Facial reconstruction

Search LJMU Research Online

Browse Repository | Browse E-Theses

Perfection and Performativity in Print: Visual Analyses of Gender and Sexuality Portrayals in Popular Japanese Graphic Arts since the 17th Century

Lynch, J (2022) Perfection and Performativity in Print: Visual Analyses of Gender and Sexuality Portrayals in Popular Japanese Graphic Arts since the 17th Century. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

2022lynchphd.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (5MB) | Preview
[img] Text
2022lynchphdinternal.pdf - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (19MB)


This thesis analyses the portrayals and representations of gender and sexuality since the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) in Japanese graphic arts. Changes in gender recognition since the 17th century have impacted on the way that gender and sexuality is portrayed visually, with innovations in artistic technologies forging new aesthetic representations and portrayals. Focusing on popular graphic arts, this study explores the idealised portrayals and representations of femininity, masculinity and cross-gender performances in ukiyo-e and manga. These popular graphic arts were and are part of a mass-producible popular culture that depicts counter cultures not located in the normative imagery or lives of the audience, but which illustrate ideals, that is perfection, and, in some cases, fantasy.

The research utilises a cross-disciplinary approach regarding the scholarship consulted to enable a variety of contexts relating to femininity, masculinity and cross-gender acts to be explored. As the work is situated within the field of visual cultures, art historical and visual methodological processes including compositional interpretation, iconology, iconography and case studies are used in the analysis of the imagery; thus ensuring the analyses are positioned within the broader contexts of reality versus idealisation.

Beginning with a study of femininity this thesis explores how women, as subjects, consumers and creators, have impacted upon how genders and sexualities are represented throughout Japanese artistic practices. Gender performativity as an illustrative as well as theatrical performative convention is investigated through cross-gender and cross-dressing acts within theatrical, visual arts and popular culture spheres, leading to an exploration of masculine representations. This is achieved by questioning the idealised ‘male’ forms in Japanese art that range from androgynous or ambiguously gendered beauties, through to hyper-masculinity. Through the interpretation of these representations it is clear that societal changes and attitudes towards gender and sexuality have impacted on the ways in which graphic arts and media represent people, despite continued aesthetic influences.

However, these ideals are not necessarily reflective of the material body or sexuality being portrayed and can in fact act as an illustrative surrogate. This is evidenced in the way ‘male’ homoerotism is prevalent in manga created for a young female audience as, Fujimoto asserts, a means of escaping expected gender roles. This study extends these findings by evaluating the historical formulation of gendered representation through rigorous scholarship, which is then applied to visual portrayals through detailed case study analyses of ukiyo-e, illustrations, and manga. These interpretations of graphic arts consider the extent to which ideals impact on the ways in which gender and sexuality are represented in imagery. Ultimately, the performative nature of gender is vital to these analyses. Despite differences in aesthetics and attitudes, the thesis concludes that influences can be found in Japanese popular graphic arts and the portrayals of gender since the Tokugawa period.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: bishōnen; gender; graphic arts; illustration; Japan; manga; onnagata; sexuality; shōjo; ukiyo-e
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Art & Design
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2022 11:31
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 11:32
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00017872
Supervisors: Roberts, E, Wright, L and Fallows, C
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17872
View Item View Item