Relationship of Human Rights and Literature Examined in Lawrence Main Hall Forum

The relationship between literature and human rights will be examined Monday, Feb. 8 in the Lawrence University Main Hall Forum “War Crimes and Representation.” The presentation, at 4:30 p.m. in Main Hall 201, is free and open to the public.

James Dawes, associate professor of English and American literature at Macalester College, discusses his work with Japanese war criminals, who participated in the 1937-38 rape of Nanking, China, in which invading Japanese troops slaughtered more than 369,000 Chinese civilians and prisoners of war and raped an estimated 80,000 women and girls.

Dawes interviewed the war criminals, who offered their confessions both as a warning and a desire to spread them in the western world before they die. His presentation will explore the importance of the confessions as part of the collective moral archive of the 20th century to create an accurate account of our time for future generations as well as how these confessions represent an impossibility in language.

The founder and director of the Program in Human Rights and Humanitarianism at Macalester, Dawes is the author of “The Language of War,” which examines the relationship between language and violence and “That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity,” a finalist in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, which chronicles the successes and failures of the modern human rights movement.