Literary event tonight to engage students

Shrine Cartoon


WKU Libraries will be hosting another “Far Away Places with Strange Sounding Names” event this evening.

University of Kentucky associate professor Akiko Takenaka will speak about her recently released study “Yasukuni Shrine: History, Memory, and Japan’s Unending Postwar.”

“These presentations are always interesting,” said Daniel Peach, the library facilities coordinator. “Even if the topic seems like something I wouldn’t be interested in, the speaker always puts an interesting twist on it.”

Ryan Dowell, library assistant for the department of library public services, said the methods used and theories examined in Takenaka’s research provide an interdisciplinary focus.

“The philosophical theories and research methods involved here are really inter-disciplinary in scope,” Dowell said in an email. “This event could be of interest to everyone in the campus community.”

The book delves into the history and evolution of the Shinto shrine’s role in Japan as well as the controversy it has posed its home country as well as Asia and the international community. The Yasukuni Shrine as a war memorial houses and honors Japanese World War II veterans, including some of the country’s most infamous war criminals.

“The book explores this controversy, society’s reflection of the Shrine and the role of the Japanese government in regards to the enshrinement of the war dead,” said Dowell in an email.

Takenaka moved from Japan to the United States at age 9. She earned her undergraduate degree from a college in Tokyo, received her master’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then earned her doctorate from Yale University.

“Takenaka’s research pertains to a growing trend in the history discipline,” Dowell said in an email. “The study of social and cultural history and memory studies is increasingly popular, going beyond dates and facts about what happened in history or the biography of famous people to incorporate the narratives of average people.”

The Far Away Places series has been at WKU since 2000 and consists of six or more events each school year.

“Far Away Places handles a wide range of topics and brings in some very notable speakers,” Dowell said in an email.

Next semester, faculty from WKU, UK and Vanderbilt University will give talks focusing on topics relating to Kurdistan, Iceland and China.

“I enjoy these events because it’s nice to step outside of your comfort zone and what you normally hear about all of the time,” Peach said.

It is a free and swipeable event for students and typically includes a book signing. There are drawings for door prizes, one of which is a copy of the speaker’s book.

Tonight’s talk will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble located on Campbell Lane.