Academic Hoaxes, “Sokal Squared”, and Anime and Manga Studies

It is rare to see any kind of discussion of academic publishing in mainstream media. Probably predictably, if academic journals are mentioned in general-interest newspapers it is probably because of some kind of controversy. And this is currently the case with the “Sokal Squared” hoax and the responses to it.

The hoax itself, as disclosed in Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship, was a project by three authors to write academic papers that were “outlandish or intentionally broken in significant ways”, including outright fabrication of data, but that allegedly “blend in almost perfectly with others in the disciplines [“loosely known as ‘cultural studies’ or ‘identity studies’ (for example, gender studies) or ‘critical theory'”] under our consideration” and submit these papers to leading journals. They submitted 20 papers; 7 were accepted, and 4 actually published. Since it was disclosed earlier in the month, the hoax has been covered extensively – in The Atlantic, the New York Times, Vox, and other publications. As the authors claim, the goal of the project was to study a “peculiar academic culture”, rather than to make and support any specific arguments beyond the general statement that “in certain fields within the humanities…scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established.”

The question I have to ask, of course, is what lessons, if any, does this latest hoax have for anime and manga studies in general, and for anyone interested in academic publications on anime/manga and related topics? Continue reading

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Highlighting new publications – Miyazakiworld

MiyazakiworldTo Western audiences, Japanese animation still largely means the feature films produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. And Western animation scholars also focus on Miyazaki and Ghibli extensively – just some recent examples include two of the four volumes published so far in Bloomsbury’s Animation: Key Films/Filmmakers series, the articles in the April 2018 “Introducing Studio Ghibli” issue of the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, and a chapter on “excess and abnegation in Spirited Away” in the essay collection Devouring Japan: Global perspectives on Japanese culinary identity. And now, one of the world’s most prominent English-language academic publishers is adding to this list.

Napier, Susan. Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Continue reading

Papers on Anime/Manga in New Voices in Japanese Studies

New VoicesAs I’ve mentioned several times already, one of the inevitable challenges that faces anyone who is seeking to publish their research on anime/manga in a peer-reviewed academic journal is simply selecting a journal to submit to – especially given that there is nothing out there, at least right now, like a “Journal of Anime/Manga Studies”. One simple approach is to focus on the obvious and submit to one of the journals that focus on animation and comics, another is to emphasize the “Japan” angle and submit to a Japanese or Asian Studies journal. Of course, it is also possible to approach the content of the anime/manga in question first and foremost – with this approach, that the work itself happens to be a Japanese cartoon or comic is essentially irrelevant; an example of this kind of approach is Algorithmic tyranny: Psycho-Pass, science fiction and the criminological imagination, to be published in an forthcoming issue of Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal.

Nonetheless, all of these approaches call for a familiarity with the ever-growing universe of English-language academic journals. And one journal that I think will be particularly relevant to anyone who is interested in the developing field of anime/manga studies is New Voices in Japanese Studies (originally, New Voices) – “the only journal dedicated to publishing academic research by outstanding graduate-level scholars with a specific focus on Japan.” Continue reading

New Resource – The Core Journals of Anime/Manga Studies

Mechademia 01One of the pages that visitors to this site arrive from consistently is a question posted on anime.stackexchange.com about “any places that regularly publish anime or manga related academic papers?” Almost two years ago, I provided a basic answer to it there. Now, I am happy to announce a new addition to the Anime and Manga Studies site – a guide to the “core” journals of anime/manga studies – that is, the several dozen English-language academic journals, in several different subject areas, that have consistently published papers on anime/manga.

For each title, the guide lists basic details, such as the publisher, and whether the publisher is a for-profit corporate entity or a non-profit, the journal’s publication frequency, how long it has been in existence, its scope, profile, or mission statement, and a selection of the actual articles on anime/manga that have been published in each. In the future, I may work to expand the guide with additional information on the journals’ preferred word counts, citation styles, and other submission guidelines. I will also periodically review this list to add in any new titles that may become important to the field in the future.

Of course, these titles do not represent the entire “universe” of journals that academic articles on anime/manga can appear in. For example, right now, the Journal Articles section of the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies for the current year lists 40 individual articles – published in 26 different journals, and only 8 of these journals show up in the Core list.

Nonetheless, I do hope that going forward, this list will be useful to anyone who is looking to actually publish their research on anime/manga in a peer-reviewed academic journal, to teachers who are working to develop class reading lists, and of course, to students who are looking for publications to draw on to support their own research. As always, any feedback you have – thoughts, comments, suggestions, recommendations, etc. – is very much welcome!

