Susan Furukawa

Academic Specialties and Other Interests

I’m a literature scholar who focuses on historical narratives and popular culture in Japan. My research interests include Japanese history, national identity in 20th-century Japan, modern literature, gender, popular culture, and media studies. I teach in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, but my courses are often cross-listed with Critical Identity Studies, Media Studies, and Environmental Studies. In my classes, we look at how the narratives people create are subject to cultural, historical, and sociopolitical influences and examine the ways in which language and stories are often used to curate our understanding of the environment and the world.

I’m from a small town in southeastern Indiana where there were no real stores, very few restaurants, and even fewer people who weren’t just like me. I am grateful for the connection to place and people that comes from growing up in a small town, but I am even more grateful that my life there compelled me to seek out a world that was much different than what I knew. That is what led me to Japan and the study of Japanese. Since leaving my hometown, I’ve lived in and/or traveled all over the world, but I feel the most content in the mountains of rural Japan.

What I love about teaching at Beloit is that faculty are free to create innovative courses that help students develop incredible skills they can carry with them well beyond their time here. Beloit students are interested and interesting learners in every sense of the word, so they bring a lot to the classroom. When I am not working, I love watching and playing sports, hiking, and camping. I also really love playing board games and hanging out with my kids who have somehow inherited a quirky combination of their parents’ senses of humor, making for hilarious game nights at our house.

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