Coming of Age Day — Today is Coming of Age Day in Japan. Celebrated on the second Monday in January, Coming of Age Day is a national holiday honoring all young adults who reach the age of 20 at any point during the year. In Japan, 20 is considered the age of majority, which means that young people gain the right to vote and drink alcoholic beverages on their 20th birthday. Throughout Japan, local governments hold a ceremony called Seijin-shiki on Coming of Age Day. During this ceremony, young people are introduced to the rights and responsibilities associated with adulthood.
Although the United States does not have a national holiday that is comparable to Japan’s Coming of Age Day, the process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood is still an important aspect of American society and culture. This transition is reflected in several of the courses that the English Department is offering this semester. Henry Doss, for example, is teaching a topics course titled “Southern Childhood in Films, Stories, and Performances” in which he is exploring the coming-of-age experience for young people growing up in the South. Janaka Lewis is offering an upper-level course on “Black Girlhood.” In this course, she is covering several texts that deal with coming-of-age themes, including Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. Like Janaka, Balaka Basu is also teaching a course that deals with the experience of growing up female. Balaka is teaching a graduate-level course titled “Books for Girls and Other Young People” in which she encourages her students to examine what “girlhood studies has to do with women’s studies.”
Japan’s Coming of Age Day underscores the important role that culture plays in helping young people navigate the transitions associated with growing up. In Childhood and Society, Erik Erikson argues that the process of maturing involves going through eight different stages, six of which take place before one reaches full adulthood. As Erikson points out, the experience of progressing through these stages is shaped in part by one’s culture. All societies have rituals and stories associated with coming of age, but they vary depending on each society’s cultural values and traditions. I am pleased that our English Department provides our students with many opportunities to ponder the cultural significance of such coming-of-age rituals and stories.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
Allison Hutchcraft has published her poem “Among the Graves” in The Gettysburg Review.
Maya Socolovsky recently published an article titled “Material Literacies: Migration and Border Crossings in Chicana/o Children’s Picture Books” in MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S.
Upcoming Events and Meetings — Here is a list of upcoming events and deadlines:
January 16 — Last day for students to add or drop a course with no grade.
January 19 — The Children’s Literature Graduate Organization (CLGO) and the Myers Park Library are co-sponsoring a “Celebration of Paddington Bear.” This event will take place at the Myers Park Library (1361 Queens Road) on Saturday, January 19, from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm.
January 29 — The Personally Speaking presentation featuring Janaka Bowman Lewis will take place on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at UNC Charlotte Center City. Janaka’s presentation on her book Freedom Narratives of African American Women will begin at 6:30 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow her presentation. For more information and to RSVP, please click on the following link: https://exchange.uncc.edu/how-early-womens-writings-led-to-civil-rights-discourse/
February 7 — Grace Ocasio will participate in a poetry reading at the Waccamaw Library on Pawleys Island, SC, from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Quirky Quiz Question — The CLGO’s “Celebration of Paddington Bear” brings to mind Paddington Bear’s origin story. According to this story, in what country was Paddington Bear living before he moved to London?
Last week’s answer: Heather Vorhies
This Monday Missive spotlights six faculty members who incorporate science in their English courses, but these faculty members are by no means the only English faculty members who draw on the sciences in their teaching. For example, another faculty member is teaching a course this semester on the “Rhetoric of Science.” What is the name of the professor who is teaching this course?