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Presentation at EAJRS

The Prange Collection Curator, Yukako Tatsumi, gave a presentation at the annual conference of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS), which was held in the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leuven, Belgium, September 17-20.  The title of her presentation was, “Transcending Occupation Censorship Studies: Scholarly Progress and Evolution of Access to the Gordon W. Prange Collection Materials.”  Her PowerPoint presentation is below.

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A Talk by Dr. Emer O’Dwyer (Oberlin College)

BLOG_O'Dwyer talk_flyerDr. Emer O’Dwyer, Assistant Professor, Oberlin College and recipient of a 20th Century Japan Research Award, will give a talk in 2120 Francis Scott Key Building, University of Maryland on Thursday, October 23 at 12:00pm.  The title of her talk is “Exposed!: “Disclosure Magazines” in Post-Surrender Japan.”

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Maryland Libraries and the Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies. The event is free and open to  the public. Please RSVP to millercenter@umd.edu.

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Censored Children’s Books

Children’s books were also censored by the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD).   Although a majority of the censored children’s books are story books (yomimono), a handful of picture books (ehon) and comics (manga) were also censored. Unlike the Prange magazines and newspapers, there is little censorship documentation about the books.  One can only speculate why censorship action was taken.

Below are some examples of censored children’s books. For two of the titles, we have included the galley proof and the published version.

Currently, 43 censored children’s books are  available in the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection. They can be located by doing an Advanced Search and selecting Censorship Action, “Yes”.

Please note that due to copyright restrictions, full-text access is limited to the University of Maryland, College Park campus or onsite at the National Diet Library of Japan.  Bibliographic information for each book, as well as a thumbnail of the cover, is available online.

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Call for Applications: 20th Century Japan Research Awards, 2014-2015

The Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies and the University of Maryland Libraries invite applications for two $1,500 grants to support research in the library’s Gordon W. Prange Collection and East Asia Collection on topics related to the period of the Allied Occupation of Japan and its aftermath, 1945-1960.  Holders of the Ph.D. or an equivalent degree are eligible to apply, as are graduate students who have completed all requirements for the doctorate except the dissertation. The competition is open to scholars in all parts of the world and from any discipline, but historical topics are preferred. University of Maryland faculty, staff, and students may not apply.

The application deadline is November 21, 2014.  The grant must be used by October 30, 2015.

For more information about the Award, please see this page.

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National Comic Book Day!

BLOG_ComicsSeptember 25th is National Comic Book Day!  It’s a great opportunity for us to bring the 2,000 comic books in the Prange Collection to your attention.  They have all been digitized and are available in the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection (please note that due to copyright restrictions, full-text access is limited to the University of Maryland, College Park campus or onsite at the National Diet Library of Japan).

In the Collection, you will find familiar titles, such as:

  • Metoro porisu ” by Tezuka Osamu (Prange Call Number: 466-064)
  • Norakuro sannintabi”  by Tagawa Suiho (Prange Call Number: 475-071)
  • Sazaesan” by Hasegawa Machiko  (Prange Call Number: 461-002)

See this blog post for the recent discovery of a comic book written by Komatsu Sakyo, a well-known science fiction writer, in the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection.   The discovery made national news in Japan.

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Publication: Censorship, Media and Literary Culture in Japan: From Edo to Postwar

BLOG_Censorship, Media and Literary Culture in Japan“Censorship, Media and Literary Culture in Japan (Suzuki, Tomi. 2012.Tōkyō: Shin’yōsha.)

This English-Japanese bilingual book illuminates the intersection between censorship systems and an array of artistic expression and media from the Edo period to postwar Japan.  It consists of three sections: print culture, literature, and popular media.

Prange materials were analyzed extensively in several chapters in the Literature section, which compares and contrasts the prewar/wartime Home Ministry’s censorship and the Occupation censorship system.   The Popular Media section also includes a chapter that examines Prange materials.  It explores a number of censored  poems found in Prange Collection magazines.  Poetry is one of the forms of artistic expression that is often overlooked by Occupation censorship scholars, in contrast to other art forms, such as fiction, drama, and film.  The research in this book demonstrates that Prange materials highlight the historical transformation and continuity across Japanese pre-modern and modern censorship history and expand the scope of scholarly focuses on a variety of literary forms  in Occupied Japan.

