However, readers quickly learn that, as a virtual stranger, he is not in fact out to “meet” but merely catch another glimpse of her. Throughout the novel, the narrator’s familiarity with the patterns of schoolgirl life, acquired through stalking Tsuru, fuels fantasies of marriage as well as acts of remembering, encountering, and envisioning her in the city.

Despite the centrality of the schoolgirl figure in the novel, the past century of critical and scholarly reception has failed to adequately examine the narrator’s experience of and movement through the urban landscape in search of the schoolgirl. Omedetaki hito’s enduring reputation as an I-novel (a work read as a direct expression of its author’s life) has rendered invisible its relationship with other literature and popular media that made the presence of schoolgirls on the roads and rails of Tokyo a staple of the cultural imaginary.

This presentation proposes a re-examination of Omedetaki hito by situating the text within popular discourses on the schoolgirl in early-twentieth century Japan. It considers how the schoolgirl, as a fixture of the cityscape, plays a defining role in structuring the novel and in representing its narrator’s anguished desire. It reveals, for the critical reader, a view of its male hero as an unsavory narrator and willful “reader” of the “text” the elusive schoolgirl inscribes upon the city.

Register in advance for this webinar, held via Zoom:

Event Sponsor
Center for Japanese Studies (CJS); East Asian Languages & Literatures (EALL), Mānoa Campus

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