Current Institutional Affiliation
Washington University

Award Information

Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Women, Aging, and Blowing Away Convention in Modem Japanese Literature

This research examines the aged women - often deemed expendable and unimportant by society - who occupy principal roles in various works of contemporary Japanese literature. Why and how does literature compel its readers to occasionally cast aside the fair maiden in order to hear out the sultry crone? By granting the aging women with unconventional inner lives and subjectivities, contemporary women writers have highlighted elderly women's powerful voices and agency. My study investigates how the lens of aging allows writers to manipulate and challenge rigid gender divisions and dualistic conceptualizations of women as pure or fallen, good or evil, and normal or abnormal. Through this research one finds that contemporary writers diverge from traditions that typically illustrate old women as weak, lonely, and socially useless characters. Thus this examination can expand on outdated scholarly work that has yet to fully explore the changing realities of elderly life in Japan and how this marginalized group is shedding its stagnated image to become an influential cultural center for society.