Christina Laffin - Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Premodern Japanese Literature and Culture, The University of British Columbia
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 (Hawai‘i, 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 women’s 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 women’s writings must be adapted to better encompass the range of works and lives represented.