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In Session: Disclosing Gender and Sexuality in Japan
Envisioning Shōjo Time and Space in Yoshiya Nobuko's Hana Monogatari [Flower Tales, 1916-1926]
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Francesca B. Pizarro
University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
In Yoshiya Nobuko’s landmark shōjo [girls] fiction collection Hana monogatari [Flower Tales], the gardens, libraries, and gymnasiums of the all-girls’ school or jogakkō are the primary settings for the expression of so-called “S-relationships,” romantic friendships between students. The stories in the collection (serialized in girls’ magazines Shōjo gahō [1916 – 1924] and Shōjo kurabu [1925 – 1926]) pay special narrative attention to the moments when girl characters usurp the time and space of official, institutionally mandated school practices in pursuit of their own physical, verbal, and textual performances of shōjo desire. The paper introduces the concept of the “shōjo chronotope” as a way to identify and examine the temporal and spatial treatment of the school setting at the moment when schoolgirl characters perform or express their shōjo subjectivities and desires. The shōjo chronotope invites readers of the stories to bear attentive witness to schoolgirls’ engagements with the institutional functions and purposes of school time and place through their actions. The paper proposes that an “interpretive community” of shōjo magazine readers, familiar with the variety of discourses shaping the representation of the all-girls’ school within girls’ magazines, are active participants in the utopian gaze embedded in the narration of the shōjo chronotope. The vision deployed by the narrator and assumed by the reader, ultimately complete the production of the utopian through their acknowledgement and appreciation of the “scenes” of shōjo desire set within and in contestation with the (institutional) time and space of school.