[Lunchtime Lecture] Kokugo (National Language) in the Era of English: from a Writer’s Perspective

  • Lecturer: Mizumura Minae, Novelist
  • Date & Time:Thursday, February 25, 2010, 1:30 pm–2:45 pm (Lecture only)
  • Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan
  • Admission: Lecture only: 1,500 yen (IHJ Members: 1,000 yen)
  • Lecture and lunch ticket: 3,000 yen (IHJ Members: 2,000 yen)
  • Language: Japanese (no English translation provided)

The novelist Mizumura Minae says that we are living in an age where dealing with the world depends on our ability to use the English language. Indeed, the need to learn English is so strongly felt in Japan that English education now starts in elementary schools. Although more works in Japanese language by non-Japanese are winning literary awards and more Japanese novels are being translated into other languages, the state of the national language of Japan or kokugo is no longer secure. It has now become more important than ever to examine its historical significance and its future. Ms. Mizumura, who in her own work has been taking on new challenges by mixing English in a Japanese novel, will talk from a writer fs point of view about how the education of Japanese language and literature needs to be reconsidered.

Mizumura Minae

Mizumura Minae Born in Tokyo. Moved to the United States at age twelve. After studying French Literature at Yale College and Yale Graduate School, she came back to Japan on a fellowship from the Japan Foundation. She has taught modern Japanese literature at Princeton, the University of Michigan, and Stanford. Her books include: Zoku meian [Light and Darkness Continued] (1990; the Minister of Education Award for New Artists), Honkaku shosetsu [A Real Novel] (2002; Yomiuri Prize for Literature), Nihongo ga horobiru toki [Fall of the Japanese Language in the Age of English] (2008; Kobayashi Hideo Award), Nihongo de yomu toiu koto [To Read in the Japanese Language] (2009) and Nihongo de kaku toiu kotoK/i> [To Write in the Japanese Language] (2009).