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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Re-cycling her words : the transmission of narrative through poetry in the reception of Kenreimon'in Ukyō no Daibu shū within the imperial waka anthologies Mc Nelly, Kim


This thesis explores the transmission of narratives and cultural memory through medieval Japanese poetic reception by examining how selections from one aristocratic woman’s memoir are borrowed, omitted, or altered in the cross-genrefication from poetic memoir to poetic anthology. I examine the medieval reception and re-presentation of Kenreimon’in Ukyō no Daibu shū (The Poetic Memoir of Lady Daibu, ca. 1220) within the latter thirteen of twenty-one Japanese imperial poetry anthologies of waka (jūsandaishū), compiled from 1234 to 1439. I focus on her reception within Gyokuyō wakashū (Collection of Jeweled Leaves, ca.1312), and Fūga wakashū (Collection of Elegance, ca.1346), as these two anthologies include ten and six of her poems, respectively, which is more than any of the other anthologies. Their selection of so many of her poems indicates a statistically significant interest in rehabilitating her as a poet. Lady Daibu (ca. 1155-1232) grounds many of the poems in her memoir within a context of love, civil war, and loss through a chronological prose narrative that describes the circumstances of the poems’ composition. I argue that the anthologies transmit narratives about her through their selection of poems, contextualizing headnotes, integration of voices, and structural choices in terms of where her poems are placed within the anthology. While the narratives created in this manner have some connection to Lady Daibu’s self-portrayal within her memoir, such as her romantic relationship with Taira no Sukemori (ca. 1161-1185), connection to the Heike clan, and intimacy with the imperial family, they frequently differ from her own story and each other. In other words, the historical narratives within the anthologies create competing cultural histories about Lady Daibu, the time in which she lived, and the focal point of much of her attention—Sukemori and the Heike clan, who lost the Genpei War (1180-1185). Through this, I focus on the gendered roles female poets occupy within the imperial anthologies in relation to love and lamentation. As all of the anthologies were compiled by men, this thesis also considers how women’s self-writings were reframed in a gendered discourse of men compiling canonical works.

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