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Lectures and Presentations

 

Japanese brushwork: understanding the visual record
9:00 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2001
Thomas E. Taylor Building Room 202
Admission: class enrollment only
Speaker: Nancy Hope

Nancy Hope, Outreach Coordinator of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas, presented "Japanese brushwork: understanding the visual record," a hands-on workshop to Nick Kyle's Beginning Painting and Advanced Painting classes. Her presentation on Japanese painting addressed the cultural and historical aspects of this art, especially the materials used in making it.

Ms. Hope lived in Japan for more than eight years, first as an officer in the United States Navy, and later as a designer and dyer of silk kimono at a Japanese studio in Kyoto. Her masters degrees in education, fine arts and art history are currently put to use at the University of Kansas where she is the Center for East Asian Studies Outreach Coordinator and a KU Continuing Education instructor in art history.

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Modern Japanese Literature's Ten Greatest Hits Special section of The Chart
August 31, 2001

Five editors from The Chart, Missouri Southern's student newspaper, spent two weeks in Japan in May 2001 producing stories and photographs on Japanese culture, media, the role of women, religion, cuisine, fashion, transportation, baseball, and sumo wrestling. A 24-page special section was published on August 31, 2001, giving Missouri Southern students a sampling of what the Land of the Rising Sun has to offer.

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Modern Japanese Literature's Ten Greatest Hits
11:00 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14, 2001
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Van C. Gessel

Dr. Van C. Gessel spoke on "Modern Japanese Literature's Ten Greatest Hits" and "Preparing to Read a Japanese Novel." He is a Professor of Japanese and Dean of the College of Humanities at Brigham Young University, where he has also been Chair of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages. Dr. Gessel received his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Utah, and his master's and Ph.D. degrees in Japanese language and literature at Columbia University.

Modern Japanese Literature's "Top Ten Hits"

The Wild Goose, by Mori Ogai (1913)

  • A simple story of a young woman, "sold" to become the mistress of a moneylender, who gradually awakens to her own individuality but must accept the reality that her dreams cannot be realized.
  • One of the first modern Japanese novels to explore the meaning of individual identity and to examine the ways in which the strictures of Japanese society discourage the development of that individuality.

Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki (1914),

  • The agony of a man who has witnessed how his own attempts to assert his individuality have destroyed the lives of others.
  • A painful and moving story, Kokoro (meaning "the human heart") is both a scathing indictment of human selfishness and betrayal and the first worldclass work of fiction produced in modern Japan.

The Makioka Sisters, by Tanizaki Jun'ichiro (1943-48)

  • In the merchant city of Osaka in the late 1930s, a once-proud aristocratic family in decline tries to marry off one of its daughters.
  • An enlightening, intimate glimpse into how a Japanese family functions: all the political maneuvering, the face-saving games, and the power dynamics that make Japanese institutions work.

The Sound of the Mountain, by Kawabata Yasunari (1950)

  • An elderly man approaching death observes the breakdown of his family in the present, and distances himself from it by retreating further and further into an idealized past.
  • A "haiku-like" novel made up primarily of images and vignettes, short on plot but full of profound sadness over the ugliness of reality in postwar Japan. By Japan's first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Waiting Years, by Enchi Fumiko (1957)

  • In the latter part of the nineteenth century, a bright, capable woman married to an overbearing husband tries to maintain her dignity by managing the household while her husband brings a series of concubines into the house.
  • An incisive study of the power a Japanese woman wields within her own house, but her powerlessness in all other aspects of her life.

The Woman in the Dunes, by Abe Kobo (1962)

  • An insect collector stumbles across a village in the midst of sand dunes; he becomes trapped himself in a house at the bottom of the pit, and though he struggles mightily to escape, finds himself adapting more and more to his environment.
  • A brilliant existential allegory that portrays modern man as entrapped by circumstance while at the same time showing the power of the creative mind to produce meaning in any environment.

Black Rain, by Ibuse Masuji (1966)

  • An extraordinary, painful account of the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Told through the life of one family trying to find a husband for a niece suffering from radiation sickness.
  • The most moving artistic response to the Hiroshima bombing, Ibuse's novel manages somehow to find seeds of hope within the human calamity.

Silence, by Endo Shusaku (1966)

  • In the early seventeenth century, a Portuguese Catholic priest steals into Japan, where the government is systematically torturing Christian converts. There he learns the meaning of Christian sacrifice as he ponders the silence of God in the face of so much suffering.
  • The heart of religious faith, Endo suggests, lies not in outward rituals or even dogmatic purity, but rather in the acts one performs to alleviate the pains of others.

A Personal Matter, by Oe Kenzaburo (1967)

  • A young husband, faced with the birth of a son who will likely be mentally retarded, has to decide whether to let the child live and take responsibility for him or to flee with his lover.
  • Japan's second winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Oe here uses dense imagery to create a jungle-like portrait of modern urban life, where every decision is fraught with danger and the choice to assume one's responsibilities becomes an act of true, personal courage.

Spring Snow, by Mishima Yukio (1967)

  • The first of four volumes depicting the changes in twentieth-century Japanese values, Spring Snow is an idyllic portrait of young infatuation in two noble families that inevitable results in tragedy.
  • Mishima portrays the upper class in Japanese society as shallow and artificial, and yet somehow hauntingly beautiful.

