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Diva NationFemale Icons from Japanese Cultural History$
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Laura Miller and Rebecca Copeland

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297722

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297722.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Izumo no Okuni Queers the Stage

Izumo no Okuni Queers the Stage

(p.77) Chapter 4 Izumo no Okuni Queers the Stage
Diva Nation

Barbara Hartley

University of California Press

This chapter introduces the dazzling brilliance of Izumo no Okuni, the woman credited with founding kabuki. Given the scant historical record regarding the real Okuni, the chapter draws extensively on the 1969 novel by the post-war literary diva Ariyoshi Sawako. In Ariyoshi’s telling, Okuni rises from a provincial shrine dancer to become a willful diva, enthralling sophisticated Kyoto audiences. Refusing to allow either her sexual identity or performance style to be constrained by societal norms, she championed theatrical innovation to achieve wild success. Since a feature of Okuni’s performance was to cross-dress and dance as a man, the chapter interprets Okuni’s performance art through the work of queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz.

Keywords:   Izumo no Okuni, Ariyoshi Sawako, diva, kabuki, performance, queer theory, cross-dressing, José Esteban Muñoz

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