Wine Chat

Cold-War Coeds: The Untold Story of Japanese Students Sponsored by the U.S. Military

Alisa Freedman, Asian Studies, will speak on “Cold-War Coeds: The Untold Story of Japanese Students Sponsored by the U.S. Military” on Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 6 p.m. at Civic Winery and Wines, 50 E. 11th Ave. in Eugene.

 Between 1949 and 1966, at least 4,713 Japanese students, of whom 651 were women, studied at American graduate schools. They were supported by the best-known fellowships at the time—the GARIOA (Government Account for Relief in Occupied Areas), administered by the U.S. Army, and Fulbright. These young scholars were among the Japanese to travel abroad after World War II. They arrived bearing the burdens of the past, while possessing an openness to the future. They came to study in a land that had interned around 120,000 Japanese Americans during the war, but they persevered and were among the first women in the world who earned graduate degrees. 

At a time when being a housewife was held up as a middle-class ideal, many became professors, university chancellors, librarians, and translators. Others became leaders in medicine, journalism, athletics, and other male-dominated professions. 

Yoko McClain in front of Carson Hall  1952
Yoko McClain in front of Carson Hall 1952

Through archival research and personal interviews Freedman has recovered the forgotten history of mothers of academic fields in the Humanities who transformed the roles women could play in education and the workforce. Among them was Yoko Matsuoka McClain, who entered the University of Oregon with a GARIOA grant in 1952, graduated with a BA in French (1956) and an MA in Comparative Literature (1967), and led the UO’s Japanese program (1964–1994). 

Freedman is a professor of Japanese Literature and Film at the University of Oregon. Much of her interdisciplinary work investigates how the modern urban experience has shaped human subjectivity, cultural production, and gender roles. She is a 2019–20 OHC Faculty Research Fellow.

The event is free and open to the public. Beverages are available for purchase. For more information call 541-346-3934.

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