WELCOME TO LIBERLIT 6
The 6th Annual Liberlit Conference for Discussion and Defense of
The Role of ‘Literary’ Texts in the English Curriculum
Theme for Liberlit 6: Teaching for Transformation
Plenary Speaker for Liberlit 6: IRA NADEL
Texts as Transformative Tools
We believe literature to be an essential element of the English curriculum in Japan, and its vital future presence must be ensured and defended. By ‘literature’, we mean authentic texts that use language in creative and careful ways to tell stories, convey impressions, express original opinions, pose critical questions and demand more than simplistic, pragmatic responses. Those texts could include poetry, novels, plays, movies, songs, TV series, or thoughtful authentic writings on culture, society, or history. Teaching literature always means teaching much more than just language. Liberlit will address attitudes and approaches to ‘literary’ texts in English.
We lament the ongoing ‘dumbing down’ and ‘infantilisation’ of English education in Japan and the consequent marginalization of literature in the curriculum at all levels. Our conviction is that literature offers learners access to the kinds of creative, critical, and non-complacent views of the world that Japanese students sorely need and indeed, in many cases, crave. Literature has the power to engage and motivate second-language learners; its potential for multiple interpretations develops the minds of students who often believe that every question has but one answer, and the authenticity of literary texts respects them as intellectually maturing adults. Eye-opening materials and mind-widening methods should be an integral part of the education process at all levels, but are essential at university level before students go forth to live among the complexities of the ‘real’ world.
Liberlit will explore the idea that it is unkind and disingenuous to deprive students of the marvelously varied, meaningful, and challenging content that only great works of literature and thoughtful authentic writings on culture can offer. We will also investigate and expound techniques, methods, and ways that literary texts can foreground the roots of education, liberate English language into maturely creative uses and instigate a freer, bolder expression of original opinions. With your participation, we hope Liberlit will open up an active and collaborative community of thought, reflection, inquiry and discussion. We hope to make Liberlit an ongoing forum in which we can establish how, where, and why literature should rightly figure in Japan’s English curriculum.
Theme for LIBERLIT 6
Teaching for Transformation
Transformation is an essential part of how education takes place. It facilitates and is testimony to the basic concept of growth in our teaching. For the Sixth Annual Liberlit Conference, we want to focus on the process of transforming: how it occurs most meaningfully, and how to enhance it without forcing it. Transformation is central to the texts we use. Whether poetry, novel, film, or essay, every genuine literary text incorporates a significant notion of change. At the same time, the texts call forth a response from students that includes an internal shift in thinking, feeling, or worldview. Most of the texts we use also contain an element of social transformation–sometimes foregrounded, often subtly displayed–and typically hinge on a movement from passive to active. The language acquired with such texts is different from that of traditional textbooks, where the status quo tends to be fixed and the language has little viability and even less life. A process of transformation is central to the texts, language, activities, and ways of thinking that characterize a dynamic classroom. Without the careful introduction, discussion, and facilitation of changing, adjusting, altering, and transforming, learning will not produce the ‘A-ha!’ moments of epiphany that can change students into better, stronger, and fuller versions of themselves. This year’s Liberlit Conference will focus on all aspects of teaching and learning that contribute to transformation in its many manifestations.
CONFERENCE SCHEDULE (PART 1)
On-site registration. Meet your fellow attendees.
Words of Welcome and Introductory Remarks
(Michael Pronko) (Room C)
PANEL 1 (Room A, chaired by Barnaby Ralph)
On Becoming-Literature (Joff Bradley)
Fostering Creative Expression through Myriad Texts & Activities (Taylor Mignon)
Transindividuation and Empathy: Becoming Other in Hypomnesic Milieus (David Kennedy)
PANEL 2 (Room B, chaired by Atsushi Iida)
Attempt to Teach Literary and Movie Script Textbooks through Cooperative/Collaborative Learning
There and Back Again with Bilbo: a Transformative Experience (Chutatip Yumitani)
Black Mirror, “White Bear”: the Social Transformation of Empathy
in an L2 Literature Writing Class (Richard Pinner)
PLENARY TALK (Room C)
Texts as Transformative Tools
LUNCH: a chance to mingle more and chat.
CONFERENCE SCHEDULE (PART 2)
PANEL 3 (Room A, chaired by Barnaby Ralph) Investigating the Sparkle of the Shining Prince:
Some of the Hows and Whys of Teaching Japanese Classics in English Translation in Japan
Literature in Translation in the EFL Classroom (Kathryn M. Tanaka)
Reading Seventeen Syllables:
Learner Understandings of Hisaye Yamamoto’s Stories (Hugh Nicoll)
PANEL 4 (Room B, chaired by Joff Bradley) Accomplishing Transformation by the Use of Authentic Literary Texts in English-Language Classrooms in Japan (Wendy Jones Nakanishi)
Content-Validity in Testing English Literature in Japanese University Classes
Several Practical Approaches for American Literature in the Language Classroom
(Fuyuhiko Sekido, Aimei Kobayashi, Akiko Yamanaka)
PANEL 5 (Room A, chaired by Hugh Nicoll) Transformation in A Night in November:
Deconstructing Hegemony (Eucharia Donnery)
Thinking Like a Pro: How Discourse Awareness Transforms ESP Learners (Mike Guest)
Transformation and the Shifting of the Foundations of Allegory: Reflections on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. (Barnaby Ralph)
PANEL 6 (Room B, chaired by Richard Pinner)
Poetry Writing for Healing: Implications for the Second Language Classroom (Atsushi Iida)
Poetry, Individual Differences, and Transformation (Jane Joritz-Nakagawa)
Words with Worth!
