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Fertile Ground: A novel

John Conrad Schulze, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Fertile Ground brings to light a little-known facet of 20th century American history. The internment of Japanese Americans on the west coast during WW II is common knowledge, but what is less known is that the same law, specifically the Alien Enemy Act, was also used to register and, in some cases, indefinitely intern thousands of Germans and Italians during the war. My novel depicts one German family's struggle with this government policy. The text touches on issues similar to those explored in Joy Kagowa's Obasan: suspension of civil liberties, economic restrictions, and the fracturing of families. The novel also responds to Kagowa's novel by asking a simple question: What if the Other suddenly becomes the Self? The physical Otherness of Japanese made them easily identifiable as such. The novel examines the psychological response of a community to the realization that Otherness can exist in ways that are not as obvious as physical characteristics. The resulting suspicion generates reactionary responses to the notion that the enemy may be a trusted neighbor. This communal reaction is mirrored within a family when the main character, Lucy, is forced to re-examine her relationship with her husband, who has been arrested and interned by the FBI. Ultimately, it is an historical novel that is particularly relevant to political elements within post 9/11 American society. It's also very relevant in light of the recent release of Craig Shirley's December 1941: 31 days that changed America and saved the world. A book that examines the radical changes that occurred in the United States in a single month.^

Subject Area

Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Schulze, John Conrad, "Fertile Ground: A novel" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3503017.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3503017

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