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Psychoanalysis and La Femme: Special Issue Home

Monstrous Femininity and Oedipal Nostalgia: 
Miyuki Miyabe and the Japanese Femme Fatale
Alexander N. Howe

January 2010

Among the many opaque Lacanian one-liners that circulate in the academy, Lacan’s comment in the essay “Lituraterre” that the Japanese are unanalyzable is as puzzling as any.  This conclusion is based upon the uniqueness of the Japanese writing system, which allows for two ways of reading the Chinese characters borrowed for the Japanese language—either according to a Chinese phoneme assigned for each character or the Japanese translation of each character (either on-yomi or kun-yomi).  For the Japanese reader, the result of this is, at times anyway, a confrontation with a series of symbols emptied of meaning they possess in other situations.  In this way, the emptiness of the letter is revealed, making an identification with a unary trait impossible, or, at the very least, unnecessary for the Japanese subject.  In other words, identification within language is disrupted by a certain meaninglessness that characters can possess in various situations, in addition to their “fixed” meaning.  The Japanese analyst Shin’ya Ogasawara has taken issue with this notion of the Japanese as incapable of analysis, arguing that the letter is indeed operative in Japanese subjects, a fact that makes them amenable, as in the West, to analysis (2).  Even within “Lituraterre,” Lacan admits that in Japan “the subject is divided, as everywhere, by language, but one of its registers can be satisfied by reference to writing, and the other by speech” (4).  Thus the duplicity of writing, and the register of meaning or symptom understood as cipher, shares a close relationship to the jouissance of speech—the littoral of the letter in Lacan’s reformulation of that concept in “Lituraterre.” 

I will leave the final conclusions of Lacan’s comments on the suitability of Japanese analysands to those more qualified. 1   For the purposes of this essay, I will follow Ogasawara’s observations about the function of the signifier to read an example of a Japanese text that is surely situated at the level of the letter—that is, a work of contemporary Japanese detective fiction, Miyuki Miyabe’s All She Was Worth.  A prolific author, Miyabe is one of the best-selling female writers in contemporary Japan.  Her work spans many popular genres including science fiction, mystery, historical novels, travelogues, numerous op ed pieces, and youth novels, including a multi-media franchise surrounding her children’s novel Brave Story that was transformed into a hugely popular manga edition and an accompanying film version.  Despite her diverse publishing success, Miyabe is still best known in Japan as the “Queen of Mysteries” (Seaman 271), and certainly her international acclaim is the result of her accomplishments in this genre.  Her 1992 novel Kasha, literally “Cart of Fire,” which was translated by Alfred Birnbaum as All She Was Worth in 1996, won the prestigious Shugoro Yamamoto Prize in Japan and remains the author’s best-known and best-selling novel. 

This text is well suited for an analytic investigation for a number of reasons, particularly given its unique elaboration of the femme fatale character, an obligatory inclusion in any modern piece of detective fiction.  As is well known, the Japanese are famous for borrowing, and subsequently perfecting, cultural texts of others.  Detective fiction is a favorite borrowed form in Japan, an importation that dates to the Meiji Restoration near the end of the nineteenth century, a period marked by the rapid Westernization of the modern nation.  While detective fiction, of all varieties, continues to be pigeonholed as an inherently conservative genre and criticized for its misplaced optimism in the Enlightenment project, the genre is far more critical than might at first be acknowledged.  Receptive to these critical possibilities from the first, Japanese authors were keen to utilize this ambiguity inherent to detective fiction along with its accompanying critique of knowledge and authority (Kawana 9-10). 

