By 2011, anime and manga studies as an academic field was definitely coming into its own, with a number of books, dozens of classes, an annual conference (Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design), and even an annual journal dedicated to “anime, manga and the fan arts”. What anime and manga studies did not have, though, was a way to present the academic field to non-academic audiences – to connect anime/manga scholars with anime and manga fans. And it was here that I saw both a niche, a need, and a market gap – and tried to fill it.

So, in the winter of 2011, I approached the senior officers of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the non-profit corporate parent of the Anime Expo convention, with a proposal to organize, produce and manage a track of academic presentations and panel discussions that would be a part of the AX 2011 program. A lot of my proposal was based on enthusiasm and hopeful thinking, but in making the proposal, I was drawing on examples for Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, the Comic Arts Conference track of San Diego Comic-Con, and the easily dozens of papers on various aspects of anime and manga that had been presented over the years at academic conferences, seminars and workshops around the U.S. In fact, as early as 2004, the Anime Boston convention had incorporated a session of formal academic presentations into its panel programming schedule – and if they could do it, I could certainly try to adjust the program for scale and expand it over the length four days of AX 2011.The proposal was accepted, and, early in 2011, I began creating an actual call for papers, and drawing on all my knowledge of the anime studies community (and my professional experience as an event producer) to make the proposal come to life. And all I’ll say is, my enthusiasm and wishful thinking were not misplaced. Two months later, I was able to announce a full schedule of addresses, presentations, and panel discussions, and on July 1, 2011, I was able to formally open the first annual AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium.

AX 2011 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium – Schedule

Friday, July 1

Keynote Address: Ian Condry (Associate Professor, Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

At that point, Prof. Condry was already working on the book that he would publish in 2013 as The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story, and he reflected on some of his experiences at AX in the book.

Panel Discussion: Theoretical perspectives on Japanese visual culture

  • Samantha Close (University of Southern California)
  • Amanda Landa (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Gino Zarrinfar (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Part 1

Part 2

Open Session

  • This place is a nightmare: Globalization as horror in Katsuhiro Otomo’s Domu
    Andrea Gilroy (University of Oregon)
  • Manga Revolution or logical evolution? Field theory on the rise and demise of Tokyopop’s U.S. publishing programme
    Casey Brienza (University of Cambridge)

Saturday, July 2

Open Session

  • Between Yasashii and Bushido: The balancing power of warrior mothers in anime
    – Sherrie Bakelar (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
    – Sandra Aragona (Claremont Graduate University)
  • Modernity and pre-war Japanese animation
    – Annie Manion (University of Southern California)

Open Session

  • History, memory and aesthetics in animation: Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies
    Paul Cheng (University of California, Riverside)
  • “Cool Japan”: Soft power in the 21st century
    Kukhee Choo (Tulane University)
  • The Guyver and societies of control
    – Gino Zarrinfar (University of Hawaii Manoa)

Sunday, July 3

Open Session

  • Real ninjas make AMV’s! Anime through the eyes of vidders
    Samantha Close (University of California, Irvine)

The author presented a revised version of this paper as a part of the University of California, Irvine Visual Studies Student/Faculty Colloquium, and published a further revision, entitled ‘Popular culture through the eyes, ears, and fingertips of fans: Vidders, anime music video editors, and their sources’ as a chapter in Sampling Media (Oxford University Press, 2014)

  • – A bridge between teaching and creating manga
    Northrop Davis (University of South Carolina)
  • “Past fungibility”: Examining the speculative value of history in the doujin works of Takeshi Nogami
    – Forrest Greenwood (University of Southern California)
  • “Open-source culture” and the cult of Hatsune Miku
    Alexander Leavitt (University of Southern California)

Panel Discussion: Teaching, writing and thinking about anime/manga: New directions, new opportunities

Closing Remarks: Lawrence Eng (Founder, Anime and Manga Research Circle)

  • Writing about otaku: Lessons from fandom, academia, and beyond

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