Julian Saporiti encourages UMF students and faculty to reflect on stories of Japanese Internment during WWII

Julian

Julian Saporiti tuning his guitar after a performance of a song about Vietnam

Recently, UMF welcomed musician and phD student Julian Saporiti, who presented a multi-media presentation entitled “No-No Boy” on the history of Japanese internment camps across the United States during World War II, inspired by his doctoral research at Brown University. “No-No Boy” is a term used to define Japanese Americans who refused to pledge loyalty to the United States after World War II and refused to sign up for the draft.

The internment of Japanese Americans came after Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Over 100,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes (especially in California and along the west coast) and relocated to internment camps across the west and midwestern United States.

“After Pearl Harbor, anti-Asian sentiment really began to grow,” Saporiti stated during a presentation to a UMF English class before his Emery Arts performance. “There was a lot of racial fear and economic competition.”

Saporiti’s work mainly focuses on the individual stories of Japanese Americans who lived in these internment camps. He has overall talked to 60 people and fully interviewed 30. For Saporiti, it is more important to get the details of these stories right and let them send a message on their own, rather than trying to push a political agenda.

“I don’t have much of a political message except ‘know your history,'” said Saporiti. “I go for these individual stories because for me, those have a bigger impact. It’s a lot easier to feel sympathy when you can actually put a face behind a label or a movement.”

To tell these stories, Saporiti employs another principle element of his work: music. Stating that he studies history through music, Saporiti has written several songs that describe the life and atmosphere of an internment camp, while also telling the stories of individual people he’s met there.

One of his most notable stories comes from a dear friend referred to only as “Joy,” a now 90-year-old woman who was sent from Los Angeles to the internment camp “Heart Mountain Relocation Center,” in Heart Mountain, Wyoming at age 15. When telling Joy’s story, Saporiti discussed an instrumental part of her time: her involvement in the George Igawa band, a jazz band made entirely of Japanese Americans who wanted to continue to pursue their passion and take their minds off of their situation.

“They were allowed to pursue this dream because jazz music was considered incredibly American,” Saporiti explained. This story led to a song about Joy and the George Igawa band called “The Best God Damn Band,” one of several pieces he performed during his presentation.

Saporiti also has a personal connection to these stories and this research as a result of being Vietnamese American and growing up in Nashville, Tennessee. Some of his works reflected his thoughts of Vietnam and immigration

The audience was engaged and thoroughly interested in what Saporiti had to say on many topics, including how the treatment of Japanese Americans is reflected in today’s modern racial and political climate, with the new target of fear and hate being the Muslim community.

“When I tell the people I interview that I do talks like this at colleges and perform these songs and tell their stories, I always ask them if they have a personal message they’d like me to tell you guys,” Saporiti said. “And they all say pretty much the same thing: don’t let this happen again.”

To find out more about Saporiti’s work, listen to more music, and learn more about Japanese internment, visit his website at nonoboymusic.tumblr.com.

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Spring 2018 Literature Courses

Spring 2018 Literature Courses

ENG 250H SHAKESPEARE   MWF 2:25-3:30 (DANIEL GUNN)
This course is an introduction to Shakespearean drama, which is both enormously influential in Western culture and somehow central to our notions of what literature is and can do.  We will study seven plays, concentrating on their deployment of various poetic languages, their construction as literary artifacts, and the theatrical and performance issues they raise.  The tentative reading list for spring includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.   In the context of this particular group of texts, we will be taking up questions related to colonialism, constructions of race and gender, political ideology, textual editing, Renaissance theatrical performance, and the genre of the late plays.    Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

ENG 252H BRITISH TEXTS AND CONTEXTS II   MW 3:40-5:20 (CHRISTINE DARROHN)
Studying nineteenth- and twentieth- century British literature, we will explore three important literary periods: the Romantic, Victorian, and twentieth-century.  We will learn about the events and contested issues of the culture as we examine the diverse ways writers (such as William Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Wilfred Owen, and Virginia Woolf) responded and contributed to these in the content and form of their writing.  The events are tremendous: an economic revolution that remakes the landscape physically and socially, a political revolution that raises hopes and then dashes them, scientific discoveries that trouble traditional beliefs, a cataclysmic war, and profound changes in the legal status of women, to name just a few.  Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

ENG 277H 0001 SMALL PRESS, ALTERNATIVE, AND INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING
T 1:50-5:10  (EIREANN LORSUNG)

This course offers a mix of theoretical and material work. We will read small, alternative, and independent publishers’ books (and other artifacts) to think about what it means to be a (micro-) publisher as well as to think about what kinds of writing have entered the literary scene via these publishers over the past decade or so. We will encounter and grapple with the question “What is a book?” and use books we read (and those we make) to address it at the axis of form and content. In addition to reading literary work, we will read scholarly writing on small press publishing as we work to articulate our own editorial/publishing/artistic philosophies. Part of our time will be spent in bookmaking practica, in which students will learn to bind physical books. Students in this course can expect to read a book a week for much of the semester, write three papers, and work independently or in a team on a final editorial/publishing project.  Prerequisite: ENG 100 and sophomore standing.