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Censored Music is the topic of a Master’s Thesis

Nathanial L Gailey-Schiltz, a graduate student in the UMD’s Ethnomusicology program, chose the Prange Collection’s music-related materials as a topic for his Master’s thesis. His thesis can be found  (full text) in the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).  Below, Gailey-Schiltz discusses the music materials in the Prange Collection.  

“One part of the Gordon W. Prange Collection that might be easy to overlook is its extensive musical material holdings.  There are close to 15,000 individual items categorized by Prange Collection staff as either music literature or various collections of sheet music or music instructional materials.  It is this collection that I, a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s Ethnomusicology program, decided to explore for my Master’s degree research.  The process has been a challenging and fulfilling one, and has given me a chance to not only embark on some truly unique research, but also to reach outside of the School of Music and make ties with colleagues across campus.

The music materials in the Prange Collection encompass a wide range of subjects and styles.  As a player of the koto (琴, a 13-stringed zither) as part of the University of Maryland’s Koto Ensemble, I was first introduced to the collection’s numerous koto scores.  There are over seventy pieces of koto music by composers such as Miyagi Michio (宮城 道雄), who in the early twentieth century revolutionized koto tradition through innovations in instrument construction and song style.  Apart from notation for the koto, there are pieces for the shakuhachi (尺八, a bamboo flute), scores for nagauta (長唄, the music of kabuki theatre), and folk songs.


One example of Prange holding materials : MT-2682 “Uta no Hanataba “

For my own research, however, I decided to focus on the less traditional materials in the collection.  By the time of the Occupation, Western-style music had been present in Japan in one form or another for the better part of a century.  Starting with military marching band music, European and American music styles like classical art music, Tin Pan Alley, and swing all found play in Japan and influenced Japanese music-makers.

A style of music called ryūkōka (流行歌), later known as kayōkyoku (歌謡曲), and a precursor to today’s karaoke favorite, enka (演歌), formed from around the 1920s.  Its production and popularity were intricately bound up with the emergence of a number of related phenomena that occurred during the same time period: consumer culture, an empowered middle class, the recording industry, and the commodification of music.  It would go on to be bound up with the film industry, so that through the 1930s and ’40s movies, title themes songs, and recordings of those songs became big business.


Ryukoka example: Prange Call Number: MT-2820 “Aishosuru ryukoka uta no hanakago”

There was also a market for sheet music to hit songs, so that consumers could learn their favorite songs and emulate the talents of their favorite film stars.  A collection of publishing houses devoted to music publishing cropped up to cater to that market.  Two main broad categories of publications of ryūkōka were popular by the Occupation era: small (what I call “pocket”) collections of lyrics to hit songs, which may or may not have any music notation; and sheet music for individual songs.  Music notation is predominantly in typical staff notation for voice and piano, reflecting that by that point in history, the piano had become the ubiquitous household musical instrument—just like in Europe and the U.S.—supplanting instruments like the koto.

Example of music note that received a censorship action.  Prange Call Number: MT-2734 "Kayo Gakufu"

Example of music note that received a censorship action. Prange Call Number: MT-2734 “Kayo Gakufu”

The ryūkōka in the Prange Collection reflect Occupation censorship and the negotiation of power between publishers and censors just as newspapers and magazines do.  For example, censors disapproved of published songs that were overly fervent in nationalist sentiment, had a sense of militarism, or espoused Japan’s presence in other nations in Southeast Asia and the South Seas.  The majority of items in the collection did not have actions taken, but still provide a valuable window into the popular discourse of the time.  Popular subjects ranged from melancholy topics (like rain, tears, and departing home) to romance (like love, roses, and “the girl from ___” formula) and the lighthearted (like boogie-woogie, shopping, and the big city).

Again, this is all just in one part of the Prange Collection’s music section.  There is much left to be explored!”


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