Eastern Associated Telegraph Lines in 1924 (courtesy of)

Japanese-Language Literature of North and South America

Professor Ted Mack

Spring 2015: JAPAN 435

Tuesdays and Thursdays

SMI 111

This class will focus on Japanese-language literature of North and South America. The texts we will read were written from the first decade of the twentieth century through the first decade of this century, by everyone from travelers who did not intend to stay abroad indefinitely to immigrants who hoped to make a new home outside of Japan. With works by both men and women, the class will examine the varieties of experiences had by individuals spanning from positions of relatively economic, social, and educational privilege to positions of significant deprivation and struggle. Students should be prepared for the texts to contain many distressing elements, from racial discrimination to exploitation based on gender and economics. At the same time, the texts reveal the various forms of joy, camaraderie, and hope that kept many alive under oft-trying circumstances. Students will not only be exposed to the history of Japanese abroad, but to the histories of North and South America from a perspective they might not yet know.

As this will be a small group, we will adjust the specific reading assignments based on students' backgrounds and abilities.

JAPAN 435 fulfills the JAPAN 323 requirement for the literature focus of the Japanese major. It may be used to fulfill other requirements as well.

The following texts are required: Nagai Kafū, American Stories; Nagahara Shōson, Lament in the Night; and Frank Kiyama, The Four Immigrants Manga.

Other readings will be provided electronically.

Course dates and the authors whom we will be reading:

March 31 and April 2: Introduction and Nagai Kafū

April 7 (but not April 9): Nagai Kafū

April 14 and April 16: Arishima Takeo and Maedakō Hiroichirō

April 21 and April 23: Nagahara Shōson

April 28 and April 30: Frank Kiyama (May 1: Eiichiro Azuma lecture)

May 5 and May 7: Ishikawa Tatsuzō and others

(No class May 12 and May 14)

May 19 and May 21: Tamura Toshiko and Oba Minako

May 26 and May 28: Ishikawa Yoshimi

June 2 and June 4: Hoshino Tomoyuki


Non-required Reference Texts


Junko Kobayashi, "Bitter sweet home": Celebration of biculturalism in Japanese language Japanese" (Iowa, 2005)

Andrew Leong, "Impossible Diplomacies: Japanese American Literature from 1884 to 1938" (Berkeley, 2012)

Kristina Vassil, "Passages: Writing Diasporic Identity in the Literature of Early Twentieth-Century Japanese America" (Michigan, 2011)


Mizuno Mariko, Nikkei Amerikajin no bungaku katsudō no rekishiteki hensen : 1880-nendai kara 1980-nendai ni kakete (2013)

Hibi Yoshitaka, Japaniizu Amerika : imin bungaku, shuppan bunka, shūyōjo (2014)

Literary Texts in the Original Language

Nagai Kafū, Amerika monogatari

Arishima Takeo, Aru onna

Maedakō Hiroichirō, Santō senkyaku

Nagahara Shōson, Yoru ni nageku

Additional Resources

Andrew Wertheimer, "Japanese American community libraries in America's concentration camps, 1942-1946" (Wisconsin, 2004)


Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussions. This may involve regular response papers.


Grading for JAPAN 435 is determined by student performance, with expectations determined by the student's background. Students will be expected to complete readings, participate actively in each meeting, and write a final paper that will be presented orally to the class before submission.

The final oral presentation will be 15 minutes, so the written paper should be 5-7 pages in length. Each student will be expected to make an argument about one of the texts we read, supporting his or her interpretation using concrete evidence from the texts.


Background pattern courtesy of SubtlePatterns

Page last updated on March 22, 2015