WMU Home > WMU News

WMU News

WMU News on Twitter

Visiting scholar to address Japanese gender issues

Sept. 17, 2009

KALAMAZOO--An authority on Japanese culture, particularly as it pertains to gender, visits campus later this month to deliver a keynote address at a symposium at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Jan Bardsley, associate professor of Japanese humanities and chair of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, will be the main speaker at "The Symposium on Gender Studies Across Languages and Disciplines" from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, in Room 157 of the Bernhard Center. Her presentation, titled "Geisha, Pop Star, Princess: Japan Miscast?" is free and open to the public.

Bardsley's speech will address the question of who can represent Japan. Controversy arose in China and Japan when Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi took the lead role in "Memoirs of a Geisha" in 2005. That same year, heated debate raced over the Internet when American pop star Gwen Stefani dipped into Japanese youth fashion to create her own version of "Harajuku Girls." And Princess Masako, a bona fide Japanese royal, has ruffled feathers over her representation of Japan. Each case points to questions of authenticity and appropriation, revealing an uneasy politics of race and gender.

Bardsley is the author of the monograph "The Bluestockings of Japan: New Women Essays and Fiction from Seito, 1911-16." She also co-edited the anthology "Bad Girls of Japan" and co-directed the documentary film "Women in Japan: Memories of the Past, Dreams for the Future."

Her research focuses on Japanese feminism, Japanese women's magazines and popular culture, encounters between women in the United States and Japan and feminine icons.

Gender Studies Across Languages and Disciplines
List of speakers

  • Myra Bonet, University of Illinois, Springfield
  • Adrienne Redding, WMU
  • Mizue Sasaki, Musashino University, Tokyo
  • Yoichi Shimemura, Musashino University, Tokyo
  • Laura Spielvogel, WMU
  • Mayumi Usama, Tokyo University of Foreign Languages

WMU Visiting Scholars and Artists Program

Bardsley is coming to campus through the WMU Visiting Scholars and Artists Program. The program was established in 1960 to contribute to the intellectual life of WMU and the community by providing funds for academic units to bring distinguished scholars and artists to campus. In addition to meeting with faculty and students, these scholars address the community at large. Since its inception, it has supported more than 600 visits by scholars and artist representing more than 60 academic disciplines. The chair of the committee that oversees the program is Dr. Elke Schoffers, associate professor of chemistry.

The symposium is being organized by the WMU Japanese Studies Program and is sponsored by the Department of Foreign Languages, Soga Japan Center, the Gender and Women's Studies Program and the Women's Caucus.

For more information, contact Dr. Rika Saito, WMU assistant professor of foreign languages, at (269) 387-3020 or rika.saito@wmich.edu.

Share |

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400