Intersections: Fan Studies in Conversation in Japan Symposium

Sophia ICCSunday, December 16
10:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Sophia University Yotsuya Campus – Building no. 2, Room 1702
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8554 JAPAN

As an academic field, fan/fandom studies is robust and well-established – with its current state covered by comprehensive surveys such as Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, 2nd Edition and A Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies, new research appearing in the Journal of Fandom Studies, teaching in programs like the Fandom, Cult Studies, and Subculture Studies minor at DePaul University, as well as various individual classes, and the Fan Studies Network connecting scholars around the world. And, as the field evolves and expands, certain conversations develop and certain questions are asked. For example, one of the chapters in A Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies is “The Unbearable Whiteness of Fandom and Fan Studies” (although the author acknowledges,  in a note, that “there is work, however, on the practices of media fandom outside of Europe and the United States that focuses on fans who would in the United States be understood as people of color, such as, for example, work on fandoms in Asia” – perhaps largely negating the hyperbolic title). One kind of conversation that is crucial to the continuing development of fan studies is one that acknowledges global perspectives on fans and fandom, and builds connections between scholars in different countries and with different approaches.

And it is to facilitate just these kinds of conversations that the Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture is hosting a one-day symposium entitled Intersections: Fan Studies in Conversation in Japan. Organized by leading fan studies scholars Lori Morimoto, Nele Noppe, and Patrick W. Galbraith. It will be be free, open to the public, and conducted entirely in English. The Symposium will serve “as a step in the direction of greater contact between scholars based in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, who all focus on media and fan cultures, but in diverse ways. The goal is not only to encourage conversation and collaboration across dividing lines, but also to critically assess some of the assumptions and blind spots in fan studies today.” Several of the talks will directly address anime/manga and anime/manga fans and fandom. Continue reading

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Highlighting New Publications: Boys Love Manga and Beyond

Boys Love Manga and BeyondAs a particular genre in Japanese comics (and to a lesser degree, animation), Boys’ Love and the related generic/content label of yaoi has attracted significant scholarly attention from English-language scholars of Japanese popular visual culture. Boys’ Love, often abbreviated to BL, refers to texts with homosexual or at least homoerotic romance themes, created primarily by, and primarily for women. Yaoi is used generally for explicitly pornographic fan-created works, depicting sex between male partners, and using characters from established media properties such as novels, films, and anime/manga. Some of the ways that scholars are writing on BL/yaoi can be seen in book chapters such as Suzuki, Kazuko (1998), Pornography or therapy?: Japanese girls creating the yaoi phenomon, in S. Inness (Ed.), Millennium girls: Today’s girls around the world (pp. 243-267), and McHarry, Mark. Girls doing boys doing boys: Boys’ love, masculinity, and sexual identities, in T. Perper & M. Cornog (Eds.), Mangatopia: Essays on manga and anime in the modern world (pp. 119-133), and journal articles like Welker, James (2006), Beautiful, borrowed, and bent: “Boys’ Love” as girls’ love in shojo manga, Signs, 31(3), 841-870, McLelland, Mark (2006), Why are Japanese girls’ comics full of boys bonking? Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media, 10, and Pagliassotti, Dru (2008), Reading Boys Love in the West, Particip@tions: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, 5(2). In addition, out of the less a dozen edited collections of essays on anime/manga that have been published in English before this year, one specifically focuses on “Boys’ Love manga”.

The publication by the University Press of Mississippi of Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture, and Community in Japan now brings the number of English-language essay collections on shounen-ai/Boys Love/BL/yaoi to two. And the obvious question is – what makes this essay collection unique. Is it anyhow different from the already-published five years ago now Boys’ Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre (Jefferson, NC: McFarland), or is it just more of the same?

Continue reading

New Issue – Int’l Journal of Comic Art

The full table of contents for the latest (Spring 2014) issue of the International Journal of Comic Art (IJOCA), the oldest and most well-established forum for English-language scholarship and research on all aspects of comics, graphic novels, caricature, strips, editorial and political cartoons, animation, and other related topics worldwide is now available at the IJOCA website. The new issue includes at least two papers on Japanese comics:

  • Galbraith, Patrick. The Misshitsu trial: Thinking obscenity with Japanese comics (pp. 125-146)
    [Preview / Read online]
  • Whaley, Ben. Doomed hybrids: Three cases of fatal mixing in the war comics of Tezuka Osamu (pp. 244-257)
    [Preview / Read online]

IJOCA has been published twice a year since 1999. It has grown from 219 pages and 18 articles in the launch issue to almost 800 pages and 42 articles in last fall’s (down to 590 pages and 28 articles for Spring 2014). It has always been actively international in scope, and almost every issue has included at least several articles on Japanese comics. And although it is perhaps not as “reader-friendly” as other, more recent publications, such as Studies in Comics, the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, and the open-access ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, it remains the single most prominent periodical in English-language comics studies. In fact, earlier this year, it was the only periodical nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award in the “best scholarly/academic work” category.