A Different Voice in Japanese Culture: The Shôjo Phenomenon


A Different Voice in Japanese Culture: The Shôjo (girls) Phenomenon
A form of resistance and transcultural gender-free space

Please join Professor Carol Gilligan at a very special seminar with Michiko Mae, Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Dusseldorf.

Wednesday October 14th, 4:00-6:00 pm
Vanderbilt Hall Room 201
40 Washington Square South

Professor Mae is an expert on transcultural gender studies and world wide women’s movements.

At the turn of the 20th century, along with the increasing number of schoolgirls and founding of popular magazines for girls, the new life phase of shôjo (girls) was born in Japan. Free from – or because of – the mainstream of the restrictive modern female gender concept ryosai kenbo (good wife and wise mother), shôjo culture introduced a new type of literature and aesthetic world. It was seen as romantic and dreamy fantasy, but it was a cultural self construct. Shôjo created a new space for resistance and a real social network, both during and post World War II. In 1953 the new genre of shôjo manga (girls’ comics) started with Ribon no Kishi (The Princess Knight) by Tezuka Osamu. It became a very popular story, whose heroine had a male and a female heart, and introduced a tradition of male female – gender-free – heroines. In the presentation the tradition of Japanese girls’ culture will be analysed from the angle of Carol Gilligan’s different voice theory. It will also consider whether girls’ culture has created a new transcultural gender-free space.

MICHIKO MAE is Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Düsseldorf. She is specialised in Japan-related gender studies and cultural studies. Visiting professor at the universities Vienna (1993), Tokyo (2004, 2007), Keio-University (2006, 2007, 2008) and Ochanomizu-University (2004) in Tokyo. Her main research fields are: inter- and transculturality, cultural identity, the public and the private sphere, concepts of subjectivity in modern Japan, women’s movements and civil society. Her publications include: Transkulturelle Genderforschung. Ein Studienbuch zum Verhältnis von Kultur und Geschlecht. (Transcultural Gender Studies. A Study of Culture and Gender) (Ed. with Britta Saal) VS-Verlag 2007; Frauenbewegungen weltweit. (Women’s Movements Worldwide) (Ed. with Ilse Lenz and Karin Klose) Leske + Budrich 2000; Getrennte Welten, Gemeinsame Moderne. Geschlechterverhältnisse in Japan. (Separate Worlds, Mutual Modernity – Gender relations in Japan). (Ed. with Ilse Lenz) Leske + Budrich 1997; Doitsu no mienai kabe. (The invisible wall in Germany) (Ed. With Ueno Chizuko, Tanaka Miyuki) Iwanami Shoten 1993.