 

ENG 277H  0002 THE AMERICAN MOVIE THRILLER   T 1:50-5:10  (BILL MESCE)
Since the coming of sound to movies, the American movie thriller in all its forms — crime stories, war movies, Westerns, sci fi and horror, etc. — has offered a reflection of the American character, the movies changing as American society changed. The thriller may have offered an exaggerated, sometimes even distorted view, but one always somehow connected to the audience it served. This course will examine a number of key movie thrillers, and the social context which produced them and which they reflected.

ENG 277H 0003 WRITING REVIEWS AND CRITICISM FOR SOCIAL MEDIA   
MWF 1:10-2:15   (MICHAEL JOHNSON)

Primary readings in literary and cultural studies theory will provide conceptual frameworks for offering critical commentary on contemporary culture (literature, film, television, music, etc.). That commentary will take the form of blog posts, reviews, recaps, tweets, podcasts, etc. Also included in our primary readings will be contemporary blogs and websites that offer reviews and cultural criticism.  Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

ENG 295H THE FEMALE BODY IN WESTERN CULTURE      TR 12:00-1:40      (ANN KENNEDY)
In this course we examine historical and contemporary constructions of the female body in Western culture: in medicine and science, in law, in popular culture, in literature, and in sports culture. Our goals are to become more astute cultural critics, to better understand the political, personal, intellectual, and social ramifications of dominant constructions of the female body, and to analyze challenges to these constructions—in theory, research, literature, the arts, and in everyday embodied practices. Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

ENG 300 CRITICAL CONCEPTS  MW 3:40-5:20  (MISTY KRUEGER)
Students will investigate foundational schools of literary theory, learn about the field of English as an academic discipline, and think about how being an English major prepares them for life and career after their degrees are completed. As a result, students will become aware of different critical approaches to literature and will begin to define their individualized interests and aims in the major.  At the end of the course, each student will complete a concentration statement that explains how four or more of the elective courses in the major form a coherent group.  Prerequisite: ENG major, ENG 181, and one 200-level literature course.

ENG 377 0001 NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE AND FILM     M 3:10-6:30   (MICHAEL JOHNSON)
The focus of this course will be Native American literature and film primarily written and produced over the last two decades. We will place that material in the larger context of the history of Native American representation in film and literature. We will be especially attentive to Native American literature that has been adapted to film, but we will also look at films with original scripts, at experimental films, and documentaries.  Prerequisite: 200-level ENG literature class or JR/SR standing.

ENG 377 0002 WORLDS OF THE VICTORIAN NOVEL  TR 1:50-3:30  (CHRISTINE DARROHN)
How do British Victorian novels evoke complex worlds and welcome readers into them?  During a period of extraordinary transformation, how did the diverse kinds of novels that were popular in the Victorian age enable writers and readers to understand themselves, their relation to others, and their place in the world?  What can we today–as we face the challenges within our own local and global communities–learn from these novels?  We will explore the multifaceted worlds–physical, social, and psychological–created in a variety of Victorian novels, such as the sensation novel, the multiplot novel, and the adventure novel, including novels by some of the following: Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, H. Rider Haggard, and Bram Stoker. Prerequisite: 200-level ENG literature class

ENG 477 SEMINAR: AUSTEN, ELIOT, JAMES   TR 9:50-11:30   (DANIEL GUNN)  
An advanced seminar, focused on three novels: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen; Middlemarch, by George Eliot; and The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James.  The works of these three writers constitute a central tradition in the history of the English novel, and they share many formal and thematic features, including moral scrupulousness, precise evocations of social circumstance, carefully modulated irony, narrative subtlety and complexity, and an interest in representing consciousness.  We will read and discuss the novels in detail and consider them in relation to one another and in the context of recent scholarship.  Students will spend the last six weeks of the semester working on substantial seminar papers, which they will present to the class.  Prerequisite: 300-level ENG literature class other than ENG 300.

ENG 491 CAPSTONE SEMINAR IN ENGLISH W 3:10-6:30  (KRISTEN CASE)

An advanced seminar, focusing on a capstone independent research project, for senior English majors who have already taken one 400-level seminar.  Students will draw on the knowledge they have developed during their coursework in the major to create a project that synthesizes and extends that knowledge and engages in a wider scholarly or professional conversation. Research topics may be influenced by the instructor’s areas of expertise. Students will present their capstone projects publicly and will write reflections on the research process.  Prerequisite: senior ENG major and 400-level ENG literature course.