Research Project 4

In Research Project 4G, as we approach the end of the academic year, class time has been divided between students giving updates on the progression of their individual “border-crossing” research projects, guidance on the questions they should be asking themselves as they frame the writing of their reports, and discussion of the final class topic: “border-crossing”, or “transnational literature” written in English.

Specifically, in this week’s class, we considered the writer Kazuo Ishiguro, who was born in Nagasaki, moved to the UK at the age of five, and has forged a successful career as a writer in the English language (or an “Anglophone writer”), winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. One of the biggest issues relating to “border-crossing literature” is translatability. Ishiguro’s writing is known for being exceptionally “British” – even though it is not his culture by birth, or perhaps because of this, he has been able to acquire a writing style very conscious of traditional norms of British literature. However, such a writing style is difficult to convey in Japanese translation. Using this issue as a starting point, we had a class discussion about “context-specific” issues of individual students’ research projects. What part of the research topic (concepts, proper nouns, motivation) is obvious to a Japanese reader, but would require additional explanation to somebody with a different background?

Building on this discussion, students will be producing two versions of an abstract for their topic, one in Japanese, and one in English, and be encouraged to consider the (a)symmetry between the two versions.