A Circle of Like Minds by Jeffrey Folks

A Circle of Like Minds

My Life at Doshisha, Japan’s Leading Christian University by Jeffrey Folks

In 1864, at the age of 21, a young samurai stowed away on the Wild Rover, headed for America. That brave young man, Niijima Jo, who later took the name of Joseph Hardy Neesima, brought with him the intention to study at a Christian university. In pursuing this dream, Neesima risked his life by breaking the long-standing prohibition against travel abroad by Japanese citizens.

Determined to achieve his goal, Neesima overcame enormous obstacles, eventually becoming the first Japanese citizen to graduate from an American university. After earning degrees from Amherst College and Andover Theological Seminary, he returned to Kyoto, Japan, where he founded Doshisha Academy (later Doshisha University), the first Christian university in Japan.

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Jeffrey Folks is retired from over thirty years of teaching in Europe, America, and Japan, most recently as Professor of Letters in the Graduate School of Doshisha University, one of Japan’s leading private universities. He has published numerous books and articles on American literature, including In a Time of Disorder: Form and Meaning in Southern Fiction from Poe to O’Connor (2003), and Damaged Lives: Southern and Caribbean Narrative from Faulkner to Naipaul (2005).

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