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Gergana Ivanova guest lecture: "Unbinding The Pillow Book: Gender, Adaptation, and the Life of a Japanese Classic"

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 4:30pm

Annenberg Room 111 (Changed from Stiteler B26)

adaptations of pillow book

CEAS Humanities Colloquium


The large corpus of literary works by accomplished and highly educated women writers that emerged during the Heian period (794-1185) in Japan continues to inform contemporary cultural production. Despite their seeming timelessness, these texts have elicited severe criticism and received intense praise over the centuries. This talk considers the fixed images of Japanese women writers from the distant past and the constructed nature of their works focusing on one text, The Pillow Book (Makura no sōshi, early 11th 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the seventeenth and the early twentieth century and shows that although they were not shaped through references to historical documents and direct interactions with The Pillow Book, these views still linger in contemporary scholarship and popular culture.

Gergana Ivanova is Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature at the University of Cincinnati