Within the twentieth century, a perfect lens for reading this critical capacity is the passage from the classical detective genre (e.g., Poe and Doyle) to the hard-boiled and noir worlds (e.g., Chandler and Cain), a development that witnesses to the increasing failure of the mastery of the detective, particularly when faced with the treacherous femme fatale.  As Yiji Huang has argued, the femme fatale character predates the importation of modern detective fiction to Japan.  Such vampiric females can be found in ancient Japanese fiction, including folktales featuring supernatural women masquerading as animals—usually foxes, appropriately enough—as well as within the famous 11th century work, The Tale of Genji.  Regarding the latter, Huang cites the importance of the Pygmalion-like relation between Genji and the girl Muraski, the hero’s object of adoration that will be transformed into an ideal woman (84).  From the 1920s onward, stories featuring moga, or modern women, screen the ambiguous response to the increasing modernization and the coincident Westernization of Japan.  The moga inevitably shares traits similar to those of the femme fatale.  She is linked with middle-class consumption and a “decadent lifestyle of fashion, smoking, drinking, and flirting,” aggressive traits coded as foreign that threaten more traditional Japanese values, resulting in a sense of “uneasiness, despair and even trauma,” the hallmark of these destructive women (Huang 84).  This play of surface and interior in the mask of the femme fatale, both the mask she herself assumes, and the mask attributed to her by others, is of course crucial to her construction.  Mary Ann Doane has commented on this peculiar divide, that is, the femme fatale is not the “subject of power but its carrier (the connotations of disease are appropriate here),” a characterization that requires us to rethink the division between action and passivity (2).  This “driven” aspect of her nature—figured by her lust for power, money, or pleasure—is the very source of her fascination, as is the suffering she ensures for those who imagine they can enjoy her without paying a deadly price. 

In psychoanalytic criticism, Slavoj Žižek and Joan Copjec have read the femme fatale in this manner, that is, the femme fatale represents the breakdown of a male fantasy construction that would place her under the thumb of the detective.  In Lacanian terms, from a structural perspective, each critic views the femme fatale and her triumph, even in death or incarceration, as a breakdown of desire and the emergence of the drive—a transition that serves as an index to Lacan’s elaboration of these concepts, as desire and drive are alternately paired with jouissance.  In a reversal common to his writing, Žižek explains that fascination of the femme fatale inheres for reasons quite the opposite of what we might first expect.  The interest of the character is not in the breakdown of the mastery of the detective, epistemologically or sexually.  Rather, what captivates the reader (and the thwarted detective) is a subject fully assuming the death drive (66).  In other words, in the femme fatale’s moment of defeat, when she seemingly loses all worth to the detective, we encounter woman beyond the realm of fantasy, that is, a subject “fully assuming her own fate,” (Žižek 66) or acting as her own object cause in identification with the drive.  The detective can either renounce her and reenter the space of desire, which serves as a defense against the jouissance of the drive, or identify with the woman “as symptom,” as Žižek says, resulting the suicidal gesture of the noir hero (66). 

Expanding upon this logic, Copjec reads the femme fatale herself as a defense against this lethal jouissance for the detective or noir protagonist.  As much as he is drawn to the woman and her jouissance, in the end this is simply an alibi indemnifying him against his own enjoyment: “That is, he tries to take some distance from himself, to initiate some alterity in his relation to himself—to split himself, we could say, not as the desiring subject between sense and being, but between knowledge and jouissance.  Giving up his right to enjoyment, the hero contracts with the femme fatale that she will henceforth command it from him, as levy” (199).  Copjec reads this exchange as a “social contract” insofar as the protagonist, through this bartering, attempts to “erect some community within the private space of jouissance—[which] turns out, in these cases, to an ineffectual and ultimately deadly stand-in for the social bond that classical detective fiction had earlier described” (200).  Here Copjec recalls Žižek’s reading of the different attitudes concerning payment maintained by classical and hard-boiled detectives.  While the classical detective could accept payment, as Dupin does at the end of Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” thereby distancing himself from the circuit of retribution opened by the letter (or crime), the hard-boiled detective often refuses remuneration.  While this gesture is meant to keep the hard-boiled detective from debt to another, to keep him from becoming a “carrier” of dirty money, he is left with no symbolic mooring through which he might negotiate his relations with others, leaving all “exchanges” perilous, to say the least.  As Copjec concludes, “the neutral, dead system of symbolic community and exchange that had supported the classical world has given way in noir to a world that crawls with private enjoyment and thus rots the old networks of communication” (200).  Clearly Miyabe’s translator, Birnbaum, had this impasse in mind when he re-titled “Cart of Fire” as All She Was Worth, a phrase that might be taken as a question regarding the worth, or place within the symbolic order, of the primary villainess and the detective, as well.      

