It’s Godzilla! SMU dean brings historical insights on pop hero

By Mary Jacobs
Staff Writer

Godzilla on My Mind by William M. Tsutsui William M. Tsutsui, who will be the new dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences starting July 1, brings more than academic expertise to his new role. As the author of Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters (Palgrave, 2004), he brings a nearly obsessive fascination with that pop-culture monster-hero.

His interest in the big lizard dates back to his childhood in central Texas, where he recalled watching his first Godzilla flick at age 8. During the early 1970s, he said, there were not a lot of role models there for Japanese Americans.

But Godzilla, he added, gave him “something about Japan and my Japanese heritage that I could be proud of, that my friends could relate to and that meant something.”

Today, he gives lectures on Godzilla at events ranging from academic symposia to pop culture confabs, and has been called on by National Public Radio, the BBC World Service, Australian National Radio, and other media outlets around the world to talk about the king of monsters. He works from an office festooned with a collection of Godzilla figures.

Godzilla, of course, is just one piece in the range of scholarly expertise boasted by Dr. Tsutsui, who has degrees from Harvard, Princeton and Oxford. He joins SMU from the University of Kansas, where he has been associate dean for international studies in the College of Arts & Sciences and professor of history. A specialist in Japanese business and economic history, Dr. Tsutsui’s books cover topics ranging from banking policy to the film icon.

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More about Tsutsui's appointment.

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