Ideologies in contemporary picture book representations of tales by Miyazawa Kenji
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:04 authored by Helen Claire Kilpatrick
This thesis investigates ideologies in contemporary picture books of Miyazawa Kenji's tales from the perspective of the acculturation of children in (post)modern Japan. Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933) was writing in the early 20'" century, yet he is currently the most prolifically published literary figure in picture book form and these pictorialisations are widely promulgated to children and throughout cultural and educational institutions in Japan. Given Kenji's prominence as a devoutly Buddhist author with a unique position within Japanese literature, the thesis operates on the premise that the picture books are working, inter aha, to decode or encode the inherent Buddhist ideologies of self, identity and subjectivity and that the picture book re-versions are attempting to be 'authentic' to these. (Unlike many other works adapted for picture books, Kenji's original words are left intact.) Such selflother interactions are important to the construction of identity because childhood itself is an ideological construction premised on assumptions about what it means to be a child and what it means to 'be'; in other words, "such fictions are premised on culturally specific ideologies of identity" (McCallum, 1999: 263). Picture books, with their two forms of narrative discourse, pictures and words, are more ideologically powerful than words alone because the pictures also carry attitudes and therefore doubly inscribe both the explicit and implicit ideologies inherent in the words. -- By utilising Miyazawa Kenji's non-humanist Buddhist ideologies as a basis, this investigation compares how different artists are (re-)inscribing these ideals in the most frequently pidorialised versions of his children's tales. It is primarily an investigation into how the artistic responses re-situate or respond to ideologies of self and subjectivity inherent in a select corpus of focused pre-existing texts. Ultimately, the thesis shows how different pictures can shape story and how the implied reader is interpellated into certain subject positions and viewpoints from which to read the texts. This involves an intertextual approach which explores how art and culture interact to imply significance.