1) Kendall Heitzman, University of Iowa
We’ll See It All: Japanese Writers Abroad in the 1950s
Over the course of the 1950s, a number of prominent Japanese writers made their way to the United States on Fulbright and Rockefeller Foundation grants. In many ways, the various Americas they found were a function of what they went looking for: a sexually liberated Greenwich Village, a bucolic rural Ohio campus, a Southern city seething with racial tensions. At the same time, their stays in the United States inevitably took place at the intersection of a host of social cross-currents that had as much to do with the Japan they left behind them: interpersonal rivalries, postwar tensions, and a growing awareness of the ways they felt Japanese culture lagged—and led—the rest of the world in the years before its so-called reemergence on the global scene. Among the key travel writings of the period, we will look at Shōno Junzō’s Ganbia taizaiki (A Record of My Stay in Gambier, 1959), Oda Makoto’s Nandemo mite yarō (I’ll See It All, 1961), and Yasuoka Shōtarō’s Amerika kanjō ryokō (A Sentimental Journey to the United States, 1962).