A Florida State University professor has been awarded his second prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award and will return to Tokyo, Japan, to teach next year.
Perry Howell, a senior lecturer in the Department of English, earned the 2023-2024 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award and, starting next spring, he will teach two classes each at Tokai University and J.F. Oberlin University, both in the Tokyo area.
“Every Fulbright placement presents its own unique challenges, so you have to respond flexibly to what each particular university needs from you,” Howell said. “Like studying abroad, teaching abroad challenges your habitual ways of seeing and responding to the world, so the experience can inspire a lot of creative thinking.”
The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers over 400 awards in more than 135 countries for U.S. citizens to teach, conduct research and carry out professional projects around the world. Fulbright scholars teaching in Japan focus their classes on various aspects of American culture.
One of two courses Howell will teach examines U.S. ideals and values as expressed in famous public speeches throughout U.S. history, such as Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech titled “Ain’t I a Woman?” The second course investigates how public apologies function in the U.S. and will explore differences between the U.S. and Japan in handling public apologies with curriculum focusing on famous American apologies. Both courses will align with Japan’s spring semester schedule, which typically runs from March to July.
“Students in Japan are, in my experience, extremely interested in learning about American culture,” Howell said. “They question beliefs and assertions about the U.S. that most American students would take for granted, which makes for lively discussions.”
“Students in Japan are, in my experience, extremely interested in learning about American culture. They question beliefs and assertions about the U.S. that most American students would take for granted, which makes for lively discussions.”
— Perry Howell, a senior lecturer in the Department of English
Howell has lived in Japan twice before. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Howell finished his doctoral program at the University of Iowa remotely while his wife Judith Pascoe, the FSU George Mills Harper Professor of English used her own Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to teach at two different universities in Tokyo. A decade later, Howell earned his first Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award, allowing them both to live in Yokohama while he taught at Yokohama National University for the 2019-2020 academic year.
“I have great respect for the challenges my Japanese students accept by signing up for my courses,” Howell said. “Anyone who has gone from learning a foreign language in a classroom to using that foreign language in the real world can understand this challenge — it is both exciting and anxiety-provoking for students, and it is fun from the teacher’s side to be a part of that process.”
Including Howell, nearly 20 faculty members from the Department of English have lectured internationally since 2017. Department chair and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Gary Taylor said Howell’s continued international engagement reflects FSU’s strategic global orientation.
“Dr. Howell’s Fulbright awards contribute directly to the international reputation of FSU as the home of outstanding faculty,” Taylor said. “It is also further confirmation that the English Department at FSU is recognized globally as a leader in English language research and teaching.”
In addition to teaching in Japan, Howell has also lectured abroad in Italy through FSU’s Florence Study Center — he was part of the team to first offer the Editing, Writing and Media program there in 2022.
“Teaching in foreign countries heightens your awareness of what is happening around you, so you notice with new energy many of the things in your everyday life that, in your home country, you screen out as too familiar,” Howell said. “That is one of my goals in teaching abroad: to bring that sense of energy and wonder back to my teaching here at FSU and to inspire a similar perspective in students here.”