Japanese/Japanese American Women Writers (JPNT 177)

JPNT 177 – Japanese and Japanese American Women Writers: How, Where, and What

The course will examine the writings of classical/modern Japanese/Japanese American women writers within their local/global settings focusing on what they wrote, why they wrote, and where they wrote. The course will also explore how local/global gender and race politics inform these writings—and their reception—and look at the ways these formulations (which have crossed back and forth across the Pacific from the earliest Japanese immigration to the U.S. through international exchanges to this day) continue to fashion the writings of these women writers.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to

▪ Contextualize individual works within Japanese/Japanese American social, cultural, and gender histories and the paradigms of literary production.
▪ Examine literary theory and understand its role in the production of what constitutes literature.
▪ Interrogate the notion of race, gender, and literature and their relevance for Japanese and Japanese American literature.
▪ Critique and interrogate theoretical assumptions behind individual texts and their cultural production.
▪ Develop the ability “to think on one’s feet” and actively participate in a high level of discussion.
▪ Synthesize information and present it in a formal oral presentation.
▪ Write abstracts for papers.
▪ Write essays that critically examine works by women writers in the interstices of race, gender, nationhood and see how the transference from one culture (through translation) to another affects Japanese women writers, on the one hand, while the living in at least two different cultures affects Japanese American women writers, on the other.

Sample Reading Assignments

1. Kayono, Spirit Academy Love Ghost
2. Kirino, Natsuo, Out
3. Kogawa, Joy, Obasan
4. Matsuda, Mari J., Where is Your Body? And Other Essays on Race, Gender, and the Law
5. Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji (Tyler abridged)
6. Ogawa Yoko, The Housekeeper and the Professor
7. Otsuki, Julie, The Buddha in the Attic
8. Ozeki, Ruth L., All Over Creation
9. Yamashita, Karen, The Tropic of Orange
10. Other readings on Sakai.

There will be no midterm or final. In lieu of a final will be there will be a 10-minute oral presentation and submission of a final project of the student’s choosing. We will talk further about what the project, but it could entail 1) a translation of a fictional or non-fictional text which explores Japanese/Japanese American issues surrounding gender, race, and/or sexuality, 2) an original short story/poetry that centers on gender, race, and/or sexuality in Japan, Japanese America, or communities of color, 3) a community based exploration of Japanese, Japanese American, or other female of color communities,* or 4) even a manga strip/text of one’s own creation which deals with gender, race, and/or sexuality in communities of color.

*Kristen Fukushima, the IDAAS Community Engagement Coordinator, has graciously agreed to help work out some possibilities, so please let me know if you are interested is such a final project.