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OCT 9: Coronavirus as a Metaphor in Japanese COVID Literature

September 26, 2023

Join us via Zoom for a talk with Dr. Mina Qiao of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies about the meanings behind coronavirus narratives taking us back, not forward. Rather than “neo-” or new, a “re-”returning to the past, revealing existing problems, and reclaiming memories lost and lessons forgotten. In her 2021 short story collection Unsocial Distance, Japanese author and poet Kanehara Hitomi returns to an earlier motif of rebellion against social norms through individual bodily practices. Especially in the age of lockdown, quarantine, and other government-implemented spatial restrictions, her characters cultivate their own space in an escapist attempt. Through unhealthy eating habits, abortion, and non-reproductive sex, her characters self-marginalize to evade socialization into a system of (re)productive labor. The coronavirus is a metaphor for a social structure from which individuals are unable to break free, extending a sociopolitical stance consistent with Kanehara’s representations of the Japanese society.

Event Information and ZOOM link