Godzilla Mon Amour

Jan 6, 2020

A young Tsutsui dressed as Godzilla for Halloween.
Credit Tsutsui family photos

Unearth the reasons why so many of us love Godzilla, with Professor Tsutsui as our guide.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with William Tsutsui, former President of Hendrix College and a self-admitted aficionado of "all-things Godzilla." 

Tsutsui's book Godzilla On My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters. published by Saint Martin's Griffin, recovers Godzilla from b-movie status and celebrates the King of the Monsters.

"In so, many ways, Godzilla remains a compelling dynamic presence in American culture, an icon adored and derided, cheered and jeered, yet never–-unlike so many of the elite cultural canon of our society--forgotten, ignored, or benignly neglected." 
 

This book is an attempt to understand why we Americans enjoy, respond to, and, in some cases, love a half-century old Japanese movie monster. How so many people, across all demographics and dividing lines of age, sex and race, come to relate to Godzilla? ... Understanding the appeal of Godzilla, when all is said and done, means understanding ourselves.

Tsutsui and Godzilla at the monster's 65th birthday party in the Hendrix Cafeteria, November 2019
Credit Courtesy of Hendrix College

Tsutsui is the author or editor of eight books, including Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century JapanGodzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters, and Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization, as well as numerous articles on modern Japanese history.  

He has received Fulbright, ACLS, and Marshall fellowships, and was awarded the John Whitney Hall Prize of the Association for Asian Studies in 2000 and the William Rockhill Nelson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2005. His teaching and research focus on the business, environmental, and cultural history of twentieth-century Japan.

Tsutsui recently retired as president of Hendrix College, located in Conway, Arkansas. He previously served as dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University from 2010 to 2014.

He holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and Princeton universities. Prior to joining SMU, Tsutsui spent seventeen years at the University of Kansas, where he served as Acting Director of KU’s Center for East Asian Studies, Chair of the Department of History, founding Executive Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Kansas, and Associate Dean for International Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Johny Fisher and Aaron Martin of Okey Dokey
Singer songwriter, Grace Askew

Thank you to singers and songwriters musicians  Okey Dokey, Grace AskewNew Motto, and Future Elevators.

A special thanks to Donavan Suitt for the music mash ups and Godzilla effects.   

Thank you to the Four Points by Sheraton Little Rock Midtown for supplying accommodations for guests of Arts & Letters, and thank you to Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Executive Producer & Host: J. Bradley Minnick

Producer & Story Editor: Mary Ellen Kubit

Sound Mastering: Simon Sound Services

Music Mashup: Donavan Suitt