Nara JALT:

Considering Themes in Advanced Extensive Reading: The Imperial Sun Never Sets: Young Adult Literature Set in Japan

Date: Sunday, April 27th, 2008 Time: 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Speaker: Jesse Crisler

Description:
Jesse Crisler specializes in American Realism, focusing his research and publications on empirical, bibliographical, biographical, and textual criticism of the authors and texts of this period, with particular interest in literary naturalism. Now in his fourteenth year at BYU, Professor Crisler teaches courses in American literature, adolescent literature, and literary criticism; he also taught composition and British literature at BYU-Hawaii for eleven years, including five as chair.

Due to the wide acceptance of Extensive Reading as an invaluable approach to foreign language education, English teachers in a variety of contexts are being called upon to provide guidance on literary themes and genres appropriate for students. Graded readers are an obvious choice for students with Beginner to Intermediate level reading comprehension, but students with Advanced reading levels require a more sophisticated understanding of literary classification systems. This presentation will provide a rare and provocative look at literary categories, old and new.

Eighteenth-century literati in Europe delighted in systematizing anything and everything, including literary genres, developing a system for the latter that seemed to work fairly well, with minor adjustments. In time, however, new forms of writing began to appear, and classifying them into established genres grew increasingly difficult. A case in point is Young Adult literature, the very name of which is problematic: is it literature by young adults or for them? Since its beginnings, YA literature generally has posed difficulties in classifying it, whether in terms of form, audience, content, etc., and the situation for the specific YA works written by Westerners but set in Japan is the same. A survey of several such books, beginning in the mid-nineteenth-century, reveals the complexity of the classification dilemma: if books feature teenage protagonists, are they, then, YA books; must writers have been to Japan to write books set there; what of books never intended for a teenage audience but are now read only by that audience; what should be done with books of "mixed genre"; how about books in which the protagonists are only temporarily in Japan; are novels marked by elements of "magical realism," fantasy, folk tale, superstition, or science fiction really YA books; finally, how should novels that are clearly postmodern be handled? As a locale still exotic to Western writers and readers, Japan continues to attract both, though not in huge numbers; changes in what literature is or should be will also continue to mark the kind of fare these writers produce and these readers consume.

Organization: Nara Chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (Nara JALT)

Cost: free

Venue: Tezukayama University Gakuenmae Campus (JALT2004 Conference Site) Facing South Exit of Gakuenmae Station on the Kintetsu Nara Line

Location: Nara City, Nara Prefecture, Japan

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