Talk to explore Japanese activist's anti-nuclear speeches

December 01, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- At 12:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Margherita Long, associate professor of Japanese and comparative literature at the University of California, Riverside, will present “On Affect and Articulation: Reading Ōe Kenzaburō’s Anti-Nuclear Speeches,” in Room 102 of the Kern Building.

Students of modern Japanese thought tend to have deep respect for the political activism of Nobel literature laureate Ōe Kenzaburo. As a tireless advocate for the no-war clause in Japan’s post-war constitution, and a convener of the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear group Sayonara Genpatsu, Ōe has a powerful oeuvre of speeches and essays in defense of democracy, peace and environmentalism. Yet even if we agree with these writings conceptually, emotionally they disappoint. Why is it so hard to like them? This talk uses Eve Sedgwick’s notions of “paranoid” and “reparative” critical strategies to consider Ōe’s anti-nuclear humanism as a kind of “aggressive hypothesis” – elegant in its simplicity but ultimately tautological, with too few lines of flight outside a rigid temporality of repeated injury. 

Mimi Long is associate professor of Japanese and comparative literature at the University of California, Riverside. Her book "This Perversion Called Love: Reading Tanizaki, Feminist Theory and Freud" was published by Stanford in 2009. Her current project is an eco-humanities look at public intellectuals in Japan and the 3.11 nuclear disaster. Titled "Force, Affect, Origin: On Being Worthy of the Event," the book features recent work by manga artist Hagio Moto, filmmaker Kamanaka Hitomi, Web activist Iwakami Yasumi, political scientist Kang Sangjung and writer Ōe Kenzaburo, among others.

This event is a part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon lecture series, a weekly, informal lunchtime gathering of students, faculty and other members of the University community. Each week the event begins at 12:15 p.m. – participants are encouraged to bring lunch; coffee and tea are free. At 12:30 p.m. there will be a 20-minute presentation, by a visitor or a local speaker, on a topic related to any humanities discipline. All students, faculty, colleagues and friends are welcome. Jon Abel ( and Shuang Shen ( are coordinators for the series. For a full list of Comparative Literature lunches, visit

Last Updated January 09, 2015