De Souza Seminar  

Nikkei Diaspora Literature

Nikkei Diaspora Literature: Short Stories

This course, Nikkei Diaspora Literature: Short Stories, will introduce students to literary works by Nikkei authors from English-speaking countries. They will learn how to analyse literature and prepare for advanced study in their junior and senior years. The course will focus on a range of primary source materials in English. 

The selected authors, who serve as a representative sample of Nikkei diaspora literature, will be studied by the students. (in order):

Kazuo Ishiguro “The Summer After the War” (United Kingdom) - diaspora

Hisaye Yamamoto ”A Day in Little Tokyo” (United States) - race

Jeff Chiba Stearns and Lillian Michiko Blakey ”On Being Yukiko” (Canada) - identity

Masako Fukui “When Blossoms Fall” (Australia) - belonging

The short stories will be studied using literary criticism to understand the unique experiences and perspectives of people of Japanese descent living outside of Japan. By starting with these short stories, students will develop the necessary skills for later studying longer and more complex novels by Nikkei authors.

Nikkei Diaspora Literature: Novels

Spring semester: United Kingdom, United States

This course focuses on Nikkei diaspora literature from the UK and US. Students will learn how to analyse literature using literary criticism and gain knowledge to understand it better. We will study novels by Nikkei authors and examine them through paradigms of diaspora, race, identity, or belonging. Our first novel will be "Klara and the Sun" by Kazuo Ishiguro, which we will analyse through the lens of diaspora. In week 2, students will go on a field trip to Kobe to deepen their understanding of Nikkei diaspora and the city's multicultural history.

The novel "No-No Boy" by John Okada explores the Japanese American experience during and after World War II. The main character, Ichiro Yamada, was incarcerated during the war and refused to answer a loyalty questionnaire, making him a "No-No Boy". The novel delves into complex issues of race, identity, and citizenship in American history, and challenges traditional notions of American identity.

The novels we will study are (in order):

1. Kazuo Ishiguro Klara and the Sun (United Kingdom) - diaspora

2. John Okada No-No Boy (United States) - race

Autumn semester: Canada, (Student Choice)

This course focuses on works by Nikkei authors from Canada and other countries of the student's choice. Students will learn how to analyse literature using literary criticism, developing their understanding of Nikkei diaspora literature. They will study a representative sample of Nikkei diaspora literature from Canada and other countries. Each novel will be studied from one of four paradigms: diaspora, race, identity, or belonging. The course will explore how characters in Goto's "Chorus of Mushrooms" struggle to find belonging and a sense of identity in a society that often views them as outsiders. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of identity and belonging through close reading and analysis of the text.

The novels we will study are (in order):

1. Hiromi Goto Chorus of Mushrooms (Canada) - identity & belonging

2. The student has the freedom to choose any novel from an English-speaking country, but the professor must approve the selection. 

Nikkei Diaspora Literature: Thesis

This course helps students write and submit their graduation thesis. Students will attend monthly meetings with their classmates and have one-on-one appointments with their professor. The course starts by discussing the Nikkei diaspora literature and the importance of choosing a specific focus for the thesis. Students will learn about the structure and requirements for the thesis and start brainstorming ideas. The meetings will cover research strategies, writing, citation format, and receiving feedback on their progress. In November, students will finalize their thesis and in December, they will prepare for the oral defence. To make the most out of their appointment with the professor, students should submit their work at least one week before and come prepared with questions or areas of concern. They can cancel their appointment if they can't attend. Appointments can be made from the Contact page.