Departmental Bulletin Paper Humanities is Dead as Rock is Dead : Death of an Experimental University

UENO, Toshiya

This paper was the featured panel in the annual conference for Association for Japanese Literary Studies (AJLS) at Chicago University in 2013. The panel was organized by Michael Bourdaghs, the professor on Japanese literature and pop-cultures at University of Chicago. The focus was on two musicians: Hayakawa Yoshio(早川義夫)and Masahide Sakuma(佐久間正英), their band, Ces Chiens, held a live concert after the panel. Both famous musicians were students of Wako University in the early days. Unfortunately Sakuma (one of my rock heroes in my teen years, the mid of 1970's) was struggling with the serious stage of cancer which showed in his performances at the gig (Sadly he passed away in January 2014). Side by side with two legendary musicians from Wako in the panel, my paper drew on a brief historical retrospection and some critical remarks of the recent situation of Wako University. The intention of this essay is not romanticizing or idealizing nostalgically some moments of Wako. Rather, indeed, the paper would explore critically why and how the interesting and radical attempts in the past has been smashed away or even repressed under the name of 'normalization', which is certainly a bi-lateral result of neo-liberal reformation of higher education system in Japan since the decade. The banalization of Wako can be posited along with the degradation and crisis of humanities in general. This essay doesn't contend to go back to customs and methods in the past, but rather engages with opening the new potentiality and imagination for the ruined Wako.

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