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Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: Patronage and Literary Production in Thirteenth-Century Japan

Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Columbia University Morningside Campus 403 Kent Hall

Framed as a book talk and an introduction to new research on medieval women, this lecture will consider what we know about Japanese noblewomen of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, as well as further avenues for research. Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu (Hawaii, 2013) argues that Kamakura-period (1185-1336) court women continued to produce memoirs, tales, poetry, poetic commentary, courtly advice, and epistolary literature and shows how these activities were impacted
by shifts in the literary and sociohistorical landscape. This lecture
will demonstrate what can be gleaned from the life and literary works of one woman, Nun Abutsu (1225-1283)while expanding these findings and their implications for literary study and womens history. What can we learn about the status of women, institutional
history, and literary patronage based
on the extant writings of medieval women?
How were women involved in artistic, literary, and religious patronage? Laffin will suggest ways in which our approaches
to the study of medieval Japanese literature
and womens writings must be adapted to better encompass the range of works and lives
represented.