Enriching EFL Reading With Wordsworth’s Sonnets (Neil Addison & Neil Conway)
PANEL 7 (Room A, chaired by Neil Addison)
Giving Students the Tools to Enhance Transformation (Christine Wilby)
The Awakening and A Separate Peace through Different Lenses
‘Lightning’ Discussion, Any Other Business, Concluding Remarks
(Michael Pronko) (Room C)
CONFERENCE ENDS. PARTY TIME!
Details of post-conference party will be available on conference day.
PANEL 1 (10.10-11.30) Room A
1A. On Becoming-Literature Presenter: Joff Bradley
Abstract: Here, I introduce the ‘image’ of literature developed by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Becoming, incorporeal transformation, health, minor literature, and the virtual are some of the thought-provoking concepts which I shall endeavour to explain. As we shall see, writing is a question of becoming – it is fragmentary, always in the midst of things, and destined for a missing people, a ‘people yet to come’. Therefore, teaching transformation through literature is not a sad or militant pedagogy as such, that is to say, a dogmatic methodology thrust upon pre-formed subjectivities, but rather a curious happening – in-between – part of process of creative, even futural, involution. I shall provide ample examples from literature, film and poetry to explain this. And to demonstrate the overarching, pedagogical and philosophical implications of this perspective, I shall reflect upon the ideas of transformative ‘modes of thought’, ‘ascending forms of existence’, and ‘immanent life’. I grant especial significance to the following quote by Deleuze: “The ultimate aim of literature is to set free, in the delirium, this creation of a health or this invention of a people, that is, a possibility of life” and end by considering Nietzsche’s always most unsettling and Unheimlich provocation: become what you are.
Biographical Data: Joff P.N. Bradley teaches in the faculty of foreign languages at Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan. Although born and bred in northern England, he is a resident of Japan and applies his long-standing interest in schizoanalysis, European philosophy and critical thought to the social and political problems affecting his students. He has published articles in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
1B. Fostering Creative Expression through Myriad Texts & Activities Presenter: Taylor Mignon
Abstract: Most English writing courses offered at Japanese universities focus on the essay’s structure in a point by point manner, ostensibly for the student to sufficiently reproduce. The instructor and class member are challenged to commence on this daunting task towards the essay without a context, tabula rasa; the skill of academic writing itself is the subject. This product-oriented, results-driven operandi overlooks several integral aspects of the individuals’ potential for developing their innate creativity. The transformation from passive to active participation in creating and performing texts are inspired by western sources as well as classical and Avant-garde Japanese works. Providing an atmosphere conducive for students to perform unfettered expressions entail at least four levels of interaction: activities based on whole classroom participation, then in smaller groups, pair work, then between the individual interacting with a creative stimulus. In some cases, students make the transformation from quiet attendees to active and more nuanced individual, confident writers and speakers. Some show subtleties of thought, sharp insights, and imaginative images. The droll of 1,000 word essay is transcended by a single turn of phrase, transforming a bland writer to a fuller student expressing ideas with individuation, a prerequisite for competent essay-writer.
Biographical Data: Taylor Mignon is co-founding editor of the upcoming Tokyo Poetry Journal, with Barbara Summerhawk and Jeffrey Johnson. His virgin book of original poetry, Japlish Whiplash, was well reviewed by Japan Times and Kyoto Journal. His latest publication is the book of translations, Bearded Cones and Pleasure Blades: The Collected Poems of Torii Shozo from LA-based highmoonoon press. Yokohama’s Bright Wave Media is slated to publish the anthology of poetry and artwork for charity, Shakin It Back, which he coedited. Most recently, his work has appeared in the Berkeley-based poetry and artzine Eleven Eleven, and The Font: A Literary Journal for Language Teachers. He teaches Creative Writing at Dokkyo University and Daito Bunka University.
1C. Transindividuation and Empathy: Becoming Other in Hypomnesic Milieus Presenter: David Kennedy
Abstract: Information and communications technologies (ICTs) have greatly extended semiotic capabilities into the ethereal, into the province of instant messaging, tweets, posts, likes, emoji, and a plethora of extralinguistic forms of expression. At the same time, these ‘industrial temporal objects’ (Stiegler, 2008) raise new concerns about the nature of communication and community in the realm of the virtual, in networked domains that disrupt and redirect attention, alienating us from place and time, embodied experience, memory, and depth of thought. In this sense digital connectivity is a pharmakon, simultaneously a ‘remedy’ and a ‘poison’. It enhances our ability to create wider worlds of meaning while at the same time, paradoxically, undermining our own critical engagement with that meaning. This paper proposes that in such hypomnesic milieus, multilingual/multicultural education must focus not simply on bringing people and ideas together, but on providing content and texts that lead to empathy and collective transformation. This will require vigilance against the de-humanizing and controlling forces of a shallow populism and consumerism inherent in much of digital life, while nurturing a healthy symbiosis between the embodied and the exteriorized – one that leads to psychic and cultural transindividuation, an expansion of the capacity to create meaning, community, and hope.