The greater point to be taken in this discussion, a point that no doubt speaks to the continued fascination of the hard-boiled ethos, is that the femme fatale in this way stands in for the bind faced by all subjects in a post-oedipal world.  Lacan articulates this “end of Oedipus” in Seminar XVII, reading capital’s never-ending command to Enjoy! as coincident with the end of an oedipal universe.2  In the space of the latter, desiring subjects accepted limited access to their enjoyment—and thus received the “peace” of a symbolic community—through the father’s No! or prohibition.  However, after the fall of Oedipus, we are left with increasingly private enjoyments that refute social bonds, a fact that Lacan concluded would ensure a future of racism (Television 32-33).  Already in the 1920s and 30s, hard-boiled fiction intimated what comes after Oedipus.  Rather than the rule of the father, we find bands of brothers and the proliferation of fathers-of-enjoyment, or fathers who hoard enjoyment and antagonize sons, rather than providing them with symbolic consistency (Verhaeghe 138-39).  The femme fatale’s precarious existence within hard-boiled fiction likewise anticipated the compromised space of women in the post-oedipal world, as she all too frequently serves as the scapegoat for these very difficulties.  Without desire, and thus distance, serving as a defense against jouissance, woman’s sexuality, indeed her very existence, is experienced as hostile.  Within the regime of the brother, the goal is to outlaw the woman’s desire and, thereby, to “do away with her identity” completely, as her presence once more takes on “its atavistic characteristics,” resulting in unbearable anxiety for the sons with no mediating paternal authority  (MacCannell 27; Verhaeghe 138).    

In All She Was Worth, Miyabe expertly exploits these ambiguous relations of the femme fatale to the market demands of consumption and enjoyment.  The novel provides a compelling criticism of the out-of-control consumer culture in 1990s Japan and its effect upon women, families, and their communities, all the while providing the reader with a dizzying array of plot twists that underscore the fretful nature of identity construction in this historical context.  The plot of the novel begins with a basic missing persons case.  Honma Shunsuke, a Tokyo police detective who is on administrative leave while he recovers from a gunshot wound suffered on duty, is asked by his cousin, Jun Kurisaka, to find his missing fiancée, Shoko Sekine.  As Honma proceeds in his investigation, he soon discovers that Shoko was not who she claimed to be.  Her actual name was Kyoko Shinjo, and she had stolen Shoko’s identity after murdering her, this to escape lingering debts her family owed to the yakuza, money that was borrowed as the family tried to keep their home from foreclosure.  She chooses Shoko Sekine via a marketing research database available to her while working for a mail-order lingerie company, primarily because Shoko had limited family (a mother only) and, presumably, no financial burdens.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  After Kyoko, under Shoko’s identity, establishes a new life and becomes engaged, her fiancé Jun opens a credit card in her name only to find that Shoko had filed for personal bankruptcy, a discovery that promises to reveal her secret, forcing Kyoko to run away to seek a new victim and a new identity.

The basic mystery of the story—that is, why has Shoko/Kyoko left her fiancé—is solved within the first one hundred pages.  While it remains for Honma to find Kyoko and perhaps bring her to justice, the second half of the novel in many ways becomes more focused upon the loneliness of men and women, as they try to establish connections with others and, at the same time, a place of their own within their immediate neighborhoods and contemporary culture as well, something that remains impossible for the female characters.

