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Assistant Professor of English
Year began at RIC: 2009
Project: Exploring the Japanese-American Internment through Art and Literature
Dr. Duneer was awarded a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) to support a lecture and art exhibit by Roger Shimomura, University of Kansas Distinguished Professor of Art Emeritus. Roger Shimomura's paintings, prints, and theatre pieces address sociopolitical issues of ethnicity and have often been inspired by the diaries kept by his late immigrant grandmother. He was born in Seattle, Washington and spent two years of his young life in Minidoka, Idaho, one of 10 concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII. The lecture and art exhibit are part of the college's Open Books Open Minds program (OBOM).
Each year since 2006, through OBOM, the college has conducted lectures and other activities around a common reading as a means of fostering dialogue and understanding on relevant issues within RIC and across the larger community. This year's selection by Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor was Divine, describes a family's experience in a Japanese-American internment camp. With Dr. Duneer's grant from RICH, the program takes on a new relevance by including visual art and memoir through Roger Shimomura's lecture and art exhibit. Shimomura's visual depictions of the camp experience from multiple perspectives, e.g., a young child, his parents, and the military guards looking in on life in the barracks, can be compared with the points of view in Otsuka's novel. These events are designed to broaden community conversations about the Japanese-American internment, the importance of storytelling and art to preserve memories, and how fictional and artistic representations can reflect the consequences of racism and social injustice.
The exhibit of Roger Shimomura's artwork is on display at the Bannister Gallery from March 8 - April 6, 2012. His keynote lecture takes place on Thursday, March 29, 2012 in Alger 110 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The lecture and exhibit are free and open to the public.
Roger Shimomura, American Guardian, lithograph, 27" x 39", 2007 (detail)