Eastern Associated Telegraph Lines in 1924 (courtesy of)

Modern Japanese Literature Seminar: Japanese-Language Literature in North America

Professors Ted Mack and Tsuboi Hideto

Winter 2015: JAPAN 532

Mondays and Wednesdays

SAV 168

This quarter we will be focusing on Japanese-language literature related to North America, recent scholarship on the topic, and certain critical texts on approaches to cultural hybridity.

Many of the literary text use unsimplified kanji (旧漢字) and pre-reform orthography (旧仮名遣い). Please refer to this chart for converting kanji, and this explanation for kana use.

Some of the literary texts are quite rare in their printed form, so we will be using versions that are available online from the 近代デジタルライブラリー, which is a service of the National Diet Library. Henry Smith's website has a concise introduction to the digital library. The library's browser takes a little getting used to. 「コマ」 is the word for a frame or cell, as in film; here is refers to a single image, which usually contains two pages from the original book. You will likely want to chose the full screen option for viewing the cells.

Students' reading speeds differ so dramatically that it is difficult to provide a detailed schedule in advance. Please come to the first day of class to find out how much to prepare for subsequent meetings. No preparation is required for the first day of class, January 5.

We will be focusing on the following 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

Nagai Kafū, Amerika monogatari (1908)

Arishima Takeo, Meiro (1918)

Hosaka Kiichi, Wagahai no mitaru Amerika (1913-14)

Maedakō Hiroichirō, Santō senkyaku (1921)

Nagahara Shōson, Yoru ni nageku (1925)

Additional Resources

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

We will be determining and adjusting our reading schedule as we go along, but here is one possibility:

† Only a selection (抄) will be read

* English translation available (英訳無し)

January 5&7 Introduction and background readings

Eiichiro Azuma, Between Two Empires†
Hibi introduction, 11-35
Vassil introduction, 1-27
Leong introduction, 1-6

January 12 & 14 Japanese literature/Japanese American literature

1908 Nagai Kafû, “Night Talk in a Cabin”* American Stories 永井荷風「船室夜話」
Hibi 172-191
Vassil 129-196

Trip to the University of Washington's Special Collections

January 19 & 21

Class cancelled for Martin Luther King Day (1/19) and a departmental event (1/21)

January 26 & 28

Nagai Kafû, 1903-08 American Stories 永井荷風『アメリカ物語』

Maedakô Hiroichirô (Heroichiro K. Myderco), "The Twentieth Century," "A New Year Street in Yeddo" (1913), "The Hangman" (1912), "Phantasies" (1916), "Japanese Literature To-day" (1916), "The Mikado's Crane-Room" (1912), "The Unity of Asia" (1912), "The Monument" (1913)

February 2 & 4

1921 Maedakô Hiroichirô’s "The Passengers in Steerage" 前田河広一郎「三等船客
Vassil 197-248

Hosaka Kiichi, Wagahai no mitaru Amerika† 保坂帰一『吾輩の見たる亜米利加』
"Nihonjin-machi" parts 1 and 2, 314-322, and "Yamato minzoku no hatten" parts 1, 2, and 3, 353-59, 376-390, 402-410
Vassil 28-79
See Vassil 255-58 for a translation of the preface into English.

February 9 & 11

1918 Arishima Takeo, Labyrinth* 有島武郎『迷路』
Hibi 224-241
Leong 36-73

February 18

1925 Tani Jôji, Tekisasu mushuku† 谷譲次『テキサス無宿』
佐伯彰一「日米関係のなかの文学-9-『テキサス無宿』の発想」 文学界 37(7), p174-190, 1983-07*

February 23 & 25

The critical basis of a new literature

1915 Okina Kyuin, “Iminchi bungei”, etc. 翁久允「移民地文芸」など
Vassil 80-128
Kobayashi, 21-29
Hibi 242-262
Mizuno, chapter 2

1925 Nagahara Shoson, Lament in the Night* 永原宵村『夜に嘆く』
Leong 74-103

March 2 & 4

1942-45 Tessaku

Hibi 288-318
Mizuno, chapter 7
Kobayashi, 72-113
Tetsuden Kashima, Judgment Without Trial

March 9 & 11 Final presentations

March 19 Deadline for submitting revised final presentations


Students will be expected to participate actively in structuring the course and leading discussions. Duties will be determined during the first week of classes.


Grading for seminars 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, write a paper that will be presented orally to the class and then submitted. Active participation will involve raising questions, offerings interpretations, and providing on-the-spot translations.

The final oral presentation will be 20 minutes, so the written paper should be 8-10 pages in length. Each student will be expected to make an argument about one of the texts (literary, critical, or metacritical) we read, or about another text that is chosen in consultation with the instructors. The argument will be supported by concrete evidence from the texts.


Background pattern courtesy of SubtlePatterns

Page last updated on February 2, 2015