Biographical Data: David Kennedy is a contract lecturer in the Department of English Communication at Toyo University. He has taught part-time at many other universities in the Kanto area. His research directions include (among others) content-based learning, semiotics, sociolinguistics, literacy theory, and social theory. He is particularly interested in grounding language pedagogy in a firmer recognition of the full scope of meaning- making potential in the unique experiences of individual learners and in the complex social worlds they inhabit. At Liberlit 2014 he presented on the topic of Social Semiotics and Content-Based Learning. A native of the USA, he has also lived in the Netherlands, the UK, and Japan.
PANEL 2 (10.10-11.30) Room B
2A. Attempt to Teach Literary and Movie Script Textbooks through Cooperative/Collaborative Learning Presenter: Koji Morinaga
Abstract: “Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. Each member of a team is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement.” (from Education Research Consumer Guide) Since the examination hell or the rat race in Japanese educational institutions ended about twenty years ago cooperative / collaborative learning has increasingly been introduced into classrooms because the paradigm of Japanese education have gradually shifted from completion to cooperation / collaboration. I taught literary and movie script textbooks through cooperative /collaborative learning. In the presentation I will introduce the textbooks I used, the procedure of my class and report the result of the effectiveness of this teaching method based on the questionnaire research and whether cooperative learning is effective in improving students’ English proficiency.
Biographical data: Koji Morinaga, a part-time lecturer of Doshisha, Ritsumeikan and Ryukoku Universities and Doshisha Women’s College. He obtained Master of Arts for his master thesis, ‘Wordsworth’s Imagination and Nature’ from Doshisha University. He also obtained Master of Language Education and Information Science for his master thesis, ‘A Method of Teaching Present Perfect Tense Utilizing a Visual Image’ from Ritsumeikan University. His present interest is in methods of teaching grammar and close reading, learning strategies, vocabulary learning and teaching English through movies. His recent oral presentations are ‘An Attempt to have students familiar with English modern classics’ and ‘Practice to improve students’ English presentation skills utilizing an English film’. His recent papers are ‘The Necessity of Establishing Intensive Reading Classes in University English Curricula: an Attempt to Teach Intensive Reading at compulsory and elective classes’ and ‘An Examination of Relationship between Use of Learning Strategies, and Reading or Listening Comprehension Abilities Based on the Research Data of Strategy Inventory for Language Learning By Oxford’.
2B. There and Back Again with Bilbo: a Transformative Experience Presenter: Chutatip Yumitani
Abstract: A group of EFL students spent an academic year reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Their journey was, like Bilbo’s journey, a transformative experience. The presentation describes the students’ transformation from not being able to understand the narrative to understanding its riddles and metaphors and being able to summarize the chapters. As students learned the coming-of-age story of Bilbo, their English education came of age. Upon learning of a-chapter-a-week reading requirement, some students “shrieked and fainted” as Bilbo did upon hearing that neither he nor any of the dwarves might come back alive from their journey. Yet, many students courageously handled riddles when Bilbo woke up alone to face Gollum. As Bilbo fought against giant spiders to save the dwarves with the help of a magic ring, students started learning how to summarize a chapter with the help of a long scaffolding process. When Bilbo had his riddling talk with Smaug, students got to prove both their understanding of the narrative and riddles. The students came to the end of the scaffolding process for summary writing when Bilbo gave the Arkenstone to Bard and the Elvenking to help bring peace among dwarves, elves and men.
Biographical data: Chutatip Yumitani received B.A. (English and French) and M.A. (English) from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and M.A. (Formal/Computational Linguistics) and Ph. D. (Linguistics/First Language Acquisition) from University of Kansas, U.S.A. She has taught at universities in Thailand and at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu. She’s currently teaching at Tohoku Fukushi University and Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University in Sendai.
2C. Black Mirror, “White Bear”: the Social Transformation of Empathy in an L2 Literature Writing Class
Presenter: Richard Pinner
Abstract: The British Channel 4 website describes Black Mirror as a dark, satirical “mini-series that taps into collective unease about our modern world.” The haunting episode entitled “White Bear” contains an extremely jarring twist in which our understanding of and empathy towards the central character, Victoria, is essentially transformed and reversed. I exploited this transformation for the purposes of a reaction paper in an academic writing course focusing on literature, splitting the learners into two groups and disseminating certain cultural information which would, I believed, greatly influence their experience of the episode when we watched it in class. I then asked the students to write a reaction paper, based around three writing prompts, to discern how they had experienced empathy with the central character. I examined the reaction papers closely, comparing how students in each group had experienced the episode based on the cultural insights I had led them to beforehand. In this presentation I will explain in more detail about the contents of the episode and the way empathy was influenced and transformed by cultural knowledge, using a systematic qualitative analysis of the students’ reaction papers. I will then discuss the implications of sociocultural insights in evoking deeper responses from literary content.
Biographical Data: Richard Pinner is an assistant professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, currently undertaking my PhD under Ema Ushioda at the University of Warwick, examining the relationship between authenticity and motivation. I have recently published articles in English Today, The Asian EFL Journal and Language Teaching Research. I also blog at uniliterate.com. His interest in Literature comes from my undergraduate days and was rekindled when he started working at his current position in the Department of English Literature. He says: I love the challenges that teaching literature to L2 speakers brings and the opportunities for sharing cultural knowledge that it allows.
