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The Global Studies Seminar presents “The Image of the Imperial Female Traveler in the Japanese Colonial Journal Taiwan Women’s World” by Visiting Assistant Professor Anne Sokolsky.
“Travel” can evoke a variety of images from luxurious freedom to forced migration. The luxurious side of this imagery is dependent on racial, economic, and even gendered factors. During the era of European and British colonialism, Gertrude Bell, Freya Stark, and Isabella Bird became famous as female adventurers and travel writers, who, due to their racial and economic privilege, ventured through the colonized spaces of the Middle East and Asia. By doing so, they defied the Victorian era strictures of proper female behavior. What about women of Imperial Japan? How does this idea of female colonial travel play out when we consider the dynamics of Japan’s empire? What role did the Japanese woman travel writer play in the larger political landscape of Imperial Japan? In this presentation, Sokolsky will discuss one of the few extant records from the period of Japan’s rule of Taiwan (1895-1945) on what life was like for women living in a colonial regime. The source is Taiwan fujinkai (台湾婦人界Taiwan women’s world), which, published from 1934-1939, was Taiwan’s only commercial women’s journal written in Japanese. Sokolsky will discuss the varying images of the Japanese imperial female travel writer that appear in this journal and how such variations reveal a shift in attitude on the part of Japan’s colonial government about the role women’s travel writing should play in Japanese international politics.
Sokolsky received her Doctor of Philosophy in Japanese Literature and Gender Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her book “From New Woman Writer to Socialist: The Life and Selected Writings of Tamura Toshiko from 1936–1938” is about one of Japan’s early modern feminist writers who spent two decades living in North America in the 1920s and 1930s, and Japanese occupied Shanghai in the 1940s. Sokolsky just returned from a semester in the Netherlands where she held the endowed Chair of Taiwan Studies at the International Institute for Asian Studies at Leiden University. Other research projects include the translation of Shigemitsu Mamoru’s Sugamo prison diary. Prior to Denison University, Sokolsky taught at Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was Professor and Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature. Sokolsky is also the literature editor for the Journal of Japanese Language and Literature.