To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: Reading and Empathy: Textual Analyses of Connection, Community and Critique
2: Feeling Women’s Pain: Empathy in the Works of Kirino Natsuo and Murata Sayaka
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Juliana Buriticá Alzate
International Christian University, United States
The struggle to be part of a community is a recurring theme in the works of Kirino Natsuo (b. 1951) and Murata Sayaka (b. 1979). In particular, both authors write female characters who articulate this struggle in response to the pains and frustrations of living within a patriarchal, heteronormative society. In this paper, I read selected works of fiction by both writers from the perspective of feminist scholarship that presents empathy not only as a means of relating to or imagining the suffering of another, but also as a concept that suggests a means of empowerment and strengthening bonds.
My analysis will focus on Kirino’s novel, Daku onna (Women Who Embrace, 2015), whose protagonist, Naoko, struggles to find her place within the student movement and women’s liberation movement during the early 1970s in Japan, together with Murata’s commentary on this work, "Kakusei suru itami" (Awakening Pain, 2017) in which she claims to relate to and share Naoko’s pain. As with much of both writers’ oeuvres, these works stand out for their depictions of embodiment, shared bonds and pain in the process of finding a sense of belonging to a community, not only within the literary text but also between the text and its reader. I argue that the writing of women’s pain and empathy by Kirino and Murata forges new openings and connections across generations, writers, readers, and literary works.