And then, we are delighted to bring you…
PLENARY TALK FROM INVITED GUEST SPEAKER
(11.40-12.50, Room C)
Texts as Transformative Tools
Abstract: “Texts as Transformative Tools” explores the act of reading and the creation of meaning in literary works. Using examples from Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Woolf and Jean Rhys, the four-part paper will examine the process and importance of transformative poetics. It will attempt to answer an important pedagogic question: how do lives transform texts and texts transform lives?
The term “transformation” is the key. It will be discussed in two ways, the first examining how the act of reading responds to the performative dimension of a work to establish meaning. Here, Wolfgang Iser’s comment in The Act of Reading is helpful: “each text constitutes its own reader.” The second interpretation of transformation is intertextual, looking at texts that transform other texts. Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea, a re-appropriation of Jane Eyre will be one example. The transformation of characters within texts will also be studied presented in the extreme by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.
What does it mean to discover that it is the reader and not the author who activates the meaning of the text? What does the student learn in the process and what happens to the work during this process, transforming it from a set of inkspots into a meaningful statement about heroism, love, failure? Reading as a transformative practice becomes an event, and the answer to the question what is a sentence or a poem or a work of fiction doing.
Biographical data: Ira Nadel, Professor of English at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, studied at Rutgers and Cornell universities. His work and teaching has concentrated on the Victorians and moderns, offering courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Of particular interest have been Joyce, Pound, Woolf, Stein and Philip Roth, as well as the theory of biography. He has lectured in France, England, Germany, Israel, Korea and China, as well as throughout North America. His publications include biographies of Leonard Cohen, Tom Stoppard, David Mamet and Leon Uris.
His published articles range from Dickens to Joyce and David Foster Wallace. Forthcoming are articles on Canadian Copyright and the impact of 9/11 on American Fiction. He has also edited the formerly unpublished letters of Alice Corbin Henderson, Associate Editor of Poetry magazine, to Ezra Pound, the Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound and Ezra Pound in Context, also published by Cambridge. In 2011, his Critical Companion to Philip Roth appeared and in 2013, the critical study, Modernism’s Second Act. He is completing a short life of Virginia Woolf and a longer account of Philip Roth. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a UBC Distinguished University Scholar.
PANEL 3 (14.00-15.20) Room A
3A. Investigating the Sparkle of the Shining Prince: Some of the Hows and Whys of Teaching Japanese Classics in English Translation in Japan.
Presenter: Frances Causer
Abstract: Many Japanese miss out on the marvels of their literary heritage. Because of the alienating way in which classics such as The Tale of Genji are usually taught at school, not as literary masterpieces, but as vehicles for difficult questions in university entrance examinations, when these texts are no longer required reading most students are only too glad to drop them. Since considerable effort is necessary before reading pre-modern Japanese can become a pleasure, modern Japanese versions and English translations of the classics can serve as stepping stones towards appreciating the original texts. I teach Japanese literature in university classes for international exchange students who have very different levels of competence in Japanese language. The Japanese students attending these classes also vary widely in their ability to follow English-medium classes. We read and discuss texts in a combination of original pre-modern Japanese, modern Japanese “translation” and English translation. The class aims are simple; to have both groups of students enjoy the readings, and appreciate the brilliance of Japanese literary works that they would perhaps not select to read of their own volition. I will explain both how daunting it is to satisfy the needs and interests of such disparate students, and how rewarding Japanese literature studies can be for students and instructor alike.
Biographical Data: Frances Causer teaches English literature and language and cultural studies at Seijo University in Tokyo. Seijo has a Japan Studies programme for international exchange students, and Seijo’s Japanese students are allowed to join these classes if their English is good enough for them to keep up with classes in English. Frances has just finished her second year of teaching Japanese literature in the programme, juggling how to teach these two disparate groups. She prefers classical Japanese literature to modern Japanese literature – partly because Murasaki Shikibu and the Heian sisterhood are so inspiring for feminists who grew up with the dead white men model of Western literature.
3B. Literature in Translation in the EFL Classroom Presenter: Kathryn M. Tanaka
Abstract: In recent years, the use of literature as a pedagogical tool for language teaching has been receiving growing attention. Certainly, literature offers an engagement with subtle syntax and new vocabulary as students actively engage with the text to understand the nuances and meaning. The challenge is to use literature in a way that challenges students while not alienating them with a text that is too dense. This presentation argues that one way students of English in Japan can become confident and active readers is through the use of Japanese literature taught in English translation. The familiar cultural background gives students confidence and increases their language and cultural sensitivity, even at the beginning levels. Using texts in translation can be seen as an act of transformation: not only between languages and cultures, but also for the reader as learners become more sensitive to language and the way meaning is transferred between cultures. I demonstrate a variety of techniques for teaching literature in translation and I discuss ways to use literary texts to creatively engage students. Ultimately, I argue that using literature in translation can not only be a productive but a transformative pedagogical tool.
