Archive for June, 2008

So it has occurred to me, and numerous times at that, how what this project is not about is just as important as what this project is about. To that end, here’s what I’m not trying to do:

  • I am not trying to prove that all Japanese construct sexuality in the same way.
  • I am not assuming that English is “better” than Japanese.
  • I am not examining sexual behaviour as much as I am examining the connections between the presence of English in Japan and constructions/revelations of sexuality.
  • I am not assuming that Japanese consider, construct, or perform sexuality exactly as Americans do.
  • I am not assuming the presence of a queer “identity” in Japan, though I do believe that for some, this is actually a reality.
  • I am not using queer to reference hurtful or negative connotations, but rather, I am following Barbara Summerhawk and Judith Halberstam’s lead and learning from modern, academic queer theory that the word “queer” can reference any non-heteronormative expression, sexual or otherwise.
  • I am not attempting to continue imperialist, colonialist or hegemonic practices when it comes to the imposition of one language or culture over another. Rather, I’m curious about the ramifications of such phenomenon on human sexuality.
  • I am not a “straight-hater”, but I am omitting major discussions of heterosexuality in order to narrowly focus on a specific group of people and their social, linguistic, and sexual practices.
  • I am not interested in proving that a group of people all do one thing, or should do one thing, rather, I am trying to show how sociolinguistic practices, and ideas about specific sociocultural communities influence varieties of human behavior, especially around sexualities. As such, the results of this research will not be immediately generalizable to an entire population, but rather will illustrate how specific individuals are affected by linguistic practices and exposure.

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Learner, Teacher, Foreigner, Queer: A narrative examination of identity performance

The above is a manuscript I wrote as part of an identity course I participated in during my doctoral studies at IUP. The narrative used for consideration was published in the May, 2008 issue of ESL Magazine.

In asking my participants to consider their own voices and selves, I realize that it is useful for me to do the same. My thanks to professors David Hanauer and Sharon Deckert for guiding the ethnographic journeys during their courses.

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Here are the slides from my 2007 presentation for the Linguistics Colloquium at Simon Fraser University, an examination of linguistic research ad queer identities.

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JALT/JACET2008 Presentation

The above are the slides from my June presentation in Nagoya entitled “Synergistic Collaboration: Language teaching and the transmission of ideas about sexuality“. This presentation examines a hypothetical situation where the inclusion of queer sexuality in the EFL classroom in Japan becomes a point of conflict and opportunity for collaboration.

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Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally un-related. In order to be ‘synchronistic’, the events must be related to one another temporally, and the chance that they would occur together by random chance must be very small.” – Wikipedia

“Meaning is where you put it.” – Marlen

So last night I went to dinner with Denise. Before meeting her I sat on the corner of Karasuma Shijo and pondered a) why can’t I stop sweating? and b) will we be able to find something to talk about after all this time?

Silly me, a) I sweat therefore I am, and b) it’s Denise!

Needless to say, we had a wonderful dinner and Denise’s energy and creativity always inspire me. Moreover, it makes me happy, no, actually, it moves me when I find friends in calm, healthy places. But here’s the amazing part of the story, for truly, isn’t life a maze? And we never know who will be walking the same labyrinth…


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Boku no Tenjin

Two weeks ago I went to Gunma prefecture to present my manuscript about critical composition pedagogy and the power of “no”, the first time to present this manuscript to an audience. I like the term “audience” because to my surprise, about half of the presentation turned out to be a performance (but really, aren’t they all?).

What I didn’t expect while discussing the power of “no” was that there would be an angel present who would say “yes”.

Having never met Michele before, there was a great space of unfamiliarity to cross. During the lunch that preceded the presentation, we got to know each other better and by the end of the day a warmth emanated from her gaze. During lunch I had mentioned Barbara Summerhawk’s collection of stories, Queer Japan, and to my surprise, Michele explained that she actually knew Barbara and would introduce my work to her.


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June Reflections

I started writing a post yesterday entitled “Headspin 2.0” because since arriving at the Tokyo airport, I feel like I’ve been all second glances and confusion…but it’s a happy yayakoshi yo!

I guess I have to start with Kamakura…You see, about 10 or so years ago I took an art therapy class at George Washington University in which one of my projects was to create an image of my adolescent ego ideal. Slightly unsure of what exactly I wanted to create, I found myself flipping through a Conde Nast Traveler one evening and settling on the image of a large, weathered buddha.

Why buddha? Easy enough question to answer, but for that, I have to go back even farther.

I’m not entirely sure what originally brought me to Buddhism (using a capital “B” here seems slightly incorrect), but I remember being about 13 or 14 and reading Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, a book which made great sense to me. I know that I then re-read it a couple of times and even bought a copy for my friend Alyson – I wanted everyone close to me to experience the same sense of enjoyment from Hesse’s story…if I remember correctly, my enthusiasm even brought the book to my mother’s eyes, though I am certain she had already read it once herself. Anyhow, around the same time, I also picked up a collection of writing by Lao Tzu, a little book entitled “Tao Te Ching”. Something was compelling me to look East.


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