This book is a feminist reading of the history of gender performance and construction of the female role players, onnagata, of the Kabuki theater. It is not limited to a "theater arts" focus, rather it is a mapping and close analysis of transformative genders through several historical periods in Japan (the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries). In particular, the work focuses on undoing of binary genders, the sensual ambiguity of boy-ness, youth, and female-likeness and the cultural development of the aesthetics of eroticism, nostalgia, and cruelty based in female-like transformative gender acts. The work is also a visual cultures study as it draws not only on literary sources but also prints, photographs, film, and video documentation.

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