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Modern Japanese Women Writers as Artists as Cultural Critics
by Michiko Wilson

This collection of twelve critical essays by three leading Japanese fiction writers—

Yuriko Miyamoto (1899–1951), Minako Ôba (1930–2007), and Kazuko Saegusa (1929–2003)—includes some of the most thought-provoking commentary on Japanese culture and society. Articulate, incisive, passionate, and compelling, these essays represent a Japan that is far from the image of a conformist and homogeneous society, the stereotypical view that is so widespread in the West. The critical essays of these three remarkable Japanese writers, moreover, offer us invaluable insights to Japan’s conflicted social and gender history in light of the country’s complex psychological relationship with the West, especially the United States.

“The first translations of ground-breaking essays by three postwar Japanese women writers who expanded the field of literature to embrace criticism of Japanese society and culture.  A deeply researched introduction provides an historical context for these trenchant essays, which challenge established views on the woman question and argue for the creation for the equality and partnership of the genders as the basis for the creation of a better society.  An indispensable guide to rethinking the relation of the genders in Japan, and in the world.” 
 - Janet A. Walker, Rutgers University

An Account of Ancient Matters: the Kojiki by Ô no Yasumaro 
by Gus Heldt (coming 2014)

The Kojiki (712) is Japan’s oldest surviving written work, and one of the richest repositories of mythological lore in East Asia. Its account of the sovereigns of Yamato and their ancestral spirits is told in a dramatic and vivid manner reminiscent of the Hebrew Bible, Greek myth, or the Mayan Popul Vuh. Woven through its genealogical chronology are numerous stories filled with compelling characters, including tragic warrior-heroes, clever tricksters, and jealous queens, as well as explanations for the origins of natural and social phenomena, and examples of the earliest surviving verse in the Japanese language.

Often regarded over the course of the last three centuries as a sacred scripture embodying a pure racial and political ideology legitimating nationalism and imperialism, its myths have continued to pervade Japanese postwar culture, where they have provided a source of inspiration for the names of characters and plot elements in popular Japanese media that have become in turn an intrinsic part of contemporary global culture. Although it has often been viewed as a simple or primitive work, the Kojiki was the sophisticated product of a highly literate society. In order to convey its literary appeal, cultural significance, and carefully crafting to a general readership, this rendering has sought to translate the names of the spirits, people, and places that populate what is a truly foundational work of Japanese culture. 

Miao-Fen Tseng presented a paper entitled “A Study of Chinese Language Teachers' Perceptions of Tasks and TBLT” at the CLTA annual conference in conjunction with ACTFL on November 22nd, 2013 in Orlando, FL. In addition, her two papers entitled “The Efficacy of a STARTALK Teacher Residential Program” and “A Study of WebQuests as Curricular Modules in Advanced Chinese” have been published in Taiwan Journal of Chinese as a Second Language and The Journal of Chinese Language Teaching & Learning respectively this year.