Hiromi Ochi (Senshu University)


Hiromi OCHI is Professor at Senshu University, Tokyo, Japan. Her publications include: The Southern Moment of Modernism: Southern Poets and Cold War (Kenkyusha, 2012, in Japanese), “Translations of American Cultural Politics into the Context of Post War Japan” in Routledge Companion to Transnational American Studies edited by Nina Morgan, Alfred Hornung and Takayuki Tatsumi (2019), and “The Distribution and Reception of American Literature in Cold War Japan,” Greg Barnhisel, ed., The Bloomsbury Handbook to Cold War Literary Cultures (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022), 562-596. Her current project focuses on “book women” and their agency in Cold War cultural politics.


The Uses of Faulkner: A Modernist and A Southerner

This paper explicates the institutionalization of American Modernism through libraries and seminars in Japan during and after the American-led Occupation, and how that move culminated in Faulkner’s visit to Japan, clinching the centrality of literary modernism. The institutionalization of American literature was an integral part of post-war cultural politics mainly conducted by the United States, first through the GHQ/SCAP (General Headquarters, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers) and after the occupation through the United States Information Agency. The selection of books and journals in the CEO libraries (later American Centers), translation of canonical literary works, historical texts and introductory books, and the American Studies Seminars modeled after Salzburg Seminar functioned as concerted efforts to introduce modernism and New Criticism.

Faulkner was introduced to Japanese literary field as a must-read modernist author, a figure that embodied the idea of modern American literature. When he visited Japan as a literary ambassador, he also presented himself as a person who could share the experience of defeat with Japanese people. This imaginary connection was already forged by the southern historian C. Vann Woodward at the Stanford-Tokyo American Studies Seminar in 1953. Together with the popular film Gone with the Wind, in both the popular and scholarly imagination, Faulkner and the American South represented defeat, facilitating construction of emotional alliance between the U.S. South and Japan despite asymmetrical balance of power.