Transcribed stories about post-war Japan shared in Ron Loftus' book

by University Communications,

Ron Loftus, professor of Japanese studies at Willamette University, published a new book detailing the lives of women in post-war Japan.

“Changing Lives: The ‘Postwar” in Japanese Women’s Autobiographies and Memoirs,” presents translations from memoirs and autobiographies by Japanese women.

The women who appear in the book are far from household names, even in Japan. They include Okabe Itsuko, a nonfiction writer and cultural critic; Shinya Eikô, a stage and screen actress; and Yoshitake Teruko, an activist and historian.

Jan Bardsley, an associate professor of Japanese humanities at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says Loftus’ translations give an “immediate and vibrant sense of life in postwar Japan.”

“‘Changing Lives’ reveals how women came to terms with war, defeat and occupation, and their determined struggles against persistent gender inequality,” she says.

“Loftus situates each memoir within the author’s life, the women’s movement, and the broader history of post-war Japan. Above all, ‘Changing Lives’ offers portraits of courage and stubborn resilience. It is a book that will inspire students and instructors alike.”

Students in Loftus’ history class, "Postwar Japan: Protests and Feminisms," are reading the book. Research for “Changing Lives” was funded in by the Center for Asian Studies, which Loftus directs.

Loftus’ first book, “Telling Lives: Women's Self-Writing in Modern Japan” was published in 2004 and won a prize from the Western Association of Women Historians in 2006 for the Best Book on Women’s Autobiography.