Title

How Tomoe Defines Herself: Tomoe’s “Practice” as a Warrior

Presenter Information

Sara GantzFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Japanese and English/TESOL (Non-cert.)

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

LeRon Harrison

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

The Japanese character of Tomoe, who is thought to have lived during the late twelfth century, has changed overtime. Her life and identity is highly debated, because there are various versions of her story. For example, it is debated whether she was her master’s wife or just his lover. The title of “Onna-bugeisha” (literally meaning “female warrior”) is often given to her, though original texts never refer to her as such (or “Onna-musha,” also meaning “female warrior”). Previous research answers who Tomoe might have been, but do not answer the question: “How did Tomoe define herself?” This paper will look at the original texts that Tomoe appears in, such as the Heike Monogatari (most likely compiled sometime between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries), to discuss not who she is believed to be, but how she defined herself. Todd May’s philosophy of “practices” will be used as a lens to help discuss how Tomoe defines herself through her “practice”. By using May’s philosophy, Tomoe’s warriorhood takes center stage in defining her, because that is the one “practice” that remains constant across these old texts and is what Tomoe uses to ultimately define herself. I argue that Tomoe is a warrior (her “practice”) and is not defined by her womanhood or her relationship with her master, Kiso no Yoshinaka, because she does not let those aspects define her. Tomoe is defined by her “practice” as a warrior. The other aspects take the background and are, in the end, unimportant in defining her.

Fall Scholars Week 2018 Event

GLT 400

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How Tomoe Defines Herself: Tomoe’s “Practice” as a Warrior

The Japanese character of Tomoe, who is thought to have lived during the late twelfth century, has changed overtime. Her life and identity is highly debated, because there are various versions of her story. For example, it is debated whether she was her master’s wife or just his lover. The title of “Onna-bugeisha” (literally meaning “female warrior”) is often given to her, though original texts never refer to her as such (or “Onna-musha,” also meaning “female warrior”). Previous research answers who Tomoe might have been, but do not answer the question: “How did Tomoe define herself?” This paper will look at the original texts that Tomoe appears in, such as the Heike Monogatari (most likely compiled sometime between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries), to discuss not who she is believed to be, but how she defined herself. Todd May’s philosophy of “practices” will be used as a lens to help discuss how Tomoe defines herself through her “practice”. By using May’s philosophy, Tomoe’s warriorhood takes center stage in defining her, because that is the one “practice” that remains constant across these old texts and is what Tomoe uses to ultimately define herself. I argue that Tomoe is a warrior (her “practice”) and is not defined by her womanhood or her relationship with her master, Kiso no Yoshinaka, because she does not let those aspects define her. Tomoe is defined by her “practice” as a warrior. The other aspects take the background and are, in the end, unimportant in defining her.