Literary expression opening the way for the present: focusing on political incorrectness as keyword

Keiko Kanai (Waseda University)
Caterina Mazza (Ca' Foscari University of Venice)
Daniela Moro (Ca' Foscari University)
Hannah Osborne (University of Oxford)
Modern Literature
Torre A, Piso -1, Auditório 002
Start time:
1 September, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Looking at works of post-war Japanese literature handling characters in a condition of disadvantage or marginality, the aim of the panel is to suggest a reflection on the strategic use of political incorrectness in a selected corpus of fictions that rework contemporary socially accepted discourses.

Long abstract:

On the level of meaning, the idea of putting political correctness into practice is defined as "avoidance of expressions or actions that can be perceived to exclude or marginalize or insult people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against" (Green, Jonathon; Karolides, Nicholas J., 2005). This is a measure which spread in the 1980ies starting from the U.S., but on the level of literary expression it has not always been welcomed, due to its tendency to bring the rigidity of "word hunting" into the text.  At first sight, political incorrectness could be taken as a situation of unawareness which would have needed to be corrected before political correctness was professed. Nevertheless, precisely because the expression of an objection to their disadvantage enhances the power of imagination of problematic beings, we must not neglect some challenging literary works which make a strategic use of political incorrectness. This panel is focused on the analysis of "Eguchi suieki" (1981) by Saegusa Kazuko, "Minamata umi no koe" (1982) by Ishimure Michiko, and "Koi suru genpatsu" (2011) by Takahashi Gen'ichirō. A mother and a daughter, two generations of women who are "cursed" by the spirit of the prostitute Eguchi of the Noh play, being promiscuous for different reasons. A little girl who doesn't speak, died of Minamata disease with a little fox. A film director and his staff that start making adult movies for charity, engaging in a "(parodic)-political-porno-philanthropic" action for the victims of the Fukushima's triple disaster. All these characters, being in a condition of disadvantage or marginality, show on occasion an "incorrectness", whose significance is worth analyzing. The aim of the panel is to suggest a reflection which follows the routes of "indelicate" voices in contemporary literature, that have openly expressed the unspeakable on very "delicate" and crucial themes of Japanese post-war era. The chosen perspective - that of "strategic marginality" - will lead us to explore the potential of literary expressions when they are deliberately chosen to rework the contemporaneity and its socially accepted discourses. References Green, Jonathon; Karolides, Nicholas J. (2005). Encyclopedia of Censorship, New Edition. New York: Facts on file Inc., p. 449.