Biographical Data: Kathryn Tanaka received her PhD in Japanese literature from the University of Chicago. She currently teaches Japanese literature, comparative literature, and culture in the Department of Cultural and Historical Studies of Otemae University. Her research explores community creation and the intersections of medicine and literature. Her English translation of Hojo Tamio’s “Inochi no shoya,” “”Life’s First Night” and the Treatment of Hansen’s Disease in Japan” is available online. Her other publications include “Contested Histories and Happiness: Leprosy Literature in Japan,” in Health, Culture and Society, Volume 5, No. 1 (2013) and “Senzen Nihon no Hansen-byō no ryōyōjo ni okeru tanka ni yoru koryū—Kyushu ryōyōjo no “Hinokagekai”wo chūshin ni” in Hansen-byō shimin gakkai nenpō 2013 (2014). She is at present finishing her book manuscript, Through the Hospital Gates: Hansen’s Disease and Modern Japanese Literature.
3C. Reading Seventeen Syllables: Learner Understandings of Hisaye Yamamoto’s Stories Presenter: Hugh Nicoll
Abstract: The works of Hisaye Yamamoto, 1921-2011, author of Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories (1988), offer Japanese students of English multiple pathways towards thinking about and developing their understandings of language, literature, and cultural history. This short paper will explore two groups of student experiences of her texts, focusing on how their encounters with Yamamoto’s stories transform their ideas on language learning through literature. I will offer a brief introduction to Yamamoto’s work for any conference participants unfamiliar with her stories, then discuss my work with two groups of students. The first is a group of second year students currently working on “Seventeen Syllables.” I will discuss both their written reflections as well as transcripts of our in-class discussions. This year I also have three fourth year students exploring Japanese American writers in their graduation theses. I will analyze students’ responses to the challenges they face in reading Yamamoto’s works, and describe the ways we are using online resources and tools in addition to face-to-face discussions in our efforts to understand and learn from Yamamoto’s stories.
Biographical Data: Hugh Nicoll has been teaching in Japan for thirty+ years, and currently serves as Professor of English and American Studies at Miyazaki Municipal University. A devoted jazz fan, seeking to embrace interdisciplinary approaches in all pursuits. Research interests center on 19 & 20C American history and literature, contemporary poetics, Critical Pedagogies, Literacy and Learner Autonomy.
PANEL 4 (14.00-15.20) Room B
4A. Accomplishing Transformation by the Use of Authentic Literary Texts in English-Language Classrooms in Japan
Presenter: Wendy Jones Nakanishi
Abstract: How can learning represent a meaningful experience? How can students be transformed by their education? In this presentation I propose that such meaning, such transformation can be effected by literature in general and, specifically, for the purposes of this conference, by the use of authentic English literary texts not only in the English-language classrooms of Japanese universities but also in any adult education class in Japan intended for English instruction. The advisability of using authentic English literature in such classrooms in Japan as opposed to graded readers leveled by vocabulary frequency or simplified short stories is a hotly- debated topic in academic circles. Teaching literature to language learners has sometimes been seen as an indulgence because it may be ineffective in promoting students’ academic or occupational goals. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that the use of ungraded literature can provide naturalistic examples of grammar and offer students not only a rich and real context for language but also the opportunity to consider important themes – the study of the human condition – encapsulated in the best of stories and poetry. This paper will discuss the use of literature in English-language classes in Japan in general and specifically describe a textbook that may be adapted for the purposes of both high and low-level English learners here.
Biographical Data: Wendy Jones Nakanishi is a full-time professor at Shikoku Gakuin University and she teaches part-time at Kagawa University. She got her BA with special departmental honors in English from Indiana University (USA), her MA from Lancaster University (England) in eighteenth-century English studies, and a Ph.D. from Edinburgh University (Scotland) with a thesis subsequently published as a critical monograph by the University of Victoria (Canada) entitled Talking on Paper: The Letters of Alexander Pope. She has published widely not only in her chosen field of eighteenth-century English literature but also on 19th-, 20th and 21st-century English and Japanese literature. In recent years, she has begun publishing creative non-fiction pieces about her life in Japan as an academic, wife of a farmer, and mother of three sons. In 2014 she published, with Mari Ota and Simon Bibby, Real Reads (Perceptia Press) intended as an introduction to English literature for Japanese university and mature students.
4B. Content-Validity in Testing English Literature in Japanese University Classes Presenter: Neil Conway
Abstract: This presentation will examine some of the issues which teachers of English literature in the EFL context of Japanese universities face when deciding how to test their students. Teachers who work within the formal restrictions of the university system are confronted by not only the mundane practicalities of the term length and the teach-to-test paradigm, but also the problem of content-validity in an assessment system which ostensibly uses criterion-referenced testing even for literature-based subjects. Parkinson and Reid Thomas (2000) propose that “literature is inherently affective in a way which perhaps applies to no other subject”. While this sentiment seems to encapsulate some of the principal motivations for teaching literature, as an observation it is a challenge to would-be assessors: how can we quantify that which we teach in abstract, and how can we maintain consistent standards across our testing? The problems of test design, and in particular validity, in testing literature will be raised, and potential solutions will be discussed.
Biographical Data: Neil Conway teaches EAP and English Literature in universities in Tokyo. His research interests are in assessment and classroom practice.
