Exploring Unexpected Connections: My role as a scholar
I took up my post this summer as Specially Appointed Assistant Professor（Liberal Arts Communicator）. My research focuses on the literary output of Kirino Natsuo. Debuting as a mystery writer in 1993, her work underwent a transformation in the 2000s, defying easy categorization. That same period, the 1990s and 2000s, ushered in the “unequal society” in Japan. I research a number of themes in her work that interest me; namely crime and women, changes in the description of labor, and her work’s connection to shifts in the structure of Japanese society.
It was while I was a grad student that I chose to research Kirino’s work. Languages are not my strong point, so I decided to focus on a domestic topic in Japanese. But as I worked on Kirino, I became aware that many foreign scholars are also interested in her writing, and so I hastily started taking English language classes too. I was asked the same question by several classmates. “Why is someone who works on Japanese literature coming to English classes?” Each time I would end up explaining in awful English that it was my research on Japanese literature that had brought me here.
I am now working at Nichibunken as a Liberal Arts Communicator, a scholar charged with highlighting the connections between research and society*. I often think about the exchanges I had back then, and the shift from “I study Japanese literature, what am I doing here?” to “I am here because I study Japanese literature.” It is now my job to clarify and strengthen the links between research on Japanese culture and the world, emphasizing the connections that indeed exist between the two. This endeavor has persuasive power because it is backed up by specialist knowledge. I am still early in my career as a scholar, and so shall continue to work on my research even as I engage with the task of making Nichibunken accessible to more and more people. I look forward to working with you!
＊ See this link on the role of Liberal Arts Communicator