The two women at the center of the story, Shoko and Kyoko, share similarities that underscore the contradictions of contemporary feminine identity in Japan typifying this loneliness.  The original Shoko left small-town life in Utsunomiya for Tokyo, where she found work in a large trading company.  Needlessly living beyond her means, she began to borrow money against credit cards and quickly worked herself into a hole that only personal bankruptcy could fix—an action that possesses much greater stigma in Japan than it does in the U.S.  Her humiliation is augmented when she begins “hostessing”—or “compensated dating”—at various clubs in Tokyo, an activity that appalls former friends in her hometown, who view the even more sedate versions of this activity as nothing more than prostitution.  She had failed at her big city dreams, and even the debt she incurred was without any tangible product, as, like most young debtors, she purchased numerous disposable consumer goods without any sustaining value.  Early in his investigation, the detective Honma meets with the original Shoko’s bankruptcy lawyer, who recalls with great pathos a moment when Shoko broke down in his office saying, “I don’t know how I ever got so far into the hole.  I just wanted to be happy” (111).  She desired the same things as so many of her peers: independence, an interesting life, and the token products marking such a lifestyle.  While her comment about desiring only happiness may inspire sympathy, Honma’s investigation suggests that the original Shoko killed her own mother, her last remaining relative, for insurance money.  This possibility is never disproved, leaving the reader’s compassion for the murdered girl thoroughly compromised.   

Kyoko Shinjo, the primary murderer of the story, is also scripted as parricidal.  At one point in the story, the detective interviews Kyoko’s first husband, Kurata Realty, who explains the intricacies of Kyoko’s secret past to the detective.  The story is tragic, to say the least.  Kyoko’s father was a mid-level office worker, who became drowned in debt after purchasing a family home that was well beyond his means.  To keep up with house payments, the father borrowed from loan sharks, who later destroy the family when the “loan” goes into default.  It is suggested that both Kyoko and her mother are forced into prostitution for a time by gangsters who relentlessly follow Kyoko—along with more legitimate bill collectors—even after she escapes and marries Kurata.  Not surprisingly, the couple divorces over these struggles, but when talking to Honma, the ex-husband describes a more specific breaking point.  After the couple speaks to a lawyer about the situation, they set out to prove that Kyoko’s father is deceased in order to remove all family liability.  Kurata recalls seeing Kyoko pouring over newspapers in the local library looking for death announcements that match the description of her father, all the while repeating, “Please be dead, Dad, please be dead” (237).  To him, this makes Kyoko utterly inhuman.  As he says, “That’s the sort of person she really was.  And something burst inside me” (237).  Their divorce was finalized just a few weeks later.    

This parricidal characterization obviously problematizes a straightforward reading of the social causes of the two women’s behavior, something that Miyabe ensures by transparently scripting Kyoko as a hard-boiled femme fatale.  Kyoko’s talents at disguise already assure such a reading; however, this depiction is made all the more manifest in her effect on members of the opposite sex.  Her first husband recalls being drawn to her fallen state, despite the fact that he had many other preferable opportunities for marriage—just as Honma’s cousin Jun had.  Kurata recalls, “[When I was with her] I felt like a real man.  I was solid, confident.  I knew Kyoko depended on me and I was there to protect her.  That’s all” (233).  Honma later summarizes this effect: “Kyoko Sinjo’s delicate but animated looks attracted the men around her, and the hard time she’d had aroused their protective instincts.  Her pathos was seductive.  Men had to come to her rescue to shield this flower in their hands” (233).  Kurata was fortunate to escape the activity that followed Kyoko’s initial passivity; unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Shoko Sekine.   

