School of Languages and CulturesAssociation for Japanese Literary StudiesCollege of Liberal Arts

Newsletter 13

Tenth Annual Meeting


Tufts University, Medford, MA

November 9-11, 2001

Call for Papers


This year’s annual meeting of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies will be held at Tufts University, Medford, MA, November 9 – 11, 2001 (Co-Chairs: Professors Charles Shiro Inouye and Hosea Hirata). To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the AJLS in 2001, we propose to expand the boundaries of the annual conference by shifting our focus from issues related exclusively to Japanese writers and their works to the theme of Japan as viewed from the vantage point of somewhere outside Japan. Hence our theme: Japan from Somewhere Else. We hope that this theme will accommodate writers and issues that have not yet come under the purview of the association.

We are especially interested in incorporating writers of Japanese descent (in North America, England, and elsewhere) who write in English. Many of these writers deal directly with issues of Japanese cultural heritage. Others, while appearing to have little to do with Japan or Japanese literature, touch on issues of identity and place—on the state of being “somewhere else” other than Japan. The works of Kazuo Ishiguro, the English writer of Japanese descent, for example, do both.

Another group of writers we would like to think about in this context is Japanese nationals who move outside of Japan to write “Japanese literature.” The questions we may ask include: What is the significance of being somewhere else? What is America (or Japan) for Japanese writers who travel here to write? And the reverse, what is Japan for Japanese American / Canadian / English writers? Is there any discernable relation between the two? A meeting of Japanese writers and English-speaking writers of Japanese descent has never been staged. Ours will be the first. We are in the process of inviting important writers from both sides, including Haruki Murakami (confirmed), Yoko Tawada (confirmed), (confirmed), Philip Gotanda (confirmed), and Kazuo Ishiguro (under negotiation). We also extend invitations to prominent scholars in the field of Asian American Studies.

The conference should also touch on pedagogical issues related to the topic of “Japan from somewhere else.” Many of us teach Japanese language and literature far from the “center” of Japanese literature, that is, Japan, or for that matter, the Japanese language. Kobayashi Hideo characterized modern Japanese literature as “Literature of the Lost Home” because it began by denying its tradition. We may ask: does the field of Japanese literature in America have a tradition, a home? With only 50 years of history, we are still in the process of inventing ourselves, too. What anxieties do we hold when we, non-Japanese, face the “home” of what we teach, i.e., Japan? For those of us who immigrated from Japan, what sort of relationship do we hold with Japan as we teach about Japan to American students?

By thinking about our state of being “somewhere else,” we hope to discern our subject, Japan and its literature, in a new light.

Proposal Deadline: May 1, 2001

  • Panel proposals are encouraged but individual ones will be also considered.
  • Only the members of the AJLS are eligible.
  • Papers selected for the conference will be published in our “Proceedings.”

Send your proposals to:

Hosea Hirata
Department of German, Russian, Asian Languages and Literatures
Tufts University, Olin Center
Medford, MA 02155

Tel: 617-627-2671
Fax: 617-627-3945

2000 Meeting Report

The Ninth Annual AJLS Meeting, "Acts of Writing: Language and Identities in Japanese Literature," was successfully held November 10-12, 2000, at Washington University in St. Louis. A total of 24 papers were presented, together with 2 keynote addresses by Professors Zdenka Svarcova and Yoshihiro Ohsawa). Topics of writing and literary identities were discussed in a diverse and extensive manner. This year again, we had a wonderfully insightful meeting. A meticulous organization of the meeting, together with a generous support for the participants, by the Conference Co-Chair, Professors Rebecca Copeland, Marvin Marcus, and Elizabeth Oyler, and their staff members from Washington University was truly appreciated by all participants and audience members.

AJLS Activities

Annual Meeting

An annual meeting is organized by an elected Conference Chair(s) and held at the Chair(s)’s institution. A call for papers is announced in the spring issue of the AJLS Newsletter. A program of the meeting is published in the fall issue of the Newsletter.

PAJLS Publication

All papers presented during the annual meeting can be included in an officially registered serial titled PAJLS (Proceedings of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies).


The annual fee is $25.00 for regular, student, and institution members ($35.00 for overseas members outside North America). Membership for 2001-2002 provides you with:

  • Panel participation for the 2001 meeting to be held at Tufts University (if your proposal is selected).
  • Two newsletters
  • One copy of the proceedings of the year 2000 Meeting to be published in Fall, 2001.
  • One free copy of a back or additional current issue of the proceedings if you are a student member.

Our publication activities almost totally depend on your membership support. If you have not yet joined us, please do so this time. Inquiries and orders (with checks payable to AJLS) should be sent to: AJLS, Purdue University, 1359 Stanley Coulter Hall, W. Lafayette, IN 47907-1359, USA.

UCLA for 2002

Professor Michele Marra will chair the AJLS meeting for 2002 at UCLA. If you are interested in hosting future AJLS meeting, please contact Professor Ann Sherif at:; EAS, Peters Hall 314, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074-1091; 440-775-8827 (Tel)

Japanese Literature Mailing List

For subscription, send a message, “subscribe jlit-l” to: After being confirmed, you can send your messages to:

New Proceedings

A 1999 conference proceedings, “Issues of Canonicity and Canon Formation in Japanese Literary Studies," PAJLS, vol.1, is scheduled to be published in March 2001. When published, its table of contents and related information will be announced on the jlit-l mailing list as well as on our web site:

Back Issues

Back issues of the proceedings are available. Each copy is $10.00 for AJLS members and $15.00 for non-members. Orders should be sent to the AJLS office. (Add $10 for mailing if you order from outside the North American area.)

Poetics of Japanese Literature: vi + 207pp, 1993. Includes keynote addresses by Kawamoto Koji and Watanabe Kenji, and nine more essays.

The Desire for Monogatari: vi + 133 pp, 1994. Includes a keynote address by Mizuta Noriko and thirteen other essays. [Out of stock]

Japanese Theatricality and Performance, PMAJLS, vol. 1: v + 218 pp, 1995. Includes a keynote address by Donald Richie and eleven other essays.

Revisionism in Japanese Literary Studies, PMAJLS, vol. 2: vi + 336pp, 1996. Includes a keynote address by Earl Miner, major address by Takahashi Toru and ten other essays, plus commentaries by panel discussants.

Ga/Zoku Dynamics in Japanese Literature, PMAJLS, vol. 3: vii + 458pp, 1997. Includes a keynote address by Ueno Chizuko, and twenty-three other essays. [Out of stock]

The New Historicism and Japanese Literary Studies, PMAJLS, vol. 4: xxiii + 432 pp, 1998. Includes keynote addresses by Karatani Kojin and Komori Yoichi, and twenty-four more essays, together with a comprehensive introduction by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen.

Love and Sexuality in Japanese Literature, PMAJLS, vol.5: vi + 352 pp, 1999. Includes keynote addresses by Saeki Junko and Inaga Shigemi and twenty-seven essays.

AJLS Newsletter Sponsor: SLC, Purdue University

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Japan from Somewhere Else





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Please attach a 250-words proposal to this form and send to: Hosea Hirata, Department of German, Russian, Asian Languages and Literatures, Tufts University, Olin Center, Medford, MA 02155.

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