MJHW (Online Meeting) on Dvořák and Anime - Friday, November 13th

Joelle Nazzicone Discussion

Please join us for the next meeting of the Modern Japan History Workshop on Friday, November 13th at 6 pm JST.  Our presenter this month will be Heike Hoffer (The Ohio State University), who will present her work on Dvořák and anime (details below).

This month’s session will be held online through ZOOM, and can be accessed using the following sign-in information:

Meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/98447556374

The password for the meeting will be posted at the top of the MJHW website from November 9th onwards.

The workshop is open to all, and no prior registration is required.

Please direct any questions to Joelle Tapas at tapas@fas.harvard.edu.  We hope to see you there!


家路 (The Way Home): Dvořák’s New World Symphony in Animated Visions of the Japanese Furusato

Heike Hoffer, The Ohio State University

In every country, certain musical works engrain themselves in the aural and cultural landscape, forming an integral part of daily life. For modern Japan, one such piece is the evocative Largo movement of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, a work composed in 1893 when Dvořák was Director of the National Conservatory in New York. The symphony was inspired by Dvořák’s fascination with American Indian and African American songs, but was equally a reflection of his deep longing for his homeland of Bohemia, sentiments that were magnified when the Largo melody became the basis for the popular song “Goin’ Home” in 1922. The Largo found its way to Japan in school songbooks as the stylized folk tune “Ieji” (The Way Home) with a text by Horiuchi Keizō glorifying the Japanese furusato, an idealized hometown embodying a spiritual location of compassion, comfort, and security. “Ieji” contained what scholar David Hughes terms the “rural resonances” of the furusato, prompting many municipal governments to select the tune to be played during the daily evening chime sounded through their community’s emergency response loudspeakers. Anime often include this sonic representation of hearth and home in their narratives, with “Ieji” playing during idyllic scenes of students heading home at the end of the school day. Simultaneously, anime series such as Cross Ange, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Shin Sekai Yori subvert this aural image to highlight negative narrative events including discrimination, violence, and the end of innocence, drawing attention to these damaging circumstances through their stark contrast to music symbolizing warmth and unconditional acceptance.