Loyola University Maryland Humanities Symposium 2023 Keynote Address

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Loyola University Maryland-McGuire Hall
4501 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210
Thursday, March 16, 2023 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Types: Literature
Price Ranges: Free
Phone: 410.617.2617

Best-selling novelist, Julie Otsuka will deliver the keynote address, "An American Story: War, Memory and Erasure.” Free and open to the general public as well as the region’s academic communities, it will be followed by a book signing with her books available for purchase.


Otsuka is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Harper’s, Newsweek, 100 Years of The Best American Short Stories, The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story, The Best American Short Stories 2012, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012, and has been read aloud on PRI’s “Selected Shorts” and BBC Radio 4’s “Book at Bedtime.”


Her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine – about the incarceration of a Japanese-American family during World War II – is based on her own family history. It won the Asian American Literary Award and the American Library Association's Alex Award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. The book has been assigned to all incoming freshmen at more than 60 colleges and universities and is a regular ‘Community Reads’ selection across the United States; however, it was banned by Wisconsin’s Muskego-Norway school district in 2022.


Otsuka’s second novel, The Buddha in the Attic – about a group of young Japanese ‘picture brides’ who sailed to America in the early 1900s – was a finalist for the National Book Award 2011. An international bestseller, it won the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2011 Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction, the prestigious Prix Femina étranger 2012 and the Albatros Literaturpreis 2013. In 2022, Otsuka released her third novel, The Swimmers, about a group of obsessed recreational swimmers and what happens to them when a crack appears at the bottom of their local pool.


The keynote address will touch on her family’s experience in the camps during World War II, the dwindling number of survivors of the camps left and her desire not to let their story be forgotten. She also will discuss the evolution of When the Emperor Was Divine ’s reception over the years and the nationwide attempts to erase/suppress certain histories from the official record.


Admission is free, but advance registration is required. To reserve seating, visit loyola.edu/join-us/humanities-symposium, email centerforthehumanities@loyola.edu or call 410.617.2617.


This event will conclude a monthlong series of Loyola faculty workshops, student-faculty colloquia and activities exploring how people who are forcibly displaced or estranged from home can find a sense of belonging. Since 1986, Loyola’s Humanities Center has sponsored the annual Humanities Symposium – a series of events related to a particular text for students, faculty, friends of the University and the Baltimore community. The main goal has been to get a large portion of the Loyola community to read the same work at roughly the same time and to be engaged in a common inquiry. Keynote speakers have included Elie Wiesel, Toni Morrison, Tracy Chevalier, Czeslaw Milosz, Phil Klay, Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale and William Bennett.