4C. Several Practical Approaches for American Literature in the Language Classroom Presenters: Fuyuhiko Sekido, Aimei Kobayashi, Akiko Yamanaka
Abstract: In this paper several approaches to using American literature, including novels or translations, in the language classroom will be introduced and discussed. Fuyuhiko Sekido will report on integrated reading classes using American literature, particularly Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Fitzgerald’s “Three Hours between Planes.” He describes how to manage such classes in detail. In his class, learners are required not only to practice reading skills but also writing, listening, and speaking. Secondly, Aimei Kobayashi will report on “How to get the Students to Read as Many American Novels as Possible and Properly.” He describes the effectiveness of a mailing list for getting the students to prepare their lessons as well as for managing the whole class. He also introduces methods for conveying some peculiar charms of American novels (e.g. the uniqueness of African American dialect) to the students. Third, Akiko Yamanaka will report on “Learning American Literature and English through Translation,” an attempt to improve students’ English skills through translating short fiction stories written in intermediate level English. In her class, the students discuss the task of the week which they submit beforehand so that they have better understanding of the work. Also, the students have opportunities to work together in groups to present a joint translation in order to reinforce their proficiency in both reading English and comprehending literature.
Biographical Data: Fuyuhiko Sekido has been teaching English in Japan for more than 10 years, the last 5 years at universities. He completed his MA in American literature at Meiji Gakuin University in March, 2000. Mr. Sekido has been a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University since April, 2006 and Aoyama Gakuin University since April, 2009. He has been a Contact Assistant Professor at Dokkyo University since April, 2014. His recent research interests include the effective use of literature in English education and practical methods for the language classroom.
Aimei Kobayashi completed his doctoral course in American literature at Aoyama Gakuin University in March, 2005. He has been a part-time lecturer at Aoyama Gakuin University since 2008, and a full-time lecturer at Tokyo Jogakkan College since 2014. His recent research papers include the studies of poetical works by Robert Lowell, Kay Ryan, and Robert Pinsky. He also has interest in the effective use of American literate for English classroom.
Akiko Yamanaka has been teaching English in several Japanese universities for almost 10 years. She completed her MA in American literature at Dokkyo University, and obtained a Ph. D. in the same field at Showa Women’s University in 2007. Ms. Yamanaka is teaching at Dokkyo University since April 2007, and a full-time lecturer at Nippon Institute of Technology since 2014. Her recent research interests include Modern American Poetry (especially John Berryman and Kay Ryan), literary translation, and how to utilize literary works in language classrooms.
PANEL 5 (15.30-16.50) Room A
5A: Transformation in A Night in November: Deconstructing Hegemony Presenter: Eucharia Donnery
Abstract: This presentation has two short discussions before moving into the literary text. When someone mistakes your nationality, how does this affect your sense of identity? The subject of the play A Night in November is about transforming and transcending identity, therefore it is firstly important to understand about the geo-political situation at its thematic heartland: where are the British Isles, Great Britain, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Éire and what are the differences between them? The next part concerns how bias and prejudice are constructed through the Self and Other dichotomy of power hegemony, which seeks to highlight differences between groups, seeking confirmation bias of Otherness, of difference. The problem with this discourse is that mere categorization and stereotyping can easily move into the realm of demonization and overt hatred. The play encapsulates the historical moment when Northern Ireland played the Republic of Ireland on November 17th, 1993, in the qualifying match for the 1994 Soccer World Cup. It follows the transformation of the protagonist Kenneth, a Northern Irish Protestant Loyalist from unwilling supporter of his father-in-law’s overt bigotry, racism and prejudice to a tolerant attitude of enlightenment.
Biographical Data: Eucharia Donnery has a BA in English Literature and Sociology, an MA in colonial and feminist discourse specializing in the dramatic literature of Caryl Churchill and has a PhD in process drama in SLA, which integrates drama, sociology and historical research all from the National University College Cork, Ireland (UCC). While PhD candidate, she and another candidate and won UCC’s Doctoral Showcase in the “Creative Mind” category. At UCC, she is a proof-reader for the EU Language Label awarding-winning online journal Scenario. Concurrently, she is part of a Irish literature research group based at Waseda University which has applied for the kakenhi research grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. She is Tokyo JALT Journal editor and the incoming coordinator of GALE. In her current position at Department of Applied Computer Sciences, Shonan Institute of Technology, she teaches sociology and CALL through the medium of Japanese.
5B: Thinking Like a Pro: How Discourse Awareness Transforms ESP Learners Presenter: Mike Guest
Abstract: Each professional discourse community has its own way of creating and managing texts, both spoken and written. If we accept that the purpose of learning English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is to help foster entry into a particular discourse community, then it stands to reason that a focus upon how texts and interactions are managed in a given field should be at the foundation of every ESP course. This presentation aims not only to underscore the importance of understanding modes of discourse in order to participate in English-speaking professional communities but will also makes the argument that such a focus enhances the ability of learners to think more like professionals – in short, that a discourse-based focus can have a positive effect upon cognition in general, even at the level of the student’s first language. Taking the presenter’s own history in developing an ESP program for Japanese medical students, it will be demonstrated – using both concrete classroom examples and in-house research tools – how a discourse-based approach goes well beyond mere language learning and can transform how students view themselves and their roles as future professionals.
