LLCW Department comes together for cultural collaboration

Published by Megan John, Date: November 11, 2022
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“Rock the Weekend: Origins of Popular Anime and Manga” celebrated unique aspects of Japanese culture on Saturday night using activities, demonstrations and performances. 

Over two hundred students and faculty gathered in the Smith Student Center ballroom to take part. The first portion involved volunteer-led activity tables, including several types of art and a tea ceremony, as well as a taiko drum performance by the World Percussion Ensemble. 

Raymont Youngblood, a professional manga artist, then took the stage for a drawing demonstration. The audience was provided paper and pencils to follow along. The final portion was an anime showing of “Astro Boy,” one of the first popular anime, followed by “Neon Genesis Evangelion.”

Other contributors came from the Martha Gault Art Gallery, which displayed their collection of ukiyoe, a type of historical Japanese art; and Bailey Library, which displayed books related to Japan and its culture.

This is the second large Japanese culture event held on campus. Yukako Ishimaru, a professor in the Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Writing (LLCW) Department at SRU, has been heavily involved in both. 

“Students, young people especially, are very into Japanese pop culture,” said Ishimaru. “They grew up with it, and they don’t really have a chance to sit down and think about it. That gave me the idea of teaching Japanese pop culture, to give the students an opportunity to investigate how and why [it is] so big.” 

For this event, she brought Nicholas Katsiadas, a fellow LLCW professor, on board. According to Katsiadas, preparation for the event started at the beginning of the summer. 

“The blueprint was already in place because of [the] successful event last spring, so they invited me on board, and I was responsible for recruiting a manga artist,” he said. “That’s how Raymont Youngblood got involved.” 

An event with so many moving parts also required volunteers, mostly from the liberal arts department. 

Students Janine Hunyadi and Evan Brown volunteered because they take Japanese language classes. They learned their activity, the tea ceremony, from a former student, who had learned it from Ishimaru. Others came from SRU’s Japanese Club. 

“Japanese Club teaches each other to be able to demonstrate activities or different events,” Ishimaru said. “It’s a tradition, that the skill will be passed on to the next generation.” 

The event also included a raffle with three themed prizes, donated by SGA. By the end of the event, many SRU students who entered the raffle had left – but Paula Ott, winner of a sealed, collector’s edition action figure, was there to receive it. She posed for pictures with the figure afterward, grinning. 

“As soon as we drew her number, she screamed,” said Katsiadas. “We were really happy to see it.” 

The professors spoke about another cultural event that may be coming up. 

“A lot of people at Slippery Rock might not have heard or realized that modern languages and English merged into one department,” Katsiadas said. “This [was] a large collaboration between two faculty members. What we have hoped to show the rest of the faculty in our newly merged department is the potential that we have … for another fruitful collaboration.” 

“I have to initiate this conversation soon, but we’re hoping to have another event like this in the following semester in the theme of world cultures,” Ishimaru added. “This way, we are able to present what we do.” 

She then asked Katsiadas, “are you in?” 

His response: “Absolutely.”

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Megan is a sophomore communication major with a concentration in converged journalism. This is her first semester as campus life editor, and she enjoys being able to connect with people from all across campus. In her free time, she can be found reading, writing, watching YouTube, or playing the Sims.

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