Convenor(s): Dr Jennifer L. Guest, Dr Linda Flores, and Professor Bjarke Frellesvig
Speaker(s): Gergana Ivanova, Associate Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at the University of Cincinnati
These seminars will occur live and will not be recorded. Unauthorized recording is strictly prohibited.
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The Many Lives of a Japanese Classic: Sei Shōnagon’s Pillow Book
This talk considers the fixed images of Japanese women writers of the distant past and the constructed nature of their literary works. Focusing on one text, The Pillow Book (Makura no sōshi, early eleventh c.), it examines interpretations of the work and images of its author Sei Shōnagon (964?–after 1027) that emerged in the years between the seventeenth and the early twentieth century. Ivanova shows that although these views of the literary work and its author were not shaped through references to historical documents and direct interactions with Sei Shōnagon’s writing, they still linger in contemporary scholarship and popular culture.
Gergana Ivanova is Associate Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at the University of Cincinnati. She holds a PhD in Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include the reception history of Japanese classical literature, early modern erotic and didactic literature, and present-day manga representations of the past. Ivanova is the author of Unbinding the Pillow Book: The Many Lives of a Classic (Columbia University Press, 2018). Last year, she edited a special section for Japanese Language and Literature on “Heian Literature in Manga” (April, 2021). Together with Jamie Newhard, she recently completed a translation of One Hundred Exemplary Women, One Poem Each (Retsujo hyakunin isshu, 1847). Ivanova’s current book project examines the eroticization of eleventh-century women writers in early modern Japan.