Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Tamara Venit-Shelton

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© 2015 Midori Ishizuka


This thesis will compare and contrast how different genres tell the stories of Japanese American experiences during World War II. In the 1980s and 1990s the emergence of different genres such as memoirs, historical fiction, and documentaries, inspired a fresh approach to portraying history. Using the traditional historical monograph as a foil, this thesis will analyze how these newer genres can deepen our understanding of historic events and peoples on a personal, psychological, and emotional level. Topics of medium, authorship, affect, influence, and authenticity are commonly discussed in the comparisons of these genres. Each chapter will focus on one genre and analyze two works. Chapter 1 on memoirs examines Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and Nisei Memories by Paul Howard Takemoto. Chapter 2 on historical fiction will compare David Guterson’s narrative fiction novel Snow Falling on Cedars and Alan Parker’s narrative film Come See the Paradise. Chapter 3 on documentaries will discuss Ken Burns’ The War and Steven Okazaki’s Unfinished Business. Ultimately, while each work and each genre is unique, the significant commonality among them is their ability to expose the intimate and emotional aspects of historical experiences. This, in turn, prompts our engagement and emotional connection to the portrayed stories, which heightens our understanding of history in a more holistic way.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.