Objects of Discourse
Memoirs by Women of Heian Japan
Analyzes the four main tenth- and eleventh-century Heian memoirs by women for their individual characteristics and what they suggest of Heian literature more broadly.
Objects of Discourse analyzes the four main 10th- and 11th-century Heian memoirs by women for their individual characteristics and what they suggest of Heian literature more broadly. John R. Wallace treats the Heian women memoirists not as passive objects of men’s romantic play but rather as individuals who strategically confront their difficult life situations in part by writing about their experiences. Wallace further finds in the memoirs a rich resource for understanding rhetorical and structural features of Japan’s high classical period literary prose.
After taking up historical issues such as the newly developed vernacular script, pre-texts of the memoirs, and the social context of the writers, Wallace examines Gossamer Years, Lady Izumi’s Story, Lady Murasaki’s Journal, and The Sarashina Memoir for their stylistic aspects, rhetorical devices, Foucault’s “networks of power,” and narrative structure, respectively. The result is a fascinating study of Heian women writers.
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