On Women’s Nightmares in Japanese Female Writings: The Forgotten Rebellion.
Dinh, Phuong N.
- Tisch Library Undergraduate Research Award Winner, 2014. Nightmares, particularly those of the woman, form a consistently recurring theme and motif in Japanese female writings in the 11th century and from the 19th century onwards. However, the literary women’s nightmares expand beyond a momentary neurological phenomenon: they generally refer to situations of intense sufferings that a woman wishes ... read moreto escape from, but is unable to. Their evolution in form and content reflects the changes in a woman’s relationships with her patriarchal society and, for some, her suppressed self; their propagation indicate her increasing awareness of her limited situation and her attempt to break out of it. Such a theme, if established and studied, can offer an alternative approach to understanding the social and psychological shift toward gender equality through a particular population that expressively advocates for it: women writers. However, current academic literature has yet to recognize such a phenomenon, at least not systematically. The purpose of this research paper is to establish the theme as an official literary tool among women writers within the specific context of Japanese literature. In this paper, I investigate six significant literary works by Japanese women, including one classic novel and one of its modern adaptations as well as four short stories, to prove that the theme is robust across time. I also offer some broad categorizations of nightmares, but the list is not exhaustive. This paper is based on a strong intuition, and should be considered a precursor paper to further research; the conclusion is open to criticisms and constructions. However, it is my hope to bring forward a potentially important literary device that embodies the interactions between a woman’s reality and her creative processes, which in this case produces not only literature but a social movement – a rebellion in effect.read less