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Text and Textile: Unweaving the Female Subject in Heian Writing

Text and Textile: Unweaving the Female Subject in Heian Writing 1. Clothing and the Power of Difference In Heian fiction it is romantic, rather than economic, political, social, or familial activity that generates change, and so the amorous encounter stands 0 1996 by Duke University Press as the kakekotoba of prose, the pivotal trope by which new layers of meaning fold back on the narrative to spur it forward once again. T h e historical and psychological force of Heian sexuality restricts our view of the female persona to privilege reproduction as her only traceable influence on political life and “waiting and pining for the male” as her chief concern;2 consequently, her romantic relations tempt us to new readings and interpretations, while other aspects of personality languish in private corners where her activities, no matter how aesthetically rich or deeply encoded within the cultural system, seem to have little literary resonance. Within texts by and about women are enterprises that, for the modern reader, represent the barren ground against which her relationships with men (and the moods and intrigues that surround those interactions) figure so prominently. One of the most pervasive of these “silent” activities, and one that complicates the passive construction of the female persona, is her http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

Text and Textile: Unweaving the Female Subject in Heian Writing

positions asia critique , Volume 4 (3) – Dec 1, 1996

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 1996 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-4-3-595
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

1. Clothing and the Power of Difference In Heian fiction it is romantic, rather than economic, political, social, or familial activity that generates change, and so the amorous encounter stands 0 1996 by Duke University Press as the kakekotoba of prose, the pivotal trope by which new layers of meaning fold back on the narrative to spur it forward once again. T h e historical and psychological force of Heian sexuality restricts our view of the female persona to privilege reproduction as her only traceable influence on political life and “waiting and pining for the male” as her chief concern;2 consequently, her romantic relations tempt us to new readings and interpretations, while other aspects of personality languish in private corners where her activities, no matter how aesthetically rich or deeply encoded within the cultural system, seem to have little literary resonance. Within texts by and about women are enterprises that, for the modern reader, represent the barren ground against which her relationships with men (and the moods and intrigues that surround those interactions) figure so prominently. One of the most pervasive of these “silent” activities, and one that complicates the passive construction of the female persona, is her

Journal

positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Dec 1, 1996

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