Since September, I have been waiting for the e-mail notifying me regarding the upcoming annual meeting of the Comparative Literature Association (ACLA). Finally, I received the good news this morning and learned that my paper was accepted for an oral presentation 🙂 You can read my abstract below and feel free to comment on it 😉
The Notion of Maternity during the Lost Decade of Japan through Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
In the wake of the economic downturn of Japan in the 1990s, the notion of maternity, putatively separated from the capitalist production, was denounced as a constituent of self-indulgence and consumer culture. The home (maternal domain), once “constituted as the center not only of consumption but also of prudent thrift” owing to household saving rates and purchase of recommended consumer durables lost its paradigmatic status (Yoda, 2000, p.873). By contrast, the discourse of paternalism, associated with respect for hard-working fathers and capitalist economic expansion, became a popular theme in Japanese media (Yoda, 2000).
Accordingly, this paper examines the ways in which Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle witnesses the altering status of the maternity in view of economic destabilization during the lost decade of Japan. I argue that Noboru Wataya, due to his remarks on gender roles and mysterious power over women, is illustrative of the view linking maternity with excessive consumption. Conversely, unemployed Toru Okada, who takes care of house chores while his wife works at a magazine, epitomizes the individual whose life is under change with the new economic conditions. Despite his circumstances, Okada disagrees with Wataya’s views and tries to emancipate his wife from Wataya’s fetters. In this way, Murakami, instead of the failed past system, seems to point towards an uncertain future for the improvement of economic and social issues prevalent at the time.
Yoda, T. (2000). The Rise and Fall of Maternal Society: Gender, Labor and Capital in Contemporary Japan. South Atlantic Quarterly. 99(4), 865.