Biographical Data: Mike Guest is not a teacher of literature. He teaches English for Specific Purposes/English for Academic Purposes (ESP/EAP) in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Miyazaki as Associate Professor of English. A 25-year resident of Japan, he has long been a regular columnist on ELT affairs in The Daily Yomiuri/The Japan News newspapers, has written hordes of academic papers, a smattering of published English skills books in both Japanese and English, and has given a plethora of presentations worldwide. He has also recently self-published his first novel, a mystery entitled “The Little Suicides”. Over a beer, he can wax eloquent upon language testing, ESP, and discourse analysis but is self-admittedly a neophyte when it comes to the academic nitty-gritty of literature.
5C: Transformation and the Shifting of the Foundations of Allegory: Reflections on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Presenter: Barnaby Ralph
Abstract: When one thinks of literary allusion in the Western literary tradition, perhaps the sources which come to mind most forcefully are the Bible or Classical mythology, followed closely by the stalwarts of the canon, from Shakespeare to Milton and beyond. Part of the intertextual game of literature is to engage with the inspirations for ideas. What happens, however, when an author chooses to walk outside the implied borders? The 2007 Pulitzer Prizewinning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, is an example of exactly this taking place. Whilst many traditional allusions are apparent, they sit equally with references to pop and geek culture, including movies, television, comics, and science fiction novels. Readers are forced to ask what this shift might mean. Diaz himself has discussed this in an interview, saying of his protagonist: “it’s really fascinating, because in some ways the book asks the readers…to take not only Oscar seriously but his interests seriously.” This paper considers the effect of changing the sources of allusion in terms of a concept of “the literary,” as well as possible implications for the teaching of literature and its surprising potential for intersection with pop culture.
Biographical Data: Barnaby Ralph is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of English Communication at Tokyo Kasei University, but will be moving to Seikei University from April 1, 2015. A somewhat eclectic scholar, he has published and presented internationally on a broad range of topics, including critical theory, pedagogy, musicology, cultural studies and post-Romantic textuality. He holds degrees in English literature, law, music, applied linguistics and rhetoric/aesthetics, with the last of these being a PhD. At present, Dr. Ralph teaches a number of courses which require students to have a knowledge of both primary literary texts and relevant theories. Much of his research in the last couple of years has considered the role, teaching and function of critical theory in both an institutional and broader social context.
PANEL 6 (15.30-16.50) Room B
6A: Poetry Writing for Healing: Implications for the Second Language Classroom Presenter: Atsushi Iida
Abstract: One of the principal goals of second language (L2) learning in the English as a foreign language (EFL) context is to develop literacy skills in the target language. In this context, L2 students are, in general, expected to learn L2 linguistic and structural knowledge. However, what would happen when L2 writers brought their deeply traumatic life experiences in the classroom? Is it important to teach grammar to these students? What really matters in this context? This presentation addresses this issue by exploring how poetry writing can transform the L2 classroom. The presenter will first discuss the nature of poetry from L2 writing perspectives and then report on a poetic inquiry into a multilingual writer’s traumatic life experience. This autoethnographic research involved the analysis of L2 poems, written by Atsushi Iida, concerning his experience of the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake and investigated how he expressed his emotion and presented his identity in the poems. With some empirical evidence, this presentation illustrates how poetry writing can make the L2 classroom dynamic and humanistic. In this session, the presenter will also propose the effective use of poetry in the Japanese EFL classroom.
Biographical Data: Atsushi Iida is Assistant Professor in the University Education Center at Gunma University where he has taught first-year and second-year English courses. He was awarded his Ph.D. in English (Composition and TESOL) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA. He has published his work in various journals including Scientific Study of Literature, English Teaching Forum, Asian EFL Journal, Assessing Writing, and The Language Teacher. His research interests include second language writing, literature in second language education, writing for academic publication, and English for Specific Purposes (ESP).
6B: Poetry, Individual Differences, and Transformation Presenter: Jane Joritz-Nakagawa
Abstract: It’s been said that no social change is possible without personal change. Poetry can be used as a springboard for examining one’s own perspectives as well as other perspectives — the implied perspective of a speaker in a poem, the perspectives of learners in the classroom, the perspectives of teachers and of those who write poetry / about poetry, among others. Examining one’s perspectives is the first step in a process of personal transformation. Teachers can design and implement lessons which will appeal to and provide appropriate amounts of challenge and stimulation to the diverse (in terms of interests, abilities, preferences and in other respects such as age, gender, and others) learners we have in our classrooms in Japan. In so doing we can create appropriate opportunities for critical reflection and personal growth as well as for language acquisition. Joritz-Nakagawa will describe / demonstrate /discuss with participants an approach to using poetry in the classroom blending insights from cooperative learning (especially the Learning Together, Structural, Jigsaw, and Group Investigation approaches), Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory, Jung’s theory of psychological types, task-based, stimulus-based, and learner-based teaching, content-based instruction, and transformative learning (the latter especially as defined by Jack Mezirow and Patricia Cranton). Sample activities will be shared.
