Monday, May 5, 2014

weekend fun: natsume soseki 夏目漱石 conference

A few weeks ago a friend and I made a split decision to attend a conference on Natsume Soseki - we both wanted to go really badly but for some reason the bus/train tickets for that particular weekend were so expensive! There was no way I was paying $80 for a bus ride that was only 4 hours. However, my boyfriend saw how disappointed I was that I couldn't go so he offered to pick my friend and I up and drive us back with him to the conference (which was luckily being held where he is studying). So thankful for such a sweet boyfriend! Entirely because of that single act of sweetness, my friend and I could attend the conference.

Alan Tansman of UC Berkley in the corner!

The conference itself was only over a single weekend but they managed to pack in so many panels during that time. It was a great learning experience because a lot of the big names in Japan studies were present, but also because there were a few panels that included graduate students. It was interesting to see how they structured their talks and to see what they are researching. The key themes over this weekend was a huge focus on 「心」(Kokoro) - which I wasn't too surprised about - but also on his more journalistic writing, especially 「満韓ところどころ」(Mankan tokorodokoro). I wasn't expecting there to be as much of a focus on the second piece but I believe that much of Japanese literature studies (focusing around the time of Soseki and through WWII) have to acknowledge Manchuria/Manchyuko, so a lot of scholarship is being done on that.

Another highlight of the conference was having Yoko Tawada (多和田葉子) as one of the keynote speakers - her talk was titled漱石ってどんな石?自分ではないものになる方法」and it was an amazing talk. She is such a talented speaker and although I think some of her fiction writing is a little too surreal for me, I love her poetry. So glad I was able to hear her speak! Another speaker-highlight was of course seeing one of my very own professors present a paper and I continue to be amazed at how amazingly intelligent some people are in this world.

Otherwise, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with my friend and we had a few great heart-to-hearts :) I'm so glad I could attend the conference, even though I wasn't able to spend much time with my boyfriend since he was busy finishing up his work for graduation (which happened a few days ago!) and I was at the conference. 


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