Portraits of Japanese culture in "Souvenir of Japan" and "Lost in Translation" (deadline: 11/5, 12 p.m.)

In Sophia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation,the situation of two outsiders plunged into an alien Japanese culture is vividly depicted. In Angela Carter's "A Souvenir of Japan," although the narrator does not need translation and seems to be more savvy about Japanese customs and rituals than the protagonists in Lost in Translation, she is equally tormented by loneliness and alienation.

While the former is set in the 2003 Tokyo, the latter is set in the same city of the 1970s. In both portraits of Japanese culture (the one American, while the other British), can you find similarities or parallel traits? How are Japanese people different (or similiar) in these two cultural texts and their representations?


What's so bad about assumptions? (deadline: 10/22, 12 p.m.)

In "Our Friend Judith," Doris Lessing makes us see how limited those stereotypical assumptions could be if we apply them to understand Judith, who is in fact a complicated character and differs from the idea of "spinster" assumed by people who deem the unmarried status as a kind of abnormality. You have the following two options to answer my question:
1) From the story, we know that it is not good to assume anything about anyone but we all do it and sometimes when people make assumptions they tend to harbor wrong thoughts in their minds or even to say rude comments. Therefore in our society we have so many prejudices, bigotries, discrimations based on wrong assumptions about people of different (racial, class, gender, sexual orientation, marital) status. Can you come up with any concrete examples?

2) Do people make assumptions about you based on certain "stereotypes"? What is it poeple think about you that is completely false?


"Flappers" and the Roaring 1920s (deadline: 10/12, 12p.m.)

In today's class, we talked about Hemingway's "Hills like White Elephants" and its historical setting; popular terms like "flappers," "hedonism," and the lifestyles of aimlessness of the post-WWI "lost generation" of American expatriates in Europe, epitomize the spirit of the 1920s. It is an era of rapid social change. In the United States, women were finally allowed to vote in 1920. In France, designer Coco Chanel created the more carefree and sporty style and liberated women from the fussy and overdone clothing of the Victorian era. She also adopted male fashions--short hair, ties, collars, long tailor-cut jackets, pajamas--to create a boyish look. Chanel's style is usually associated with the image of the "flapper," a new generation of young women who, unlike their Victorian predecessors who had been restricted within the domestic realm, were capable, adventurous, independent. A looser, more casual style of clothing and short hair allowed women to play sports and to enjoy a great measure of mobility and independence. The flappers demonstrated their independence through new looks and attitude, such as short skirts and haircuts, openly using cosmetics, and being seen to smoke and drink cocktails.

In the enclosed video clip, you can see the flappers, their anti-traditional attitude and modern looks. How can all this relate to the character "Jig" in Hemingway's story? After viewing this video, can you have a more concrete image of Jig? In the story itself, what aspects demonstrate Jig's character as a "flapper"?