ABSTRACT. The following paper analyzes internal and external factors that can influence the creation of a literary work. There can be a great range of factors that fit well in these two categories, so much so that hereby we shall focus mainly on one major factor from each category (namely, linguistic inheritance and technology), exemplifying the way they work with instances from Japanese American literature. We will limit the examples we use to Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto’s A daughter of the Samurai and Karen Tei Yamashita’s Through the arc of the rain forest, as we are mostly interested in the way the two types of factors can impact the portrayal of women in these novels. As concepts, the internal and the external will be discussed in detail using Takeo Doi’s theory of uchi (Jap. = “in”) and soto (Jap. = “out”). Applying Doi’s research in psychology to literature enables us to better understand how internal and external factors influence the creation and development of characters. Language as an uchi factor will be discussed in reference with Benjamin Lee Whorf’s Language, thought and reality. Whorf shows that the languages we speak (native or acquired) can broaden our horizons and influence the way we think. Normally, the way we think influences the way we express our thoughts and the literature we produce. It also means that it influences our perspective on things, on situations and on people. Technology will be discussed as a soto factor, with emphasis on two of its connections to the literary work: as presence/absence in the narrative and the repercussions of that presence/absence in the destiny of the characters. pp. 81–88

Keywords: linguistic inheritance; technology; influence; inside (uchi); outside (soto); consciousness; Japanese American versus Japanese culture

How to cite: Avram A (2018) Frontiers of influence: language and technology in the Japanese American fictions of Etsu I. Sugimoto and Karen Tei Yamashita. Creativity 1(1): 81–88. doi:10.22381/C1120182

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Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures,
English Department,
The University of Bucharest, Romania

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