Dreaming Gender: Kyōgoku School Japanese Women Poets (Re)writing the Feminine Subject

Document Type



International and Intercultural Studies (Pitzer)

Publication Date

Fall 2008


Love poetry, Poetry, Empresses, Literary criticism, Femininity, Literary style, Anthologies, Love, Desire, Buddhism


Literary historians generally tell tales of a gradual decline in Japanese women’s writing after its great efflorescence in the mid- and late-Heian period (794-1185). Following the early important women poets Ono no Komachi (fl. mid-ninth c.) and Lady Ise (b. 875-d. after 938), these tales tell us that Japanese women writers also compiled poetry collections that included prose and wrote what might loosely be termed literary diaries (nikki bungaku) and tales (monogatari) that defined new genres and otherwise fundamentally shaped Japanese court literature. The great masterpiece of this women-centered tradition is The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu (b. 978-d. 1016?), a sophisticated psychological novel of over one thousand pages in translation that some critics see as the first full-length novel in world literature.

Rights Information

© 2008 University of Tulsa