The Publications Program has two new titles recently printed: Terry Kawashima's Itineraries of Power: Texts and Traversals in Heian and Medieval Japan and Rebecca Doran's Transgressive Typologies: Constructions of Gender and Power in Early Tang China. Descriptions of both publications are included.
Itineraries of Power: Texts and Traversals in Heian and Medieval Japan by Terry Kawashima (University of Massachusetts-Boston)
Movements of people and groups such as travel, migration, exile, and diaspora matter greatly in thinking about relationships of power both local and global. But what of movements more literary: textual techniques such as distinct patterns of narrative flow, abrupt leaps between genres, and poetic figures that flatten geographical distance? What happens when both types of tropes – literal and literary movements – coexist? Itineraries of Power examines a selection of prose narratives and poetry from the mid-Heian to medieval eras in Japan (900 -1400), in which tropes of movement feature conspicuously. The book argues that the simultaneous appearances of the physical motion of a character in a story and literary strategies of motion are textual signposts that urge readers to pay close attention to how a text conceptualizes relations of power and claims to authority: from the gendered intersection of shifts between narrative registers and physical movements in the Heian period to a dizzying tale of travel retold multiple times in a single medieval text, motion in texts gestures toward conflicts within and alternatives to existing structures of power; texts that are crucially concerned with tropes of movement suggest that power is always simultaneously manufactured and dismantled from within.
Transgressive Typologies: Constructions of Gender and Power in Early Tang China by Rebecca Doran (University of Miami)
The exceptionally powerful Chinese women leaders of the late seventh and early eighth centuries, including Wu Zhao, the Taiping and Anle Princesses, Empress Wei, and Shangguan Wan’er, though quite prominent in the Chinese cultural tradition, have remained elusive and have often been misunderstood or essentialized throughout history. Transgressive Typologies utilizes a new, multidisciplinary approach to these figures to understand how their historical identities are constructed in the mainstream secular literary-historical tradition and to analyze the points of view that inform these constructions. Utilizing close (re)readings of primary texts written from medieval through later imperial times, the study elucidates narrative typologies and motifs associated with these women to explore how their power is rhetorically framed, gendered, and, ultimately, deemed transgressive. Author Rebecca Doran offers a new understanding of the major female figures of the Tang era within their literary-historical contexts, and also delves into critical questions about the relationship between Chinese historiography, reception-history, and the process of image-making and cultural construction.