Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (MA)

Degree Level



Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies


Elizabeth Markham

Committee Member

Tatsuya Fukushima

Second Committee Member

Rembrandt Wolpert


Language, literature and linguistics, Social sciences, Communicatiion and the arts, Anime, Gender, Japanese, Literature, Manga, Theater


The performativity of gender through cross-dressing has been a staple in Japanese media throughout the centuries. This thesis engages with the pervasiveness of cross-dressing in popular Japanese media, from the modern shōjo gender-bender genre of manga and anime to the traditional Japanese theatre. Drawing on theories from gender-studies and performance aesthetics to delineate the female gender in traditional Japanese theatre, I follow the roles of, representation of, and media for women, concentrating on (1) manga, a form of sequential art featuring illustrations with corresponding text, (2) anime, animated productions (where the word anime is the abbreviated pronunciation of “animation” in Japanese, and (3) live-action dorama, or simply dorama, television dramas, not animated, but acted by live actors. With the permission of Hatori Bisco, and concentrating on my own translation of a single chapter from her manga, Ouran High School Host Club, as my case study, I complement my focus on gender performativity and cross-dressing, by analyzing the act of reading the manga in the light of contemporary cognitive studies in comic scholarship. Throughout my thesis, then, I frame the history of the female subject in Japanese popular media, through an analysis of the shōjo genre, the act of reading a shōjo manga, and the actual plot of that shōjo manga and its derivations to support my argument that in my material cross-dressing and gender performativity carry an enigmatic fascination that entraps the curiosity of audiences.