Two Professors who have changed my Life

November 8, 2017

Cologne, Germany

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So this morning I was thinking about one thing: how do I become a Ph.D. student whose main focus is American Literature?

When I thought about this, two people popped out directly in my mind: professor Shimotori and professor Kate Rigby.

Without professor Shimotori, I would not have chosen to study British Literature for my undergraduate course. My first encounter with Shimotori can be traced back to 2012, when I was in my second year at Fukushima University, without knowing what I was going to study as my major. It was a coincidence that I ended out studying British literature. If I had not met Mr. Shimotori in that class and listened to his lecture about ancient human’s bisexuality, I would not have fallen into the subject of gender and sexuality, and of course, under his influence, into British literature. Through encountering with British literature, I become familiar with Oscar Wilde’s Salome and The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ian McEwan’s First Love, Last Rites, George Oswell’s Animal Farm, Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, The Adventures of Olivia Twist and A Chrismas Carol, E. M. Foster’s “The Life to Come”, Roald Darl’s dark humour children stories, D. H. Lawrance’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Sons and Lovers, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and so forth. I enjoyed reading those novels as they showed me multi-perspectives of the European/Western reality and fantasy at that time. I found out that what is more interesting than reading the text is when you try to interpret the text in a reasonable sense. This can be very challenging but because of that, I become more motivated. I realize that what I learn the most is through the process of meaning-making. During this process, the most exciting moment is that when you come out with a new insight. Overall, writing a literature criticism is like giving birth to a baby: you might feel frustrated, excited, motivated, bored, annoyed and so forth. But when your creation is done, you will feel so relieved and satisfied. Newborn baby: hot and fresh!!

If it was not Mr. Shimotori who suggested me to apply for Osaka University for a master course, I would not have become a student of Osaka University. I was so lucky that I met him one day before the deadline for the application and had him find told me that the application’s deadline was tomorrow! So I took a night bus and finished my essay for application on the bus and printed them out at the university and handed them in afterward. Thank god and thank you so much, Shimotori Sensei!

Now that I have changed my focus from British Literature to American Literature but still I am taking the class of Shimotori Sensei, only because I do enjoy taking his class. Shimotori Sensei always does his “homework,” in which he will provide us some additional information regarding the issue we are going to discuss on that day. Also, the way he explains things is very calm and not pushy. Instead of saying his own interpretation at first, he always asks about your opinion and then the others in order not to affect your viewpoint. I find this very liberal and thus I always can be myself in his class. This semester we are reading Ian McEwan’s Saturday, a psychological novel that can be linked to post 9/11. I wish to write a good paper after finishing the course. Ganbaru!

Another professor who has changed my life is prof. Kate Rigby. My first encounter with prof. Kate can be traced back to the fall of 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. I was having a two-month intensive English language course at Monash University. During my stay, I found out that prof. Kate was a specialist of ecofeminism and she was teaching at Monash University. I sent her an email and very soon, she accepted my request for an interview at her office. My first expression for her is that she is a very beautiful and well-educated person. She introduced me to the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ISLE) and explained to me the meaning of ecofeminism and further showed me some websites that are helpful in getting to know about the subject. So I joined the association when I got back to Japan. Then, in 2016, I participated the Symposium that was held by ISLE in Seoul, Korea. At the conference, I met prof. Kate the second time. At first, I was very suspicious because I was not sure if that was her due to her name card, it was written “U.K”, not Australia. I was thinking if I should talk to her and find out about it. I was so glad that it was HER! So once again, I asked her if there was a possibility to be her intern. Prof. Kate responded me via email regarding my request just a few days after the conference has finished. She was so fast! I was shocked by her quick management and her welcoming attitude toward me. Apparently, there are many kinds of professor around the world and no everyone will even response your email. I’m sure that I am the lucky one.

My third encounter with prof. Kate was in Bath, United Kingdom. The fact that we have met each other in different countries proved that this, is connection: something that we can’t really catch but it exists as a chain that binds us together. So when I arrived at Bath station on 5 August 2017, I saw prof. Kate was sitting in her car and waiting for me. We had a fine meal in a local cafe and after that, she showed me the way back to Bath Spa University, where I will be staying in the student accommodation for a week before moving to Green Park accommodation in the city.

The first week of my internship was totally fabulous. I participated the ACU summer school as a student ambassador and through encountering with many students who are from all over the world, I learned so much and made many new friends. From the second week I started focusing on my own paper and under her supervision, I found a new light: material feminisms. Karan Barah’s notion of “collective” and Donna Haraway’s semiotic theory are totally stimulating and very useful to interpret the text in Don DeLillo’s Zero K. Prof. Kate further introduced me a lot of useful and newest books regarding Environmental Humanities and after reading those inspiring and important theories, I decided to broaden the perspective of my P.h.D thesis from queer to Environmental Humanities, a multi-discipline field that includes ecofeminism, queer ecocriticism, material feminisms, posthumanism, animal studies, and so forth. My main goal is to analyze Hemingway’s text from the perspective of E.H. Fightto!

At last, what I want to emphasize here is that there are many people who affect my life each day but for those who have taught me about the knowledge of humanity, I have to show my appreciation and my grateful attitude through words. Thank you for embracing me.

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