Biographical Data: Jane Joritz-Nakagawa has lived in Japan since 1989. Her most recent university post was Associate Professor, Aichi University of Education, where she taught courses in poetry, pedagogy, and gender, among other subject areas; she has also taught a graduate course in American poetry in Tokyo. Currently she is a full-time writer, researcher and poet. Her eighth book of poems, titled “distant landscapes,” is forthcoming in spring 2015 with U.S. poetry publisher Theeenk Books. She has published hundreds of poems in international journals as well as many essays and numerous academic articles on pedagogy, poetry, and gender. A review of her most recent poetry book is online at: http://plumwoodmountain.com/pam-brown- reviews-flux-and-wild-black-lake-by-jane-joritz-nakagawa/. Jane currently lives in Shizuoka city but spends considerable time in a remote mountainous area in Nagano prefecture. Her current research interests include ecopoetics, feminism and avant-garde poetry by women, and learner-centered pedagogy. Contact Jane via
6C: Words with Worth! Enriching EFL Reading With Wordsworth’s Sonnets Presenters: Neil Addison & Neil Conway
Abstract: Reading literature allows us to tap into the universal human experience, leading us to look out at the world through others` eyes, and instructing us to view the world from different perspectives, cultures, countries and time periods. While containing universal properties, literature is also a very culturally specific artifact, being both a product of and a negotiated response to specific cultural communities. To understand a literary text may well help us to understand the culture which underpins it, yet, in an L2 context, the cultural background of such a text may also prove to be an obstruction for reading students, preventing them from grasping meaning. It is therefore important that EFL reading teachers choose poetic texts carefully, and this presentation focuses on how sonnets by William Wordsworth were taught by two instructors to Japanese students at different universities. While, at first glance, such antiquated and culturally specific poetry may seem incommensurate with Japanese students` lives and interests, this paper argues that Wordsworth`s verse, if scaffolded appropriately, contains universal themes which are both thematically and lexically of worth for modern learners. The effectiveness of such an approach is further discussed and broadened through an examination of post-course research data.
Biographical Data: Neil Addison was born in the U.K and first came to Japan over ten years ago. He is now based in Suginami-ku and is Associate Professor in the Department of Literature and Culture at Tokyo Joshi Daigaku. His research reflects his interest in using literature in the language classroom to improve students` holistic reading skills and critical thinking abilities. He is currently undertaking his PhD in linguistics at Birmingham University, and his research thesis is entitled ‘Literary narrative analysis and EL2 reading proficiency’. When not juggling teaching, studying and writing he can be found receiving advice and guidance from the sympathetic Buddha-like cat that lives in his apartment.
Neil Conway teaches EAP and English Literature in universities in Tokyo. His research interests are in assessment and classroom practice.
PANEL 7 (17.00-17.50) Room A
7A: Giving Students the Tools to Enhance Transformation Presenter: Christine Wilby
Abstract: It is the wish of all teachers, and especially literature teachers, to see their students making lasting connections and life-changing transformations through the works they are studying. In EFL, however, there is the added dimension of doing this in a non-native language. Referencing interaction theory, this presentation looks at transformation from the bottom up – from the level of language choice, and discourse interaction. It will explore current theory, examine examples of transformative language from discourse and conversational analysis of recorded classroom discussions, and conclude with suggestions for ways teachers may encourage transformative, rather than merely transactional, language in their class discussions.
Biographical Data: Christine Wilby is a professor at J. F. Oberlin University, taking Academic English studies in the Graduate School. She has a Ph.D. (discourse in society) from the University of Aston, UK, and has been teaching in Japan for several decades. She sees studies in post-colonial literature as an excellent and exciting way to engage students in the issues of globalization and language, specifically in issues of marginality and identity. Among her publications are: Post Colonial Literature and Globalisation – locating new centers (Obirin Studies in English Language and Literature Vol. 49 2009) and Towards Another Summer –Surrendering to the call of the Myth-maker (J.F. Oberlin University Studies in Humanities, Second Issue, 2011).
7B: The Awakening and A Separate Peace through Different Lenses Presenter: Kayo Ozawa
Abstract: Students in a native/ near-native level returnee class reviewed the following literary critical approaches: New Critical/Formalist, Moral/Intellectual, Historical Critical, Biographical, Narratological, Marxist/ Economic Determinist, Feminist, Psychological/ Psychoanayltical, Archetypal/Symbolic/ Mythic, Reader-response, Structuralist, and Deconstructionist. In groups, students chose one of the above literary approaches and analyzed a novel, doing a fifteen to twenty minute presentation. The two textbooks that they have studied over the year are Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and John Knowles A Separate Peace. Following their presentations, students were asked to write essays about the approach that they took for their presentations. Through these presentations of literary analysis from multiple lenses, students were transformed from passive readers, where the instructor only lectures about the textbook to autonomous learners who have created unique perspectives. Students evaluated each others’ presentations along with the instructor, focusing on the following points: delivery, eye contact, posture, volume, clear focus of the main topic, comprehension of material, reference to the novel, and conclusion. The idea of Presentation Zen was introduced. For future adaptation of such ideas to shorter works and the average ESL classroom, tools such as Lextutor and Wordle can be used, and the literary critical approaches can be introduced bilingually.
Biographical Data: Kayo Ozawa has been teaching at ICU High School for over twenty five years, first as a full- time teacher and now as a part-timer. She currently teaches as a part-time lecturer at Kyoritsu Women’s College as well. She has taught literary texts to returnees at the high school and Current Events, Reading, Listening, and TOEIC at the university. She has taught such works as Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” as well as a wide variety of short stories, such as D. H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking Horse Winner” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “EPICAC”. She has recently finished a course in technology (COETAIL see http://www.coetail.com/) at the Yokohama International School. She is specifically interested in making literature more accessible to students of all levels in Japan, through vocabulary analysis and the use of technology and other forms of media.
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