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Panel 12 | 10:40-12:30 | ROOM C

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Panel 12 | 10:40-12:30 | ROOM C

12 - Race & Ethnicity, Hintz Alumni Center

“Translingual Melancholia in Yi Sang’s Visual Poetry,” Yoon Jeong Oh, Cornell University

  • Is the Chinese ideograph verbal or visual? This paper will specifically explore how the Korean writer and artist Yi Sang plays with the Chinese ideograph in his Japanese poem “Twenty Two Years” and its Korean version “Poem No. V.” Living during the period of Japanese colonialism, Yi Sang, who also worked as an architect for the Japanese government, focuses on the heterogeneity and hybridity that the binary system of colonialism deliberately ignores and sets aside. While writing in both his Korean mother tongue and the Japanese colonial language, Yi Sang also employs multiple other languages, such as classical Chinese, French, Latin, and even images including mathematical symbols. In doing so, Yi Sang divulges the ungrieved heterogeneity that undergirds both the illusion of a one and only mother-tongue and the violent desire for linguistic homogeneity and a homolingual society. This linguistic melancholia is always expressed in the logic of translation. For translation is after all repetition, and translation repeats the very loss of language—whether of the transparent, homogeneous language that never existed from the inception or of the heterogeneity of language that is never worked through. By repeating this loss, translation returns to heterogeneity and returns difference to language. This logic of translation strikingly appears in Yi Sang’s translingual experimentation with visual poetry. The mirrored image of the two poems brings forth intertextuality and emphasizes repetition thriving on difference rather than on the same. Moreover, the interplay between the verbal and the visual in Yi Sang’s work eventually proves that the singularity is only possible through the heterogeneity in multiplicity.

"Imaging Mixed Race: Imagining Nation,” Zelideth Maria Rivas, Marshall University

  • Since the 1946 first mixed-race baby birth in Occupation Japan, they mesmerized the Japanese public. These children were at once accepted and rejected. They were accepted as visual markers for U.S. American and Japanese friendship while also rejected as symbolic reminders of Japan’s loss, racial betrayal, and female impropriety. In 1948, the Elizabeth Saunders Home became the image used to shelter these mixed-race children from their rejection as the first orphanage in Japan specifically for mixed-race Japanese children. The children from Elizabeth Saunders Home went on to capture the Japanese imagination in films, such as Kiku to Isamu (1959), Yassa Mossa (Confusion, 1953), and Konketsuji (Mixed Blood Children).

    And yet, it was the 1968 manga Sain wa V! (The Sign is V!) by Mochizuki Akira and Jinbo Shirō that linked the children of Elizabeth Saunders Home with representations of the nation. Here, readers explored their national identities by reliving the 1964 Tokyo Olympics victory of the women’s volleyball team as the Tachiki Musashi team aspires to the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Each player struggles with what it means to represent the nation but no one more than Jun Saunders, raised in the Elizabeth Saunders Home. In this presentation, I examine Sain wa V! in order to understand how the textual and visual form of a manga allows its readers to conjure a representation of mixed-race children in post-World War II Japan with both words and images. In particular, I argue that the visual representation of a mixed-race black child in this manga depicts how racial injury must be reduced in order to privilege national identity. The representation of these children bears upon wider theoretical discussions that highlight the role of the individual’s identity formation in relation with their disconnection and estrangement from national identities, such as those presented at the Olympics.

"A Legend of Regret: Fallen Kingdoms and Postcolonial Ghosts in Twilight Princess,” Kathryn Hemmann

  • In the standard video game narrative, an anonymous hero is chosen by destiny to fight a great evil or right a grievous wrong, gradually growing stronger and marshalling allies in preparation for a final battle that will restore order to the political and natural environments. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, released by Nintendo for the Wii home console in 2006, seems to be a reiteration of this heroic narrative, with its teenage protagonist overcoming an escalating series of trials in order to rescue a beautiful princess and save her kingdom from hostile invaders. The game begins with an elegiac meditation on the twilight that heralds the setting sun, however, and it ends with a tearful parting. Ephemerality and loss are the major themes of Twilight Princess, a fact that betrays a startling subtext regarding the motivations of its villains. The kingdom of Hyrule, which a young man named Link is tasked with saving, is presented as both postapocalyptic and postcolonial, with the ruins of former conquered civilizations dotting the landscape. The villains of Twilight Princess, Ganondorf and Zant, both hail from minority groups that were marginalized and persecuted by the dominant culture of Hyrule, and their attack on the kingdom is propelled by a desire to rectify ancient injustices. Although Link is forced by the heroic narrative that guides him to battle these postcolonial ghosts, their defeat is not celebrated at the end of the game. I therefore argue that Twilight Princess delivers a subtle yet poignant protest against neoliberal discourses of empire reflected in the rhetoric of heroism informing the interlinked geopolitical movements of Japan and the United States throughout the twentieth century, in which the glorified actions of postcolonial nations have resulted in tragedy and regret.