Friday, March 09, 2007

A Few Crazy Ideas

My weekend posting is going to have to be shorter and crappier than usual in the foreseeable future, as I switch back to a regular work schedule on weekdays starting next Monday, which means both onechan and imoto will be needing more attention when I'm back home.

Have I mentioned here that in the last two months, imoto has started standing/cruising/walking (at least when you hold her hands or when she makes her way to a stroller and starts using it as a walker!), clapping, waving goodbye, babbling (from "emma" to "mama" and this kind of "dadadadadadadada" thing that may well be addressed to me, not to mention "upffffff" and screeches of delight, frustration, or outrage of all kinds--quite a step up from crying to be held when I come home from work, which was the first big development in her relationship with me), teethed her way to her (at last count) first 4 teeth coming in (two bottom middle ones first, then the corresponding two top one)? Or that onechan has been moving her ratio of "I'm a big girl"/"I'm a baybeeeeeee" closer to 4-1 over the same time period? (Could it be that the Uh Oh Diva Girl is figuring out that imitating her younger sister is not a winning strategy for a three-year-old? Could it be that going to the Baptist yochien and seeing how all the older kids act is good for her? Signs point to "yes.") She's also gotten really into drawing and is doing a lot of cool arts things in her yochien, plus making some new close frends. My point here is that we're right in the middle of our favorite baby phase (from rolling over to walking and talking) for imoto and witnessing a major transformation in onechan's life (the end of the terrible twos, which we thought happened last spring, but never underestimate the intelligence of a two-year-old--she was perfectly capable of figuring out what worked for the atarashii akachan and using it for herself [but for a year?!!!--yup]) in the CitizenSE household, and I want to be there for as much of it as I can.

So, a list today. Projects I'm considering for the post-Fulbright future:

1) EDITING: Reading Hawthorne in Showa Japan has a nice ring to it, eh? Here's the plan: I contact the NH societies of the U.S. and Japan before leaving Fukuoka with a proposal to edit a collection of essays that translates/collects representative work from the most influential Hawthornists of Japan during this period (asking the NH Society of Japan to do the selecting and share the bill for translating with the NH Society of the U.S.) and publishes short responses from the most influential Hawthornists of the U.S. (as selected by the NH Society of the U.S.). My contribution would be coordination and an introductory essay that compares/contrasts the developments of Hawthorne Studies in the two nations during this time period.

2) CONFERENCE: I want to organize an international conference on the cultural politics of U.S. literatures and literary criticism in Japan. Obviously, one of the big turns in U.S. literary studies of the past couple of generations has been toward historicizing the reception and cultural work of "classic American literature" and of tracking the politics of literary reputation and the formation of what's taken to be the "traditional" American literary canon. This has extended in the U.S. into studies that do the same kinds of analyses, not of American literature, but of Americanist literary criticism. To give a few examples of famous people doing both kinds of work, think Tompkins on gender, Lauter on Melville and modernism, Pease on the Cold War, Kaplan on U.S. imperialism...the list goes on and on. So what I envision is finding out who's doing that same kind of work in Japan and around the world by organizing an international conference on the subject. By casting my net wide--inviting work from the late Tokugawa period to the present, rather than focusing on a specific period--I get to highlight the best new work in and on Japan in the U.S. Obviously this would be of interest to postcolonial studies, as well, given Said, Spivak, Bhabha in general and specifically Gauri Viswanathan's trailblazing work on English Studies in India, Annika Hohenthal's work on English in India, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan's "Learning from Said" (in Politics and Culture 1 [2004]), and so on.

3) RESEARCH: I need to get my language abilities in Japanese to the point where I can read literary criticism in Japanese passably well to do this, but I want to eventually be able to contribute my own little pieces to the larger work that the conference would feature. Given my primary specialty, I would most likely focus on the cultural work of studies of antebellum U.S. literatures, but I would have to be flexible and see what the most revealing literary criticism turns out to be. What I'm particularly interested in is the range of responses by Japanese Americanists to the U.S. occupation of Japan and how the politics of American Studies in Japan relates to--and what it may reveal about--larger debates in Japanese society over American culture over the course of the Showa period.

So there you have it. I'm going back to a 4/3 teaching load in August, doing my best to avoid immersing myself in service as I consciously chose to do when I first got the job (on which more later), and still have three major and several minor projects to complete without a leave in the foreseeable future (having decided to use mine with the Fulbright, rather than save it for my return), but hey, a guy can dream, right? Or rather, a guy can get back to work for the next 5 months and see how close he can come to wrapping up the ongoing projects....

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