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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reimagining male-male sexuality : representations in Japanese modern literature and gay manga Hall, Nicholas James


This thesis examines the representation of male-desiring males in modern Japanese literature and comics for gay men, and shows how such representations have been used to various ends by heterosexual authors, as well as by same-sex desiring and openly gay authors. Chapter One provides an overview of representations of male-male eroticism in Japanese literature from the 700s AD, and of the changing attitudes towards male-male sexuality, from the celebrated, paederastic nanshoku tradition of the Edo era (1600-1867) to the medicalized approach to "same-sex love" in the Meiji period (1867-1912), and the emergence of a modern gay identity in the 1980s and 1990s. Chapter Two examines representations of homosexual males in the writings of modern canonical authors Ōe Kenzaburō, Shiba Ryōtarō and Mishima Yukio, and examines the motivations of each author in writing a same-sex-desiring male character, which include the expression of national abjection, and the reflection of new thinking that pathologized male-male desire. Chapter Three focuses on manga produced by and for gay men, and examines contemporary examples of such productions by Hirosegawa Yui, Nohara Kuro, and Masatake from three gay monthly magazines. This chapter explores how such manga are used both to produce and inform gay life in modern Japan. Finally, the Conclusion examines the differences in depictions of male-desiring males in works by writers of mainstream literature and writers of manga for gay men, arguing that while both use homosexual male characters to political ends, the former use such characters for destructive reasons (to express national abjection, for example), while the latter use them for constructive and instructive reasons--as a positive exploration of gay life, and as a blueprint for Japanese gay men to follow.

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