IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences: Volume 7 – Issue 1
Editor: Dr Richard Donovan, Kansai University, Japan
Published: December 1, 2018
The sixth issue of the IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship under my editorship exhibits precisely the kind of multilateral dialogue that the Journal was designed to facilitate. As always, it showcases the recent work of a group of literary scholars diverse in subject fields, approaches, nationalities, and stages of academic development. Not for the first time, however, it also demonstrates the kind of synergistic energies that serendipitously lead such far-flung scholars to pursue similar topics at similar times, thereby creating a kind of global conversation.
Our first contributor, Professor LI Ou, gave the keynote address at The IAFOR Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities in Kobe in March of this year, entitled “British Romanticism in China, Received, Revised, and Resurrected”. She has kindly allowed an expanded version of her presentation to be published here. The reception of other countries’ and cultures’ literature and other cultural artefacts has an incalculable influence on the host culture, and this has been true in both directions for the East and West. Li’s focus on China’s reception of British Romanticism is a fascinating overview of one direction of this interchange.
Our second paper presents another side of the East–West dialogue. Halia Koo traces Swiss author Nicolas Bouvier’s response to his travels through Japan through his interweaving of historical and personal events in The Japanese Chronicles. Koo shows how Bouvier both humanises historical figures and gives voice to the ‘ordinary’ individuals he encounters in modern-day Japan, revealing how inextricably linked historical and personal narratives are, and how fundamental to the nature of national identities and intercultural contact.
Alessandro Giardino also explores francophone interactions with the East in his paper about Marguerite Yourcenar, a French literary giant whose Japanese influences are little known. This article is an intimate portrait of the writer, one which argues that Yourcenar made use of Eastern literature to help her come to terms with the loss of her mother at an early age, and that many of her literary motifs have their origins in the treatment of life’s impermanence in such works.
Conversely, the Asian authors of the next two papers turn their attention to Western figures. Elyssa Y. Cheng treats two works by the seventeenth-century British playwrights Thomas Middleton and Ben Jonson, considering the interface of sexual politics and nascent materialism embodied in prostitution in London. Cheng critiques how the playwrights lay the blame for the corruption of public morals squarely at the feet of the women and their material desires, arguing that the plays in fact reveal male anxieties about women’s developing economic agency.
Meanwhile, Yoriko Ishida puts us alongside the remarkable women who defied the gender roles of eighteenth-century Europe in dressing as men and serving on naval vessels. Her exemplar is Hannah Snell, who successfully served as a marine for four years and endured countless hardships and injuries without revealing her identity. The paper examines how such cross-dressing women were portrayed in the media and publications of the time, and the implications of such women’s actions for issues of gender.
In our final paper, Djamila Houamdi brings a fresh perspective to William Faulkner’s celebrated—and sometimes reviled—Southern masterpiece Absalom, Absalom! The paper focuses on Faulkner the modernist’s use of language, but most fundamentally his demonstration through language that language itself is at once unbounded and unknowable, much like the humanity that struggles to communicate with it.
As scholars in the field of literature, we are all engaged in a struggle with language, and a multiplicity of languages, one which we hope will lead to enlightenment, but at the very least represents an attempt at communicating across different lived experiences and modes of being. The present issue’s papers demonstrate the world’s scholars’ ongoing commitment to engaging both with language and each other.
In the spirit of engagement, I would like to mention the invaluable contribution of our Editorial Board to the enhancement of the articles in this issue. Thank you as always.
Dr Richard Donovan
IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship