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Gender and Nation in Meiji JapanModernity, Loss, and the Doing of History$
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Jason G. Karlin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838263

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838263.001.0001

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The Mythos of Masculinization

The Mythos of Masculinization

Narratives of Heroism and Historical Identity

Chapter:
(p.72) Chapter 2 The Mythos of Masculinization
Source:
Gender and Nation in Meiji Japan
Author(s):

Jason G. Karlin

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824838263.003.0003

This chapter examines the discourse of heroes in Meiji Japan through its principal forms of representation, namely, history and fiction. In many cultures, the ideology of “masculine hegemony” finds cultural expression in the figure of the hero, whose exemplary masculinity compels imitation. The hero is seen as central in the process of identification among adolescent males since the transition to manhood is predicated upon conformity to normative definitions of gender, which heroes are deemed to exemplify. This chapter analyzes the ways in which heroes have shaped gender identity in Japan by focusing on the narratives of historical biographies and adventure novels during the Meiji period. It also considers the tendency of heroism narratives in modern Japan to invoke a popular nationalism that celebrated defiance of state authority. The chapter describes heroes as one kind of transitional object that plays an essential role in the development of identity. It argues that the ideological effect of heroes in shaping gender identity can only be understood in relationship to narrativity.

Keywords:   heroes, Meiji Japan, masculine hegemony, masculinity, gender identity, historical biographies, adventure novels, heroism, popular nationalism, narrativity

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