Presented by Bernhard Scheid, research fellow at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, specializes on the history of Shinto. He has published widely on medieval and early modern Shinto, including: The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion (2006, ed. with Mark Teeuwen), as well as on the history of Japanese studies.
The transgressions of the trickster deity Susanoo in the palace of his elder sister, the sun deity Amaterasu, constitute one of the most famous scenes from classical Japanese mythology. Recent interpretations of this episode have repeatedly pointed to its sexual allusions and in fact, male sexual aggression against women seems to constitute the core of the story. At the same time, we note a (conscious?) effort to downplay these sexual aspects in the mythological texts as well as in contemporary interpretations. Instead, the scene became the mythological foundation of a catalogue of “heavenly sins” or misdeeds that made Susanoo the prototypical criminal but left his sexual transgressions aside. While these interpretations have often been treated lightly in modern mythological studies, I will take them together with this episode as an opportunity to discuss shifts in cultural values, gender roles and priestly functions that occurred probably at the time when these myths were put in written form.
There will be a reception at 5:30pm.
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