From Parliamentary Speeches to Chinese Poetry

The Art and Politics in East Asia Workshop Presents:

From Parliamentary Speeches to Chinese Poetry:

The Privileged Space of Popular Rights Activist Kishida Toshiko’s Diaries (1891-1901)

Mamiko Suzuki

Ph.D. Candidate , Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Friday, February 6

4-6 p.m.

Judd 313

Known as the first female orator of modern Japan, Kishida Toshiko (1864-1901) left behind a
decade's worth of diaries which spanned the years after her political activism and ran
concurrently with her shift in expressive mode from voice to pen. Kishida's turn toward the less
controversial medium of women's educational journals to express her ideas within the public
domain was a response to the increasingly restrictive world of the mid-Meiji period (1868-1901).
At the same time, Toshiko found in her diaries a unique and privileged space of self-expression
that helped her to construct an identity otherwise impermissible in her published writings.
In this talk, I will discuss the specific circumstances surrounding the posthumous publication in
1903 of the final two diaries (1900-1901) and how Kishida's formal language, audience, and
public persona in her remaining diaries complicate way we read Meiji women's writing. Kishida
also demonstrates also how the expressive space of the diary is communicating with, yet
functions outside the limitations of print media and other public platforms. The diary allowed
Kishida as a woman writer to multiply her narrative positions regardless of her legal subjugation
and social classification and to posthumously contribute an anomalous yet parallel discourse on
Meiji women.
No paper will be distributed in advance. The talk will be given at a research university for a
Languages and Literatures Department position.  We would appreciate comments and
questions to the talk, particularly from the position of a non-Japan or non-East Asian specialist.
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