Session Abstract: This panel considers the possibilities and challenges of empathy, community and connection within the study of Japanese literature and film. Textual critique, particularly from feminist and decolonising perspectives, frequently celebrates motifs of difference and disruption that subvert patriarchal and hegemonic norms. However, in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe alongside waves of visceral protests against systemic racism, we are also more impelled than ever to speak across borders, reanimate our shared sense of humanity, and find solidarity amid isolation and alienation. First, Victoria Young traces Tōma Hiroko’s poetic uses of language, colour and intertextuality
that offer relatable yet distinctive glimpses of daily life in Okinawa. Second, Hitomi Yoshio discusses Kawakami Mieko’s feminist vision of an alternative women’s community through her roles as writer, translator, and editor. Third, Juliana Buriticá Alzate analyses how Kirino Natsuo and Murata Sayaka’s writing inscribes female community building with empowerment and pain within texts, and between text and reader. Fourth, Jennifer Coates examines the limits of empathy when experienced by filmgoers and the ethnographic scholar who reads both film and viewer as text. Discussant Brett de Bary’s insightful work on literary and translation studies offers one possible means for connecting our questions and reaching out to other texts, readings and voices beyond. Ultimately, our goal is not simply to propose empathy as a topic for textual analysis but rather, in an increasingly fragmented world, to consider how empathy guides us as scholars on Japan working in fields of translation, literature, ethnography and critical pedagogy.
Paper Presenter: Victoria Young – University of Cambridge
Paper Presenter: Juliana Buriticá Alzate – International Christian University
Paper Presenter: Jennifer Coates – University of Sheffield
Paper Presenter: Hitomi Yoshio – Waseda University