Organized Panel Session
The animalic, divine, haunted, possessed: when the non-human intrudes in a narrative, the fixtures of mortal ethics and the foundations of humanity begin to unravel. With possible outcomes ranging from the transhuman, an enhanced version of humanity, to the posthuman, a state of dissolution of boundaries, these tales challenge the audience to immerse themselves in fear, disgust, desire and empathy to negotiate the definition of humanity. How does the classical treatment of mononoke who define core social structures compare with modern retellings of animal spirit romances that do the same? What complex of ideas does the ubiquitous trope of the snake-woman unveil in retellings within Japan and China? How do narratives of the non-human empower authors to redefine or critique their societies through embrace of alternate humanities? Kaoru Hayashi’s work examines liminal experiences with mononoke at the physical heart of the social structures of the family world, by the bedside in The Tale of Genji. Fumiko Joo looks at the reappropriation of the snake-woman trope by a female author to question the standard wisdom of received narratives of femininity. The femme fatale is taken up again in the modern era with an inter-regional perspective by Liang Luo. Anne Rebull examines how transgressive romance prompts a reconsideration of social and socialist ethics. Concerned at core with the human condition, the nature of these narratives traverses cultural and temporal boundaries; this panel exposes those connections by juxtaposing tales of the non-human in Japan and China, spanning the 12th to the 20th centuries.