The Core Journals of Anime/Manga Studies

 

Manga at the Comics Studies Society 1st Annual Conference

CSSRegardless of how one thinks about the idea of “manga studies” specifically, the idea of “comics studies” in general as an established academic field is long past being in any way controversial. The field is now covered by major commercial and academic presses – including several with dedicated series such as Bloomsbury Comics Studies, Comics Culture (Rutgers University Press), Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic NovelsStudies in Comics and Cartoons (The Ohio State University Press), and World Comics and Graphic Nonfiction (University of Texas Press), as well as number of journals, and regular academic conferences, and several colleges around the U.S. are now offering formal comics studies programs.
Another major feature that characterizes an established academic field is a defined community of scholars who are actually working in it, organized formally in some way. The Comics Studies Society, first organized in 2014, is this community for the field of comics studies broadly defined – as being “open to all who share the goals of promoting the critical study of comics, improving comics teaching, and engaging in open and ongoing conversations about the comics world”, with “comics studies” meaning “the study and critical analysis of comics strips; comic books, papers, and magazines; albums, graphic novels, and other graphic books; webcomics and other electronic formats; single-panel cartoons, including editorial and gag cartoons; caricature; animation; and other related forms and traditions.” Since its launch, the Society has been promoting resources in and for comics studies through its website, developing an annual award program for outstanding new scholarship on comics, and began publication of another new academic journal in the field. But its major area of activity has been the launch of an annual academic conference.

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Resource Review – Reviews of Peer-Reviewed Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences

The end goal of “academic writing” is not just producing a piece of writing that follows a particular format and style. Rather, the end goal – at least once you as the author are no longer writing simply to fulfill a class requirement – is a piece of writing that can then be published in the form of a book, a chapter in an edited essay collection, or, most likely, an article in an academic journal. But this kind of end goal implies an immediate and obvious question – how do you, as an author of a potential journal article, first go about deciding which journals to submit your paper to?

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English-Language Scholarship on Studio Ghibli Films: Looking at the Numbers

One of the paradoxes of scholarship in the humanities is that often, some questions that seem straightforward do not actually have simple answers. In fact, even coming up with an answer to some questions may be difficult, if not impossible. For example, it is relatively easy to demonstrate that a particular book or comic or movie is popular – the sales figures and box office numbers may not be immediately accessible, but the numbers do exist. But it is much harder to claim that a particular author – or a particular film – is “the most studied of all time” or something similar. Claims of this kind, applied to many different authors and many different films, are not uncommon – but the casual statements I have often seen, such as that “among the most studied films of the last few decades are those that descend from the mid-century fiction of Philip Dick and his contemporaries“, tend not to be supported in any way. Comparing authors or works based on the amount of critical attention they have received is equally challenging, though not unheard of – see, for example, Powrie, Phil, Thirty years of doctoral theses on French cinema, Studies in French Cinema, 3(3), 199-203, noting, among other things, “the most popular directors studied”. And, of course, studying the relative importance or prominence of actual scholarship is a well-established practice – and identifying the “most frequently cited works” and the “most frequently cited scholars” in particular fields is at the core of formal citation analysis.

Nonetheless, again, while providing an answer to the question of what is the most frequently studied anime ever – or the most frequently studied anime director ever – is impossible, narrowing the scope of the question can lead to interesting, and potentially insightful, results. The role that Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have played in introducing Japanese animation to audiences and critics outside Japan, and in legitimizing academic approaches to anime, is easy to acknowledge. And, as it turns out, now that we are looking at something more narrow in scope than “all anime that has ever been written about critically”, we can, in fact, survey and quantify English-language scholarly writing on Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. The end result, then, can be an actual illustration to the general discussion on how non-Japanese scholars have approached Miyazaki and his films.

English-Language Scholarship on Studio Ghibli Films: Examining the Numbers

Purpose: To compile and present specific figures on English-language research on the anime feature films of Studio Ghibli.

Scope: These figures are based on materials included in the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – books, chapters in edited essay collections, and articles in peer-reviewed journals and professional magazines. Articles in newspapers and general-interest magazines/websites, as well as blog posts and personal essays are not included, nor are dissertations/theses/papers written for class, or conference presentations, unless specifically published in Proceedings. The materials were identified using keyword searches in library catalogs, major and subject-specific academic databases, and Google Scholar, direct review of the bibliographies/works cited sections of many previously identified works, and in many cases, direct submissions by authors. All of the entries are listed separately in Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli: A Bibliography.

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Call for Papers – Kumoricon Anime and Manga Studies

Kumoricon logoKumoricon Anime and Manga Studies – ‘Intertextual Anime’
Kumoricon 2018
Portland, OR
October 26-28

When, in 2012, I first reached out to the organizers of Anime Expo – then and still the largest anime convention in the U.S. – with a proposal to introduce a track of formal academic lectures, presentations, and panel discussions into the convention’s program, such an idea was not unprecedented, but it was still unusual. San Diego Comic-Con (now known officially as Comic-Con International: San Diego)’s program had already included a Comics Arts Conference panel track, and anime conventions frequently featured talks by academic speakers. And now, six years later, I am excited – and pleased – to see this  initiative growing outside AX. And I am happy to share with you a message from this program’s organizer, explaining its goals and plans:

“I’m Trace Cabot, the organizer for Kumoricon Anime and Manga Studies, a new series of lectures and panels that will be held at Kumoricon, Oregon’s largest anime convention. As an academic conference built into the convention, KAMS will bring anime and manga scholars and fans together to share some of the most fascinating insights into Japanese comics and animation from a number of different fields and perspectives.

