Male Colors

Male Colors

by Gary Leupp


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Tokugawa Japan ranks with ancient Athens as a society that not only tolerated, but celebrated, male homosexual behavior. Few scholars have seriously studied the subject, and until now none have satisfactorily explained the origins of the tradition or elucidated how its conventions reflected class structure and gender roles. Gary P. Leupp fills the gap with a dynamic examination of the origins and nature of the tradition. Based on a wealth of literary and historical documentation, this study places Tokugawa homosexuality in a global context, exploring its implications for contemporary debates on the historical construction of sexual desire.

Combing through popular fiction, law codes, religious works, medical treatises, biographical material, and artistic treatments, Leupp traces the origins of pre-Tokugawa homosexual traditions among monks and samurai, then describes the emergence of homosexual practices among commoners in Tokugawa cities. He argues that it was "nurture" rather than "nature" that accounted for such conspicuous male/male sexuality and that bisexuality was more prevalent than homosexuality. Detailed, thorough, and very readable, this study is the first in English or Japanese to address so comprehensively one of the most complex and intriguing aspects of Japanese history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520209008
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 03/01/1997
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Gary P. Leupp is Associate Professor of History at Tufts University and the author of Servants, Shophands, and Laborers in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan (1992).

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Male Colors 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Leupp provides a mostly compelling introduction to male-male sexual relationships in Tokugawa-era Japan, with considerable information on earlier times. Illustrations are abundant, the prose is clear, and the documentation thorough.