Miyabe galvanizes these transgressive attributes of the femme fatale by developing Kyoko’s deviation from one of the primary embodiments of the symbolic order of Japanese patriarchy, that is, the family registry.  The current family registry (koseki) dates to 1872, although there is long line of such registries throughout Japanese history.  The registry contains birth, death, and marriage information and, importantly, is not arranged by individual, but rather by family—patrilineally, of course.  The nation at the same time maintains a “residence database,” and these two registrations are necessary to be a “Japanese citizen,” or, in other words, a bona fide identity for the state (Sugimoto 146-47).  As the detective Honma reflects, “when you get right down to it, you aren’t your own person, you’re just a new line entered into the record of an entire family” (62).  And this is exactly what makes the actions of Kyoko all the more menacing.  She ignores the rigidity of this system, assuming that identity is something that can be manipulated, not simply in daily life, but at the level of the family registry itself.  Her actions do indeed offer a new freedom; however, the trauma of her story obviously speaks to the dangers of a life devoid of tradition and family relations—and the symbolic orientation of these institutions. 

Miyabe dramatizes the loss of these former symbolic articulations of identity by focusing on implications of personal bankruptcy, an increasingly common problem among young Japanese during the time in question.  The very notion of credit and “personal debt” is read as an American import to Japan, largely through the elaborations of Mizoguchi, the original Shoko’s bankruptcy lawyer, who explains at length the bubble economy that consumer credit produces, the most insidious result of which is the reduction of individual identities to credit reports (97).  Of course, this is all the more true of Kyoko who amasses extreme debt without a product (or asset) of any kind, leaving her “worth,” as well as her place, dubious at best.  The dirtiness of this system is damned all the more given a remarkable departure from the femme fatale’s stock characterization:  Rather than a drifter or home wrecker, the femme fatale of the novel is once, and then nearly again, a wife.  The femme fatale find herself at home not in some vague transgression of the symbolic order, but within the symbolic order itself—represented in this case by home, family, and marriage. 

Poised against this deadly jouissance that threatens all aspects of the social is a familiar band of brothers common to the hard-boiled and post-oedipal worlds.  However, Miyabe casts these relations as remarkably productive social networks—at times bordering on utopian.  Throughout the novel, the men of the story work together to create a community of mutual cooperation and support.  The detective Honma, for example, is a widower raising an adopted son, Satoru.  While Honma recovers from his wound, a friend of the family, Ikara, (an unemployed man who is supported by his wife), serves as a housekeeper and confidant.  This reversal of hard-boiled gender roles is further seen as Honma collaborates with two other detectives on the case—Sakai, a professional from Shoko’s hometown and Tamotsu, an amateur who was a childhood friend of Kyoko.  Rather than a lone wolf operative, the detective is perfectly open to cooperation.  Beyond this, Honma also collaborates with Shoko’s bankruptcy lawyer, Mizoguchi, and a number of former employers of both women.  Far from simply questioning these men about the case, Honma actively listens and learns from the benefit of each man’s experience.  Thus, Honma and his circle create both a private and professional network of relations that provides a relatively centered homeplace, from which the disintegration of place and family—and femininity, for that matter—in postmodern Japan might be examined.  On the one hand, this might be read in terms of the conservative nostalgia running throughout Miyabe’s text that reads small town life outside of Tokyo, based upon extended family relations bound to a specific locale for generations, as the ideal “place” for the more traditional Japanese values of simplicity and sacrifice (Seaman 32).  This reading can only be correct, I would argue, if one at the same time acknowledges the Oedipal nostalgia that suffuses this benignly functioning band of brothers.  The lost ideal of the father yet informs the men of the novel, making the feminine enjoyment of Kyoko, and the “new” Japanese woman heralded by the contemporary consumer culture, an urgent problem that must be “solved”—and thus silenced.                

This dilemma leaves Honma to reconsider his thoughts on feminine identity, as well as his own place within his community, along the way to answering the more basic question: Why did Kyoko do what she did?  The bankruptcy lawyer, Mizoguchi, suggests a more sympathetic interpretation, reading both Shoko and Kyoko’s actions as a sign of the times.  The lawyer offers that individual failing may play some role in consumer debt; however, he cannot believe that in the midst of such a widespread problem, that all personal bankruptcies are pathological, for whatever reason.  The lawyer uses the analogy of Honma’s wife’s death in an auto accident caused by a dozing truck driver.  The individual driver cannot be blamed fully, as there are any number of social institutions failing here, including safety commissions, highway engineers, worker’s rights groups, etc.  Mizoguchi gives Honma this final warning: “There was nothing fundamentally wrong with her [Shoko].  She was doing her darnedest to make a place for herself.  There but for the grace of God…Remember that.  Otherwise you won’t recognize her, or the woman who took her place” (112).  While Honma listens intently to the older man’s advice, he will struggle with these issues of sympathy and blame throughout the novel. 