I’ve had the opportunity to see the enormous energy and enthusiasm this sort of exchange between scholars and the fan community encourages firsthand as a participant in Anime Expo’s Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, and I look forward to bringing this model up to the Pacific Northwest. The opportunity to share research with a receptive and excited crowd is both thrilling and productive, often illuminating new angles and approaches to both established projects and new material. The chance to spread new ideas among an audience united by their common love of the material can truly be inspirational, and I hope we’ll be able to offer new critical perspectives and ways of thinking through anime and manga to the fan community. I look forward to reviewing your submissions and hope to see you in Portland.”

KAMS invites submissions on all topics related to anime and manga, encouraging both submissions pertaining to intertextual and genre elements and general topics related to the mediums and their attending practices. Both panels and individual submissions are welcome. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Codifications and subversions of genres conventions
  • The roles of intertextual frames in anime and manga (homage, critique, parody, etc.)
  • Case studies on the development of manga in relation to films, television, and other forms of popular culture

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Isao Takahata: A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship

As several sources have reported, Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli and the director of five Ghibli feature films films, passed away earlier today. Takahata’s output as a creator has always been second to Miyazaki’s. Nonetheless, his work, and in particular, Grave of the Fireflies, also received a significant amount of English-language scholarly attention. And, of course, Takahata’s work has been addressed extensively throughout the more general academic writing on the work of Hayao Miyazaki on on Studio Ghibli.

Isao Takahata (1935-2018): A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship

Books

Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc.
Studio Ghibli: The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
Harpenden, UK: Kamera Books (1st ed.: 2009; Revised & Updated Ed.: 2015)

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

“Within Japanese popular culture, manga and anime have played a significant role in mediating responses to the outcome of the Pacific War. Miyazaki Hayao’s (possibly) final feature-length film, The Wind Rises, has been an important addition to the preceding body of popular media ‘texts’ that raise such themes. This article aims to address the question of how far cinematic animation can reasonably be obliged to follow the kinds of historiographical concerns that inevitably arise when engaging with Japan’s militarist past. To answer this question, considerable space is devoted to examining the historical context of what others have done in the post-war period and integrate that commentary into an analysis of how the works of Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Hayao fit amongst a succession of creative works that have been co-opted in the reshaping of historical perceptions of the Japanese at war amongst the Japanese themselves. This will also require some incidental discussion of methodological issues that arise when dealing with such cases as vehicles for understanding transformations in historical consciousness. Ultimately it is argued that Miyazaki does indeed make an important contribution to the commentary on the Japanese war experience, although it must, perhaps unavoidably, be on highly personal terms so far as The Wind Rises is concerned.”

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I Want to Know More: Books on Anime/Manga, Part 3 – Essay Collections

The monograph written by a single author and the article published in a peer-reviewed journal are two of the most common forms or formats of academic writing, and the ones that readers are generally the most intuitively familiar with. But they are not the only possible formats – another major one is a collection of essays, organized by a specific editor around a common theme, with contributions from a number of different authors – potentially from different academic fields, and often, different countries. As Brian Erb notes, in Beyond WorldCat: Accessing scholarly output in books and edited monographs “the importance of the edited book chapter for academic output should not be understated”, but of course, beyond simply academic output, there is also the question of the importance of these kinds of collections to readers – especially to readers who are looking for introductions to particular topics, for general overviews of major themes and issues, or for surveys of a variety of range of approaches.

In previous posts, I described some of what I think are the most useful single general books for anyone who is new to the field, and the major titles on specific creators/directors. Now, I would like to continue with this project, and present an overview of the major academic essay collections on anime/manga

I Want to Know More: Books on Anime/Manga, Part 3 – Edited Essay Collections

 

Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Cinema AnimeBy the mid-2000’s, individual chapters on anime had already appeared in more general essay collections, and in 2001, Susan Napier was the first to publish a monograph with “Anime” in the title. Cinema Anime, bringing together nine leading scholars, builds on them by arguing that the only way to interact with anime critically is to consider that anime encompasses a “diversity of approaches”, styles, and modes of distribution – in short, there is no single or “best” way to examine Japanese animation. At the same time, the essays in it can be organized broadly into three groups: one set broadly examines how anime addresses “the politics of identity”, the next, one of anime’s most consistent themes – post-humanism, and the last set, the relationship between anime and cinema broadly defined.

Sample chapter: “Excuse me, who are you?”: Performance, the gaze, and the female in the works of Kon Satoshi

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