Nobel Authors in the Literature Classroom: 2017 Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro and the Case for Conscious Empathy

Abstract

Many years before the Swedish Academy honored Japanese-born, British-educated writer Kazuo Ishiguro with the Nobel Prize in Literature for his resilient works about the human spirit, the author said, “I feel I am part of that generation for whom making something good out of your life, morally good, was a very conscious thing.” I have published on Ishiguro and his works for over 20 years, and I interviewed Ishiguro twice (2000 and 2006). I can attest to the “ethics of empathy” he creates in his fiction to broaden cultural understanding and communication. Critics note, “[Ishiguro is able to] make us care about the world, about other people, about ourselves.” We may discover in literary fiction ways to explore our human condition, recognize suffering, and find ways to be allies to one another in times of change and instability. I advocate for the teaching of Nobel authors in the literature classroom—particularly focusing on Japanese-origin laureates such as Ishiguro, Oe Kenzaburo, and Kawabata Yasunari for this presentation. I will discuss how their books create wider communities of kinship and induct readers to bear witness to human experiences through literature. Indeed, these laureates fulfill Alfred Nobel’s legacy that literature can bestow “the greatest benefit to mankind.” In particular, I will interpret the Academy’s accolade for Ishiguro, “who in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”



Author Information
Cynthia Wong, University of Colorado Denver, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2018
Stream: Education for intercultural communication

This paper is part of the ACEID2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by amp21