Early on in his investigation, Honma assumes that “when a woman commits a crime, there must be a man involved somewhere.  Left to their own devices, women don’t have much of a criminal impulse.  They do it for the man….  Women’s crimes are crimes of passion” (121).  Kawana speaks to the misogynist tendency within Japanese detective fiction in the early part of the twentieth century.  During this time, within criminology and its not-so-strange bedfellow, detective fiction, women were thought to be capable of committing only crimes of passion, a reading that effectively reduces women to their sexuality, which in turn is read as inherently pathological (Kawana 72).  Curiously, in such a context, the most progressive representation of women (in the work of Ranpo, in Kawana’s reading) actually allowed women to be maniacal killers without reason—or, at the very least, without a reason that ultimately led to a man.  While his years on the police force had apparently taught Honma to always look for a man when dealing with a female crime, he later admits that the enigma of both Shoko and Kyoko had changed his thinking on the matter: “[W]omen don’t always commit crimes of passion,” he admits and elsewhere concludes: “This woman [Kyoko], she had her reasons.  She didn’t do terrible things to other people just because bad things happened to her.  She wanted to do bad things” (123; 256).  Kyoko remains truly monstrous to Honma, but it is precisely through this monstrousness that the detective is able to recognize a “new” construction of femininity foreclosed by his previous assumptions.  To put this another way, here amid the pathologized desire of the killer(s), a feminine desire—and this phrasing is not ill-chosen—for an independent identity and place is registered. 

While the femme fatale typically moves a text from the space of desire to drive, Miyabe interestingly redirects her femme fatale toward the former register.  We find a token of this reversal in a plot point that, in the context of detective fiction, must be read in terms of Hammett’s Flitcraft parable from The Maltese Falcon.  Both Shoko and Kyoko, despite the fact that they ruthlessly manipulate their identity and forsake their families in their actions, each have, apparently, a pain of sentiment that causes their undoing.  In Shoko’s case, despite the fact she left her home as soon as possible and never looked back, to say nothing of the fact that she may very well have killed her mother, she takes the time to buy a family plot for her mother’s remains.  It is while shopping for the gravesite that the now targeted Shoko meets Kyoko and, presumably, begins her final hours.  In Kyoko’s case, she made the mistake of keeping an old photograph of a house that turns out to be a “model home” from a house expo—this is the only keepsake her fiancé Jun finds among her things after she disappears.  Kyoko apparently kept this photograph, as it reminded her of the ideal home she would like to own one day, and the details Honma discovers from following this clue ultimately lead to her capture.  Much like the American predecessor, the women adjust themselves to the falling beams of a disintegrating social order, where identity might be created at random, and yet each in a way adjusts to beams not falling, as it were, in seeking out tokens of the very homes they betrayed.  Rather than fully accepting their fate, these women seemingly pine for what has been lost.  While this may or may not inspire the sympathy of the reader or detective, it is clear that Miyabe wishes to suggest that independence and community desperately need to be rethought in an age of consumer lifestyles—a time when more traditional structures of identity compete with any number of new “spaces” of the self.

