Dreaming Gender: Kyōgoku School Japanese Women Poets (Re)Writing The Feminine Subject

Joe Parker, Pitzer College
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Fall 2008), 259-289

Women predominated in the Kyōgoku school of Japanese court poetry during the late Kamakura period (1185-1333), and this paper analyzes the love poetry of two major poets: the relatively unknown Kyōgoku Tameko and the better known Retired Empress Eifuku. The author compares these late Kamakura poets with earlier examples from the passionate poet tradition and also draws on Judith Butler’s notion of subversive repetition of performative style to show how Tameko and Eifuku constructed a different politics of subjectivity. Eifuku’s poems at times diverge from the conventional reiteration of the woman lover’s despair late in the course of a love affair through reversed expectations and logic and through a subtle distancing from the naïve or doubting poetic subject. Tameko’s poetic personae may reject the road of longing and despair as too painful and instead turn to resenting their lover, thereby finding strength even in disappointment. The author shows how some of Tameko’s feminine speakers may question the very sense and “reality” of court love, deploying Buddhist and shamanic notions of reality to develop Other logics providing an “sense” of the feminine subject that diverges from androcentric court logic.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]