Interview with a Japanese Feminist

It’s in a Japanese language podcast, I’m afraid, but I’ll quote Sayaka Chatani’s description

It caught my eyes because it had an interview with Ueno Chizuko (and many other scholars I like). I listened to her speaking, and she is exactly what I was looking for. A chilled-out intellectual. She is funny, passionate, quite feminine, of course smart, and sounds very approachable. The show was almost entirely about her latest book on the single elderly life, but towards the end, she also summarizes what women’s studies (or feminism) is about in a few words: it means that no one but you decides who you are.

Right after this, yes IMMEDIATELY after this, the interviewer asked her the last question: “what is the best thing about Japanese women (“nihon josei”) and what is not good about us?” I hit my head against the desk. Did you not hear she just said we decide who we are —?! Perhaps you prepared that question before the interview, and could not process the context on the spot. In response, Professor Ueno just casually goes, “there is no such thing as nihon josei. Everyone’s different, dear.”

Japanese Womens History: Spring 2012

A quick tour of the website:

  • The main course page is here, or you can find it above in the header. This is mostly a schedule of readings and assignments, to which I will add links for resources, full assignment handouts and other material as necessary.
  • You can find the full syllabus, with course policies, etc., here, or through the “Past Syllabi” page in the header or from the link on the main course page.  The Grad Student Addendum may be found here, and through the other routes as well.
  • As the header says, there’s a page of Japanese historical resources, including links to some of my powerpoint slide sets and picture collections, teaching resources, etc. The most important link on that page at the moment is the Student Information Form, which you are required to copy, fill out, and email back to me before Thursday.
  • Your other homework for Thursday is to find 5 interest sites on the web relating to Japanese women in history. “Interesting” does not necessarily mean good, but it should mean interesting. Avoid wikipedia and other obvious reference sources. Email me what you find, with comments on each one, before 9am Thursday, so I have time to put together a page for everyone to see.

Japanese Women’s History: Book List

Here is the list of books for purchase for Hist 532 (700-07) for Spring 2012

  • Murasaki Shikibu, Diary of Lady Murasaki, trans. Richard Bowring, Penguin, 1999.
  • Karen Brazell, ed. and trans., The Confessions of Lady Nijo, Stanford UP, 1973.
  • Yamakawa Kikue, Kate Wildman Nakai (Translator), Women of the Mito Domain: Recollections of Samurai Family Life, 1997, Stanford UP
  • Robert John Smith, Ella L. Wiswell, Women of Suye Mura, 1982, Chicago UP.
  • Mikiso Hane, ed. and trans., Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan. University of California Press, 1993.
  • Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow and Atsuko Kameda, eds., Japanese Women: New Feminist Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future, The Feminist Press at CUNY, 1994. ISBN-13: 978-1558610941
  • Kaori Okano, Young Women in Japan: Transitions to Adulthood, Routledge, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-0415590518

This is more or less the order we’ll be reading them, so if you have to prioritize, start at the top! Feel free to buy these from the bookstore, which has them on order, or from any other source.  We will be reading all of them.