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Ambiguous Bodies – Reading the Grotesque in Japanese Setsuwa Tales - Stanford Scholarship Online
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Ambiguous Bodies: Reading the Grotesque in Japanese Setsuwa Tales

Michelle Osterfeld Li


This book draws from theories of the grotesque to examine many of the strange and extraordinary creatures and phenomena in the premodern Japanese tales called setsuwa. Grotesque representations in general typically direct our attention to unfinished and unrefined things; they are marked by an earthy sense of the body and an interest in the physical, and, because they have many meanings, can both sustain and undermine authority. The book aims to make sense of grotesque representations in setsuwa—animated detached body parts, unusual sexual encounters, demons and shape-shifting or otherwise wond ... More

Keywords: grotesque, Japanese, setsuwa, body parts, sexual encounters, demons, shape-shifting, Japanese tales, ancient period, classical period

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2009 Print ISBN-13: 9780804759755
Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013 DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804759755.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Michelle Osterfeld Li, author