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  • In Her Footsteps:The Legacy of Professor Mizuta Noriko
  • Linda Flores (bio)

This special issue of the Review of Japanese Culture and Society is dedicated to the life and works of Mizuta Noriko, renowned professor, university chancellor, author, poet, essayist, activist, and mentor. "Mizuta-sensei," as she is affectionately known, has paved the way for generations of scholars in the fields of Literature—especially women's writing—Women's Studies, and Gender Studies. In this issue we invite readers to journey through some of Mizuta's most influential works, navigating the steps of a woman who has inspired so many over the course of a truly pioneering career. The Japanese title of one of her articles translated here aptly illustrates our objective in presenting the pieces included herein. Characteristic of her scholarship on women's writing, it is titled "When Women Narrate the Self: Personal Narratives in Modern Women's Literature" (Josei ga jiko o kataru toki—kindai josei bungaku to "jiko gatari" no kiseki). The word kiseki (軌跡) can be defined as either the "path one has taken" or as "traces, footprints left behind." The first character, "ki" (軌), can refer to a "model" or "way of doing something," while the second, "seki" (跡), connotes "footsteps" or "marks."

This issue, guest edited by myself and Julia Bullock and carefully and painstakingly shepherded from start to completion by Review of Japanese Culture and Society editor Miya Elise Desjardins, encompasses both meanings of kiseki. First, the works offer a detailed "model," following the trajectory of Mizuta's intellectual and professional path through Section Editor Alisa Freedman's essay, "Mizuta Noriko: Biocritical Essay of a Literary Feminist and Global Scholar." The essay provides rare insight into Mizuta's life and career—the experiences, opportunities, and challenges that molded and shaped her both personally and professionally. Distinguished professor of English, Gender, and Cultural Studies E. Ann Kaplan offers her recollections of Mizuta and emphasizes the breadth and depth of her achievements in her introductory essay. Mizuta's influence is such that one wonders what the intellectual landscape of Women's Studies would look [End Page 1] like without her, a question prominent sociologist and scholar of Women's Studies Ueno Chizuko poses in her essay on Mizuta.

Secondly, the special issue offers a glimpse into the "footprints," or intellectual traces, of Mizuta's impressive body of scholarship. This includes reprints of some of her best-known English-language scholarship on work by writers both east and west. She addresses the literary figure of the "madwoman in the attic" in her piece "Feminine Failure and the Modern Hero: Mad Women in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays." She has also written widely on important Japanese women writers, exemplified by two works in this issue, "Literature, Ideology, and Women's Happiness: The Autobiographical Novels of Miyamoto Yuriko" and "Women's Self-Representation and Transformation of the Body: Kōno Taeko and Ogawa Yōko." The section on Mizuta's English-language scholarship also covers her work on comparative literature, such as "Natsume Sōseki on Poe," as well as her English translations and literary analyses of the works of modern Japanese poets in "Beyond Home and City: Poems by Ishigaki Rin and Shiraishi Kazuko." Poetry constitutes an important element in Mizuta's career, both as an object of critical investigation and as a creative endeavor. Scholar and poet Jordan Smith served as Section Editor for Part IV of this special issue, and in his contribution on Mizuta's own poetic works, he describes how her influence on him, as for many others, has been transformational.

Mizuta has also made her mark, so to speak, in the fields of gender theory and literary studies in both English and Japanese, and this special issue includes translations of some of her most noteworthy Japanese scholarly articles, available in the English language for the first time. The topics of female expression and representations of women constitute some of the most important themes in Mizuta's Japanese scholarship. She has explored the use of trauma fiction in literature about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in her article "Urashimasō: Memory as Trauma and...


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