The novel concludes with Honma and Tamotsu, Kyoko’s childhood friend, waiting in a café for Kyoko to arrive.  As she enters the café, Honma describes her as without “a trace of suffering, not a shadow of loneliness in her face” (295).  Her beauty is set off by the sharp glint of reflected light that bounces from her various pieces of jewelry—an apt chiaroscuro-esque figure for the depth vainly promised by seductive surfaces.  She enters expecting to meet only her next victim, and the detective silently thinks to himself the following words that conclude the novel: “My questions don’t matter.  I want to hear your story.  The parts you’ve never told anyone, the lives you carry everywhere with you.  The months in hiding, the interest you’ve been quietly compounding.  There will be plenty of time, Kyoko.  Starting from now, as Tamotsu’s hand comes to rest on your shoulder” (296).  Miyabe’s success at scripting a progressive representation of femininity as monstrous—that is women not reduced to the pathology of their sexuality—is nevertheless reappropriated by the regime of the brother, who will attempt to reduce the femme fatale to depth of meaning (i.e., an object of desire) rather than a more lethal subject of the drive.  In this way, an Oedipal nostalgia continues to inform the pact made by the “brothers” of the novel, a conservative gesture of containment that is never so apparent as when the detective waits for Kyoko to account for herself.  However, given her inspired manipulations of the features of the femme fatale character, one suspects that this is precisely Miyabe’s point.  Kyoko does not appear until the final two pages of the novel, and she herself never utters a word.  Even as the novel closes, she remains effectively without a place, and her haunting presence is all the more powerful because of this fact.  Miyabe’s nostalgia for more traditional Japanese communities gone by notwithstanding, the novel becomes, then, an indictment of such post-oedipal nostalgia that would erase woman according to these very strategies.


1. For example, Dany Nobus suggests that Lacan’s comments on the Japanese should invite us to consider the cultural limits of psychoanalysis.  A more sustained account of this cultural difference should begin with a reading of Freud’s own antagonistic relationship with the Japanese analyst Heisaku Kosawa, as well as a reading of Oedipus alongside Ajase (19-44). 

2. See Lacan, Jacques.  Seminar XVII, 87-142.


Works Cited

Copjec, Joan. Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists. Cambridge: MIT P, 1994. 

Doane, Mary Ann. Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, and Psychoanalysis.  New York: Routledge, 1991. 

Huang, Yiji. “A Man Awakened from Dreams: Rereading the Modern Girl Image in A Fool’s Love by Tanizaki Jun’ichirM.” Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies 5.2 (2007): 77-87.

Kawana, Sari. Murder Most Modern: Detective Fiction and Japanese Culture.  Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008.  

Lacan, Jacques. “Lituraterre.”  Unpublished translation, 1971.

---. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, 1969-1970. Trans. Russell Grigg. New York: Norton, 2007.   

---.  Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment. Ed. Joan Copjec.  Trans. Denis Hollier, Rosalind Krauss, and Annette Michelson. New York:  Norton, 1990. 

MacCannell, Juliet Flower. The Regime of the Brother: After Patriarchy. New York:  Routledge, 1991. 

Miyabe, Miyuki. All She Was Worth. Trans. Alfred Birnbaum. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Nobus, Dany.  “Illiterature.”  Re-Inventing the Symptom.  Ed. Luke Thurston. New York:  Other, 2002. 19-44.  

Ogasawara, Shin’ya. “The Instance of the Letter in the Japanese Unconscious.” Trans. Jack Stone. 5 December, 2009. <http://web.missouri.edu/~stonej/JapanUnc.pdf >.

Seaman, Amanda.  Bodies of Evidence: Women, Society, and Detective Fiction in 1990s Japan.  Honolulu: U of Hawai’i P, 2004.  

Sugimoto, Yoshio. An Introduction to Japanese Society.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. 

 Verhaeghe, Paul. “The Collapse of the Function of the Father and Its Effect on Gender Roles.”  Sexuation: Sic 3. Ed. Renata Salecl.  Durham: Duke UP, 2000. 131-56.

Žižek, Slavoj.  Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture.  Cambridge: MIT P, 1991.    


Alexander N. Howe is Associate Professor of English at the University of the District of Columbia where he teaches courses on American literature, literary theory, and film.  He is the author of It Didn't Mean Anything: A Psychoanalytic Reading of American Detective Fiction.


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