Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: March 1, 2024 - Last updated: March 1, 2024


Speaker: Otilia Milutin

Title: Murasaki Shikibu Goes Pop

Subtitle: Calling on a Heian Woman Writer in Japan’s Contemporary Media

Conference: Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (March 1: Virtual, March 14-17, 2024: In-Person) - Online Program

Session: H032 - Women and Historical Fiction (Chair: Gergana Ivanova)

Place: Seattle, Washington, United States

Date: March 16, 2024

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 21st Century | Asian History: Japanese History | Cases: Fictional Victims / Murasaki Shikibu; Types: Rape; Representations: Films / Genji monogatari sennen no nazo


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Speaker: Otilia Milutin, Department of Japanese Studies, Middlebury College - Speaker's Personal Website,, ORCID, ResearchGate

Abstract: »Considering the many tribulations that Murasaki Shikibu (ca. 973–ca. 1013–1031), the author of Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji, 1008), has experienced posthumously, her afterlife may rival the fate of her hero, Hikaru Genji himself. Admired as a literary genius, cast into hell for the sin of writing literature, redeemed as a potential bodhisattva, or elevated as a model of proper feminine behavior, Lady Murasaki has made it into the twenty-first century just as creatively reimagined as her masterpiece.
This paper examines two attempts at rewriting the historical figure of Murasaki Shikibu in Japanese popular culture, by contrasting a version where her agency and literary authority are diminished to one where she becomes a proto-feminist figure. The 2011 Genji monogatari sennen no nazo movie opens with the rape of the Genji author at the hands of her literary patron, Fujiwara no Michinaga (966–1028), and implies that sexual violence becomes the price for her literary genius. In the 2010 anime series Chōyaku hyakunin isshu: uta koi, the Genji author attains literary prestige independently of any entanglement with illustrious men and becomes the voice for all the other Heian women who are otherwise unable to express their plight. This paper investigates these two contrasting popular attempts at historical fiction, highlighting how the complex interplay between male authorship and female audiences continues to shape contemporary rewritings of historical female figures, addressing, in the process, important issues in contemporary Japanese society, such as sexual harassment or feminism.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of Japan | Film: Films about rape / Genji Monogatari: Sennen no Nazo | Literature: Japanese literature / Murasaki Shikibu | Sex and the law: Rape / Rape in Japan