Power Play in Heian Japan: Sei Shonagon's Makura no sashi

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Title: Power Play in Heian Japan: Sei Shonagon's Makura no sashi
Author: Barndt, Jillian
Advisor: Glassman, Hank
Department: Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Dept. of East Asian Studies
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: Within the Heian period, nikki bungaku, diary literature, began to be produced in great numbers. Written by female members of the court, the prime purpose of nikki was their use as a form of political power. As there was a known audience prior to the writing of nikki, authors would highlight their friends and families within the text, in order for them to receive more prominence within the court. Sei Shonagon's Makura no sashi is one such text, which she used to highlight her patroness, the Empress Sadako, who had fallen into disgrace in the late-tenth century. Sei's use of power within her text is compared to Murasaki Shikibu's Murasaki shikibu nikki, produced in the beginning of the tenth-century, but focusing on the birth of Fujiwara no Michinaga's grandchild. Despite the differences in these two texts, the main purpose, to promote others, remains strong.
Subject: Power (Social sciences) -- Japan -- History
Subject: Japanese literature -- Heian period, 794-1185 -- History and criticism
Subject: Sei Shōnagon, b. ca. 967. Makura no sōshi
Subject: Sei Shōnagon, b. ca. 967 -- Criticism and interpretation
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Barndt, Jillian. "Power Play in Heian Japan: Sei Shonagon's Makura no sashi". 2010. Available electronically from

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