Poison women : political bodies of an Ero-Guro-Nansense age
Wong, Shu Min
Date of Issue2016
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
This project intends to explore how Edogawa Rampo rewrites the figure of the dokufu (毒婦) or poison woman as a political figure capable of articulating the logic of Japan’s ero-guro-nansense years during the 1920s to 1930s. The dehistoricised body of the female criminal was used as a tool to instruct female sexual behavior and purge the moral ills of the body politic by extrapolating them onto an Other. However, Edogawa Rampo deconstructs the Otherness of the poison woman as a social myth rather than an empirical reality. Through acknowledging the construct, Rampo’s ero-guro-nansense fiction reinstates the poison woman as an Other that can articulate the anxieties of the modern Taisho Era. From the mother-dominated society of Japan’s national narrative to the 1930s Modern Girl, the poison woman thus becomes a medium through which the undercurrents of Japan’s anxieties are shown up. By analyzing Rampo’s treatment of the poison woman in his novellas The Black Lizard (Kuro Tōkage) and The Beast in the Shadows (Inju), this paper aims to show how he restores the ability of the female criminal as a part of the social fabric from which she is created.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University