Cornyetz, Nina

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Female. Education: City University of New York, B.A., 1980; Columbia University, M.A., 1987, Ph.D., 1991.


Office—New York University, Gallatin School of Individualized Instruction, 715 Broadway, New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected]


Rutgers University, NJ, assistant professor; Gallatin School of Individualized Instruction, New York University, New York, NY, instructor.


Fellowships from Now Foundation (Tokyo, Japan), 1990, Japan Foundation, 1995-96, and Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture, Rutgers University, 1997-98.


Dangerous Women, Deadly Words: Phallic Fantasy and Modernity in Three Japanese Writers, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1999.

Also contributor to scholarly journals, including Social Text and Differences.


A book about modern aesthetics in Japanese literature and cinema.


As a college faculty member at Rutgers University and then at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Instruction, Nina Cornyetz specializes in literary and film theory, particularly in East-Asian culture. Her articles have included studies of Japanese hip-hop fans who actually blacken their faces in an attempt to emulate their musical idols, and a comparison of the aesthetics and ethics of Hong Kong gangster movies with their Japanese and American counterparts. Cornyetz has also studied and written extensively on the portrayal of women in Japanese literature.

Dangerous Women, Deadly Words: Phallic Fantasy and Modernity in Three Japanese Writers focuses on the work of three Japanese writers of the twentieth century: Izumi Kyoka, Enchi Fumiko, and Nakagami Kenji. Traditionally, the dangerous woman trope that appears in the work of these writers has been interpreted as symbolizing "female essence" or tradition in contrast to powerful, male, modern "Japaneseness." However, Cornyetz takes a wider view, using close literary reading to situate these troubling female characters in the radical modernization of Japan, starting with the Meiji restoration and continuing through the present day.

Cornyetz begins with Kyoka (1873-1939), who grew up in the shadow of the 1868 revolution that brought the young emperor Meiji into power and launched a period of dramatic industrialization and social upheaval throughout Japanese society. For Cornyetz, Kyoka's portrayals of mothers and enchantresses hark back to a more settled time and seem written in direct opposition to the dramatic changes happening all around him. On the other hand, Fumiko (1905-1986), the most famous female writer of her generation, focused on the immediate postwar period, when an almost maniacal obsession with childbirth seemed to subordinate every other aspect of femininity. Fumiko's characterizations of middle-aged women use whatever sacred or profane power they have to avenge themselves on a society that seems to have no use for them. Kenji (1946-1992) is a somewhat marginal literary figure, but his writings about male homoeroticism, pre-Buddhist tales, and his own Buraku outcaste class provide a counterweight to the fear of women's voices and an identification with female otherness. According to Pacific Affairs contributor Margherita Long, "The book's main achievement is to draw these elements into a compelling account of why sexual excess, maternity, voice and the monogatari form [a prose style invented by women at the medieval Japanese court] are integral to each writer precisely in their systematic codings as feminine and abject." For Journal of Asian Studies reviewer Atsuko Ueda, "Rigorous use of psychoanalytic and feminist theories, coupled with close textual analyses, make Nina Cornyetz's exploration of a literary trope of the 'dangerous woman' a stimulating study."



Journal of Asian Studies, May, 2002, Atsuko Ueda, review of Dangerous Women, Deadly Words: Phallic Fantasy and Modernity in Three Japanese Writers, p. 722.

National Womens Studies Association Journal, summer, 2001, Claire Z. Mamola, review of Dangerous Women, Deadly Words, p. 149.

Pacific Affairs, fall, 2000, Margherita Long, review of Dangerous Women, Deadly Words, p. 449.

Times Literary Supplement, June 18, 1999, Anthony Thwaite, review of Dangerous Women, Deadly Words, p. 29.


New York University Web site, (August 27, 2004), "Nina Cornyetz."

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Cornyetz, Nina

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