Constructing Subjectivities: Autobiographies in Modern Japan

Overview

Constructing Subjectivities addresses the relationship between memory and modernity and its relevance to Japanese autobiographical texts. Tomonari construes autobiographies as embodying memory in modernity, and regards the conditions of modernity as having determined, in part, the shape of autobiographical texts. At the same time, however, he argues that Japanese autobiographies were not simply bound to the cultural and social norms of the time, but rather that the texts themselves were among the main agents of ...

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Overview

Constructing Subjectivities addresses the relationship between memory and modernity and its relevance to Japanese autobiographical texts. Tomonari construes autobiographies as embodying memory in modernity, and regards the conditions of modernity as having determined, in part, the shape of autobiographical texts. At the same time, however, he argues that Japanese autobiographies were not simply bound to the cultural and social norms of the time, but rather that the texts themselves were among the main agents of fostering Japanese modernity. The autobiographies he discusses served to initiate certain societal transitions and took part in the remaking of social norms and conventions. According to Constructing Subjectivities, mnemonic texts were crucial to the construction of modern ideological discourses such as those on the self, the family, entrepreneurship, the roles of women, and the nation. The study of this discursive process enables us to understand how the Japanese themselves tried to control the form of modernity that materialized in Japan. Because autobiography constructed and embodied collective memory at this time, analyzing the discursive process is also crucial to understanding both contemporary Japan and the self-perception of the Japanese people.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Japanese Studies
This book is an intriguing study with outstanding strengths, particularly in regard to the wealth of material presented...anyone interested in modern Japanese culture and society will come away from it with new insight. It raises the question of how Japanese business has contributed to Japanese culture. It has the potential to trigger future research on self-narratives in a transnational context, and it also inspires reflections on the relationship between "reality" and discursive as well as literary writing.
Ronald P. Loftus
Constructing Subjectivities is an intriguing account of autobiographical writing in Japan placed in a socioeconomic context. Autobiographies by mainstream figures from the business community such as Suzuki Bokushi, Kawato Jindai, and Fukuzawa Yûkichi are joined by those from radical social activists like Sakai Toshihiko, Ôsugi Sakae, and Katayama Sen, not to mention ones by activist women such as Yamakawa Kikue, Ishigaki Ayako, Oku Mumeo, Kamichika Ichiko and Maruoka Hideko. The author thus offers the reader a diverse and wide-ranging assortment of autobiographical texts for discussion and analysis.
Journal of Japanese Studies
This book is an intriguing study with outstanding strengths, particularly in regard to the wealth of material presented...anyone interested in modern Japanese culture and society will come away from it with new insight. It raises the question of how Japanese business has contributed to Japanese culture. It has the potential to trigger future research on self-narratives in a transnational context, and it also inspires reflections on the relationship between "reality" and discursive as well as literary writing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739117163
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.37 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Noboru Tomonari is assistant professor in the department of Asian languages and literatures at Carleton College, Minnesota.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction Part 2 Part I: Autobiographical Reflections in the Late Tokugawa Period: Lives in Commerce Chapter 3 Suzuki Bokushi: The Shared Virtue Chapter 4 Virtue as an Ideology Chapter 5 Moral Responsibility Chapter 6 Memory as Resource Chapter 7 Trading on One's Own Chapter 8 The Joys of an Entrepreneur Chapter 9 Initial Disappointment: Virtue Discounted Chapter 10 Outside Yet Inside Chapter 11 The Consolation of Memory Chapter 12 Autobiographies in Between Part 13 Part II: Creating Modern Managers: The Uses of Memory by Fukuzawa Yukichi and Shibusawa Eiichi Chapter 14 Management Intellectuals, Economy, and Autobiography Chapter 15 Sharing Memory Chapter 16 Better than the Bureaucrats Chapter 17 The New Business Elite Chapter 18 Overcoming Seisho (Government Protégés) Chapter 19 A Choice of One's Own Chapter 20 Getting Ahead in the Meiji Period: Later Autobiographies by Shibusawa Chapter 21 The Entrepreneurial Self Chapter 22 Improving Commercial Education Chapter 23 Creating and Nurturing Managers Chapter 24 Worker Contentions Chapter 25 Social Marginality and the Meiji Entrepreneur Autobiographies Part 26 Self-Narration as Propaganda: Autobiographies by Anarchists and Socialists in the 1920s Chapter 27 Leaning toward the Left Chapter 28 The Conversion of a Rebel Chapter 29 Self-Transformation through Activism Chapter 30 Memory Evoked by Memory Chapter 31 The Final Days of the Capitalist Class Chapter 32 Depicting the Upper Middle Class Chapter 33 Changes in the Socialist Movement Chapter 34 Katayama Sen's Path to Socialism Chapter 35 Katayam as the Peasant/Proletariat Chapter 36 The Emergence of the Proletariat Chapter 37 Autobiographies of Counterhegemony Part 38 Part IV: Working Mothers: Autobiographies by Japanese Women in the 1950s Chapter 39 Being a Wife and a Mother Chapter 40 Departing from a Mother's Way Chapter 41 Yamakawa Kikue as Wife and Mother Chapter 42 Ishigaki Ayako's Search for Memory Chapter 43 Positioning Women as Mothers Chapter 44 Balancing Work and Child Care Chapter 45 An Accidental Career Woman Chapter 46 Self-Development through Work Chapter 47 An Activist with a Child Chapter 48 Career over Housework? Chapter 49 Part-Time Women and the Gendered Division of Labor Chapter 50 Working Mothers and Autobiography Part 51 Conclusion Part 52 Works Cited

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