Runners-Up

The Broken Commandment, by Shimazaki Toson (1906)

  • One of the earliest "Western-style" novels in the modern period, this work examines the plight of the "outcast" class in Japanese society through the struggles of a young man torn between keeping his identity a secret and being true to himself by confessing his origins and paying the consequences.
  • Nothing—not love, not familial duty, not economic reward—is more important to the main character of this work than accepting himself for who he is, even if it means he can no longer be a member of Japanese society.

A View by the Sea, by Yasuoka Shotaro (1958)

  • A self-absorbed young man returns to his rural hometown to be with his blind, deranged mother during the last days of her life. In flashback, he ponders the experiences of war and betrayal that have torn his family apart and left him desolate.
  • An outstanding look at the degradation of society and the family as traditional values are torn apart by war and defeat and only the selfish ego remains.

The Doctor's Wife, by Ariyoshi Sawako (1966)

  • In the mid-nineteenth century, a doctor begins experimentation with drugs to anesthetize his patients so that he can perform radical surgery. His wife and his mother rival one another to become the sacrificial guinea pig for his experiments.
  • The fierce competition between wife and mother-in-law is highlighted in this tale, a true history told from the perspective of the women on the fringes rather than the men at the center.

A Singular Rebellion, by Maruya Saiichi (1972)

  • A rare comic novel once again treating the theme of the assertion of individualism against the strictures of society, this time focusing on a grandmother just released from prison for murdering her husband who becomes embroiled in the Japanese student riots of the 1960s.
  • Political and social satire are rare in modern Japanese fiction. This is a refreshingly vibrant look at people still uncertain how or if they want to fit in with the mainstream of Japanese society.

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Preparing to Read a Japanese Novel
1:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, 2001
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Van C. Gessel

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Japanese film Kikujiro
7:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, 2001
Webster Hall Room 105
Admission: free

The 2001 - 2002 season of the Contemporary Foreign Film Series began with a showing of the Japanese film Kikujiro, This film, a surprising change of pace from the maker of Sonatine and Fireworks, was described by Facets as "filled with warm humor as well as a quiet sadness, telling the story of a young boy who takes to the road in search of his mother and falls inwith a brash gambling-crazed tough guy, . . . leading to several offbeat encounters."

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Gockel International Symposium: "Rising Sun, Looming Crisis:
Japan Facing Reform and Transition in the New Millennium"
September 18, 2001
Taylor Performing Arts Center
Admission: free

Morning Discussion: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 18, 2001

"The Japanese Economy: From Rising Sun to Setting Sun…How Could This Happen?"
Dr. William R. Farrell

Evening Discussion: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 18, 2001

"Sunrise, Sunset: Japan's Economy and the American Imagination since World War II."
Dr. William M. Tsutsui

"The Politics of Pain: Prime Minister Koizumi's Attempt to Sell Economic Reform to the Japanese People"
Dr. Mark Tilton

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Degrees of Cultural Accuracy in Memoirs of a Geisha
11:00 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, 2001
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Maggie Childs

Dr. Maggie Childs, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Culture at the University of Kansas, spoke on "Degrees of Cultural Accuracy in Memoirs of a Geisha." Her analysis of this work of contemporary fiction by American author Arthur Golden ranges from the truth about relationships between the sexes in Japan to Japanese literary genre in general.

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The Japanese Tradition of Tea: a demonstration/lecture on the 400 year old ritual art of chanoyu
11:00 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2001
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Dale Slusser

Dale Slusser, who has an M.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures, is one of the few Americans certified as a Japanese tea master. He spoke on "The Japanese Tradition of Tea: a demonstration/lecture on the 400 year old ritual art of chanoyu."

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The Making of the Samurai: From Wild Warriors to the Way of the Warrior
11:00 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2001
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Elizabeth Oyler

Dr. Elizabeth Oyler, Assistant Professor of Japanese Language and Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, spoke on "The Making of the Samurai: From Wild Warriors to the Way of the Warrior." This talk traces some central elements of the samurai image from legendary pre-history through medieval and modern interpretations of what it means to be a warrior in the Japanese context.

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The Japanese Healthcare Experience
9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, 2001
Mills H. Anderson Auditorium
Admission: free

The Nursing Honor Society of Missouri Southern presented "The Japanese Healthcare Experience" in the Criminal Justice Center. Presenting were Dr. Suzy Fletcher and Ms. Deb Barnhart, faculty from Indiana State University. They compared the most common traditional Eastern healthcare practices to Western ones, including nutrition and acupuncture; discussed current Japanese healthcare concerns and issues, including aging populations and long-term care; and develop and sustain a caring/healing environment for self-using Traditional Oriental Medicine rituals and practices, including Tai Chi and massage. A $15.00 fee was required to receive continuing education credit.

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Living Tradition of Japan Today Through Theatre Forms and Martial Arts
9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2001
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Andrew T. Tsubaki

Dr. Andrew T. Tsubaki, Professor Emeritus of theatre and film at the University of Kansas, presented the "Living Tradition of Japan Today Through Theatre Forms and Martial Arts." Dr. Tsubaki doned traditional Japanese kimono and hakama to demonstrate movements and dances of the Japanese traditional theatre, Noh, Kyogen and Kabuki. He also included some martial arts movements known as Aikido — particularly Iaido, a sword-drawing ritual.

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International Crossroads
November, 2001

Students from Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan, wrote stories on Kyoto, Japanese traditions, religion, art, and business for the 64 page International Crossroads. The magazine was distributed on both the Missouri Southern and Ryukoku campuses.

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