Accepted paper:

Poetry Contests as Gendered Performances: The Tentoku yonen dairi utaawase (Poetry Contest of the Year 960 [Tentoku 4])


Michel Vieillard-Baron (INALCO)

Paper short abstract:

My presentation examines the role of women in this famous imperial contest involving great poets of the period. Analyzing <i>kanbun </i>and <i>kana </i>accounts, I define functions entrusted to women and physical spaces occupied, thus determining the extent to which the contest was a “gendered performance.”

Paper long abstract:

This famous contest at the imperial palace (<i>dairi</i>) brought together great poets of the period, men and women such as Mibu no Tadami (active 951-960) and Nakatsukasa (910?-after 989). Topics included both spring and summer, because the Thirtieth Day of the Third Month of 960 (Tentoku 4) occurred between the first two seasons, and different stages of love. The contest has come to represent a model of ceremonial splendor through its extensive preparations that produced extremely refined decor and participant costumes. The ceremony’s process has been described in several detailed accounts (<i>nikki</i>) by the Emperor himself and a member of the private chancellery (both written in <i>kanbun</i>), as well as three vernacular accounts (<i>kana nikki</i>). The contest is particularly well documented in journals and is characterized in literary history as the first such event accompanied by systematic notations of the judgement, in this case by Fujiwara no Saneyori (900-970). My presentation examines the exact role played by women in this official event. I will focus on defining precisely which functions were entrusted to women and whether such functions differed from those conducted by men. I will also consider which physical places were granted to them in the subtle staging of this contest, thus determining to what extent the contest was a “gendered performance.”

panel S3b_09
Gender and Cultural Space in Premodern Japanese Texts