Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Asian Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Janice Brown

Second Advisor

Laurel Rasplica Rodd

Third Advisor

Faye Kleeman

Fourth Advisor

David Atherton

Fifth Advisor

Eric White


This dissertation explores the fantastical landscapes in which Japanese genre fiction routinely unfolds as subversive spaces for the elaboration of subjectivities that undermine conventional discourses on gender and identity. Through analyses of four texts representing the genres of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction—Suzuki Kōji’s Ringu (Ring), Ueda Sayuri’s Zeusu no ori (Cage of Zeus), Kirino Natsuo’s Joshinki (The Goddess Chronicle), and Tobi Hirotaka’s "Jisei no yume" (Autogenic Dreaming)—this analysis seeks to illuminate how writers working across disparate popular genres have adopted and adapted historically constituted gender paradigms in order to elaborate visions of identity that are radically transgressive of humanist notions of subjectivity. The chapters that follow focus on a number of key features that link the works named above, and most importantly the deployment of feminine- and queer-coded characters and landscapes to explore issues of traumatic memory, affect, and relationality. I contend that the psychoanalytic modes routinely deployed in analyses of genre fiction are limited owing to the elusive, often invisible position allotted to feminine, queer, and maternal subjectivities in considerations of both psychic life and the sphere of language. My readings are thus guided by feminist psychoanalytic critic Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger’s concept of the matrixial borderspace, which figures the womb not as a site of violent rupture, but rather as a supplementary paradigm that exists alongside the dominant phallic order, and which engenders forms of relating that transcend notions of individuated subjectivity. This dissertation foregrounds the interconnected issues of gender, space, and psyche through a consideration of the work of two key critics, Karatani Kōjin and Tsuruta Kin’ya. From there, it explores spectrality, virtuality, and the feminine uncanny in Ringu; outer space and queer economies of desire in Zeusu no ori; mytho-historical landscapes and maternal subjectivity in Joshinki; and database assemblage as matrixial process in Tobi Hirotaka’s "Jisei no yume." By expanding my discussion of unmapped psychic landscapes in these works into a consideration of the cultural topography of contemporary Japan, I also examine how each of these texts engages with present-day debates concerning everything from the breakdown of established gender roles to the growing visibility of fluid sexual identities, the perceived decay of traditional aesthetic values to the proliferation of technology.