Victorian Maids and Neo-Victorian Labour in Kaoru Mori’s Emma: A Victorian Romance

Elizabeth HO

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

Abstract

While neo-Victorian graphic narratives have proliferated in the West (especially in Britain and the U.S.), Japan has emerged as an equally robust site of neo-Victorian production. This paper examines the persistence of the British nineteenth century in Japanese manga and explores the question: what role does the Victorian past play in the Japanese present? I focus on Kaoru Mori’s popular manga series: Emma: A Victorian Romance (2002-2006). Set in the 1880s and drawing on a variety of Victorian tropes and narratives, Mori chronicles the story of Emma, a young maid from London, who enters into an upstairs/downstairs romance with William Jones, the eldest son of an industrialist family. In this article, I explore the curious conflation of the work of the female manga artist (as depicted by Mori’s autobiographical cartoons included with each volume of the series) with that of the Victorian maid. I argue that the reappearance of the Victorian maid in Emma and the ‘maid café’ phenomenon forms a serious engagement with Japan’s (post)feminist politics perceived to be haunted by gender ideologies from its Meiji-era past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-63
Number of pages24
JournalNeo-Victorian Studies
Volume6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

Labor
Maids
Romance
Victorian Era
Manga
Japan
1880s
Japanese Manga
Cartoon
Tropes
Chronicles
Artist
Persistence
Conflation
Ideology
Meiji
Industrialists

Keywords

  • Emma A Victorian Romance
  • Japan
  • Kaoru Mori
  • domestic
  • labour
  • maid
  • manga
  • upstairs/downstairs romance

Cite this

@article{b36b0771dd8340ebb64e145ff125989e,
title = "Victorian Maids and Neo-Victorian Labour in Kaoru Mori’s Emma: A Victorian Romance",
abstract = "While neo-Victorian graphic narratives have proliferated in the West (especially in Britain and the U.S.), Japan has emerged as an equally robust site of neo-Victorian production. This paper examines the persistence of the British nineteenth century in Japanese manga and explores the question: what role does the Victorian past play in the Japanese present? I focus on Kaoru Mori’s popular manga series: Emma: A Victorian Romance (2002-2006). Set in the 1880s and drawing on a variety of Victorian tropes and narratives, Mori chronicles the story of Emma, a young maid from London, who enters into an upstairs/downstairs romance with William Jones, the eldest son of an industrialist family. In this article, I explore the curious conflation of the work of the female manga artist (as depicted by Mori’s autobiographical cartoons included with each volume of the series) with that of the Victorian maid. I argue that the reappearance of the Victorian maid in Emma and the ‘maid caf{\'e}’ phenomenon forms a serious engagement with Japan’s (post)feminist politics perceived to be haunted by gender ideologies from its Meiji-era past.",
keywords = "Emma A Victorian Romance, Japan, Kaoru Mori, domestic, labour, maid, manga, upstairs/downstairs romance",
author = "Elizabeth HO",
year = "2013",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
pages = "40--63",
journal = "Neo-Victorian Studies",
issn = "1757-9481",
number = "2",

}

Victorian Maids and Neo-Victorian Labour in Kaoru Mori’s Emma: A Victorian Romance. / HO, Elizabeth.

In: Neo-Victorian Studies, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2013, p. 40-63.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Victorian Maids and Neo-Victorian Labour in Kaoru Mori’s Emma: A Victorian Romance

AU - HO, Elizabeth

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - While neo-Victorian graphic narratives have proliferated in the West (especially in Britain and the U.S.), Japan has emerged as an equally robust site of neo-Victorian production. This paper examines the persistence of the British nineteenth century in Japanese manga and explores the question: what role does the Victorian past play in the Japanese present? I focus on Kaoru Mori’s popular manga series: Emma: A Victorian Romance (2002-2006). Set in the 1880s and drawing on a variety of Victorian tropes and narratives, Mori chronicles the story of Emma, a young maid from London, who enters into an upstairs/downstairs romance with William Jones, the eldest son of an industrialist family. In this article, I explore the curious conflation of the work of the female manga artist (as depicted by Mori’s autobiographical cartoons included with each volume of the series) with that of the Victorian maid. I argue that the reappearance of the Victorian maid in Emma and the ‘maid café’ phenomenon forms a serious engagement with Japan’s (post)feminist politics perceived to be haunted by gender ideologies from its Meiji-era past.

AB - While neo-Victorian graphic narratives have proliferated in the West (especially in Britain and the U.S.), Japan has emerged as an equally robust site of neo-Victorian production. This paper examines the persistence of the British nineteenth century in Japanese manga and explores the question: what role does the Victorian past play in the Japanese present? I focus on Kaoru Mori’s popular manga series: Emma: A Victorian Romance (2002-2006). Set in the 1880s and drawing on a variety of Victorian tropes and narratives, Mori chronicles the story of Emma, a young maid from London, who enters into an upstairs/downstairs romance with William Jones, the eldest son of an industrialist family. In this article, I explore the curious conflation of the work of the female manga artist (as depicted by Mori’s autobiographical cartoons included with each volume of the series) with that of the Victorian maid. I argue that the reappearance of the Victorian maid in Emma and the ‘maid café’ phenomenon forms a serious engagement with Japan’s (post)feminist politics perceived to be haunted by gender ideologies from its Meiji-era past.

KW - Emma A Victorian Romance

KW - Japan

KW - Kaoru Mori

KW - domestic

KW - labour

KW - maid

KW - manga

KW - upstairs/downstairs romance

UR - http://commons.ln.edu.hk/sw_master/3386

M3 - Journal Article (refereed)

VL - 6

SP - 40

EP - 63

JO - Neo-Victorian Studies

JF - Neo-Victorian Studies

SN - 1757-9481

IS - 2

ER -