Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu

Rewriting Medieval Japanese WomenRewriting Medieval Japanese Women: Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu, by Christina Laffin, explores the world of thirteenth-century Japan through the life of a prolific noblewoman known as Nun Abutsu (1225–1283). Abutsu crossed gender and genre barriers by writing the first career guide for Japanese noblewomen, the first female-authored poetry treatise, and the first poetic travelogue by a woman—all despite the increasingly limited social mobility for women during the Kamakura era (1185–1336). Capitalizing on her literary talent and political prowess, Abutsu rose from middling origins and single-motherhood to a prestigious marriage and membership in an esteemed literary lineage.

“Laffin draws on an impressive array of primary and secondary sources in Japanese and English to create the most comprehensive picture we have to date of a remarkable woman who has been written out of the standard narratives of Japanese social, political, and literary history. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the role of women in the complex interplay of power, poetry, and politics in medieval Japan.” —Rajyashree Pandey, Goldsmiths, University of London

January 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3565-1 / $49.00 (CLOTH)