Undō Shōjo: Representations of Schoolgirls and Sports in Prewar Japanese Girls Magazines

LaGretia Copp's picture
April 22, 2021
United States
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Japanese History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Undō Shōjo: Representations of Schoolgirls and Sports in Prewar Japanese Girls Magazines

By Francesca Pizarro, PhD Candidate, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 5:30 PM CT, via Zoom

Japan’s vibrant prewar girls’ culture centered around the circulation and consumption of popular shōjo or girls magazines that began appearing in the first decade of the 20th century and subsequently gained mass commercial success in the Taishō [1912-1926] and early-Shōwa [1926-1989] eras. Enjoying a readership that transcended class and geography, they were responsible for disseminating to a wider public the various state-sponsored policies, educational innovations, and schoolgirl trends fashioning the experiences of female students attending exclusive higher all-girls schools or kōtō jogakkō. Among the popular representations of schoolgirl life in the pages of these magazines were those set in outdoor sports fields and gymnasiums depicting girls taking part in school-enforced exercise and sports competitions. This talk will examine the depiction of schoolgirls engaged in sports in photo spreads, educator columns, and editorial pieces alongside their representation in the shōjo stories also published in magazines. It proposes that some of the major works defining shōjo culture in the period not only engaged with national ideologies governing physical education in all-girls schools but also had the potential to destabilize them.

About the Speaker

Francesca Pizarro is a PhD candidate at the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Following a year of research at the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan, she has returned to the U.S. and is currently working on her dissertation on the representations of the jogakusei or schoolgirl figure in early 20th century Japanese literature and popular culture. The dissertation project examines various works of fiction featuring the schoolgirl alongside a vibrant print culture, considering how social and literary discourses of the period engage with each other in fraught encounters to define schoolgirls and to gender and engender spaces.


Sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Center for East Asian Studies, University of Kansas


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Contact Info: 

LaGretia Copp

Center for East Asian Studies

University of Kansas

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