Looking for discussants: Osaka on 22 November, "How did 1950s Hollywood films represent Japanese American soldiers on the Korean battlefield?"

Yone Sugita's picture

Dear Colleagues:


We ae looking for discussants for the session "How did 1950s Hollywood films represent Japanese American soldiers on the Korean battlefield?"  If you are willing to do this, please contact me:

Yone Sugita  sugita@lang.osaka-u.ac.jp


American Studies Seminar at Osaka University
Date: 22 November 2015(Sunday)
Venue: Seminar Room #2, Student Commons, Toyonaka Campus,
Osaka University (http://www.celas.osaka-u.ac.jp/s_c/room)
http://www.celas.osaka-u.ac.jp/files/top_data/accessmap.png (campus map: #7)
http://www.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/access/index.html#toyonaka (access map)

Session 1:13:00 - 14:30
Professor Miyuki Daimaruya, Project Research Fellow (Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University)

Title: How did 1950s Hollywood films represent Japanese American
soldiers on the Korean battlefield?

Abstract: This paper discusses representations of Japanese American
soldiers during the Korean War (1950-1953) in Hollywood films. Today, it
is estimated that 5,000-6,000 Japanese American Nisei (the second
generation of Japanese) men served in the Korean War, and they
integrated into multi-racial units from this period. However, compared
with the recent popularity and reputations within the U.S. for racially
segregated units who fought during World War II, such as the United
States Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the presence of Japanese
American soldiers in Korea has been ignored by American history and the
public for a long time. In order to understand their cultural images in
the 1950s, the paper analyzes two popular Hollywood films: Steel Helmet
(1951) and Pork Chop Hill (1957). Both films cast Japanese American
figures as important sub-characters. These characters appear as brave
male combat soldiers on the battlefield, and they perform as the “good
buddies” of the white male American main characters, rather than any
other minority soldiers, such as African Americans. Yet the service
population of Asian Americans was less than 1% of the U.S. military
during this period, and Japanese Americans were a very small population
in fact. Why did they appear in these films as idealistic minority
soldiers on the battlefield? Through the analysis of films, the paper
tries to reveal how figures of Japanese American soldiers in Korea were
favorable for the U.S. government of the same period because they showed
that the former U.S. enemies had now transformed into loyal US
citizen-soldiers and further, their equal treatment in the military
helped to demonstrate U.S. supremacy under the Cold War system.

Discussants: TBA

Session 2: 14:45 - 16:15
Professor Shuichi Takebayashi, Adjunct Professor (Kobe University,
Doshisha University)

Title: Another Side of American Folk Music Revival: The Kingston Trio
and Authenticity in the post-WWII Period

Abstract: Amid the height of folk music revival movement in the late
1950s, in which some Americans found traditional folk songs a more
genuine musical style than the mainstream popular music, the Kingston
Trio made a debut from Capitol Records, claiming themselves as a folk
group. The Kingston Trio instantly rose to stardom with the single “Tom
Dooley” that reached number one on Billboard magazine. The Kinston Trio,
however, soon became the subject of criticism from the folk music
community because of the Kingston Trio’s “un-authentic” manner of
dealing with folk music materials.

This paper considers how the notion of authenticity that had long
defined folk music was transformed in the late 1950 and 1960s, by
looking at the career of the Kingston Trio. In the post-WWII period of
prosperity, the cultural meaning of authenticity was under
transformation. It was the Kingston Trio who most embodied this
transformation, stirring controversy about folk music’s authenticity.
Unlike traditional folk singers who, intentionally or not, made
themselves affiliated with leftist politics and hoped to be the
spokesmen for common Americans, the Kingston Trio aimed at providing the
urban, middle-class Americans with a postwar renovated version of folk
music and its fresh interpretation, blurring the political boundary. The
Kingston Trio’s folk music represented a significant cultural change in
the postwar American popular music.

Discussants: Professor Nanako Tatebayashi, Adjunct Professor (Kanagawa

17:00- Round Table over Supper

Yoneyuki Sugita <sugita@lang.osaka-u.ac.jp>

Keywords: film studies, WWII