Later this week, the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies will be hosting two programs on aspects of Japanese popular culture and its reception both in Japan and around the world. On Thursday, April 3, Mark McLelland will present a lecture on ‘debates around fictional child characters in Japanese popular culture’. As announced earlier this month, following this, on Saturday, April 5, a group of leading scholars will participate in a one-day workshop on specific ethical, legal, political, cultural and other challenges that Japanese popular culture as a field or area of inquiry presents for teachers at all levels, researchers, and students.
Thursday, April 3
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
School of Social Work Building, Room 1636
Thought Policing or Protection of Youth: Debates Around Fictional Child Characters in Japanese Popular Culture
“Despite a tradition of inflammatory remarks in the Anglophone press concerning the unregulated nature of sexual and violent content in Japanese animation, comics and gaming, these products are in fact under intense scrutiny in Japan. Until recently most public debate has been over the sexual and violent content of boys’ manga and anime but in recent years girls’ manga, too, have come under increasing scrutiny. This paper looks at two recent developments in Japan: the 2008 furore over the large number of ‘Boys Love’ titles available for loan in a library district in Osaka, and the 2010 debate in Tokyo over the ‘Non-Existent Youth’ Bill.
It is argued that until recently debate about manga content in Japan was largely about protecting children and young people from supposedly harmful adult themes. However, due to growing international pressures, the debate has now shifted to the supposedly harmful depictions of children and young people in manga and anime themselves. Given that BL is a genre that specialises in the sexualization of its youthful characters, this paper argues that it is likely to come under increasing attack from conservative lobbyists in Japan and overseas as this material is liable to be classified as a “child abuse publication.” What does this classification mean for fans of the genre in Japan and overseas and how might fans and scholars engage the authorities in debate over the meaning of these cultural products?”
Mark McLelland (University of Wollongong, Australia)
Dr. McLelland has written extensively on homosexuality and depictions of gay men in Japanese popular culture, hentai, yaoi/boys’ love websites in Japan and around the world, and the legal, social and technical issues related to the regulation of virtual child pornography. An earlier version of this talk was published in the International Journal of Comic Art.
Saturday, April 5
North Quad, Room 2435
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The End of ‘Cool’ Japan? Ethical, Legal, Political and Cultural Challenges for Japanese Popular Culture Teachers, Researchers and Students
“This workshop addresses some pressing concerns for all those with an investment in teaching and learning about Japan via its popular culture. It brings together Japan specialists, both educators and researchers, in order to identify key challenges in research and pedagogy and to develop a framework for a code of ethics that can serve as a guideline for Japan Studies professionals.
· Copyright in the classroom: teaching fan appropriations of Japanese popular culture.
· Japanese and American culture industry responses to dōjin culture.
· The impact of “child-abuse material” legislation on research and teaching about manga and anime.
· Recent trends in ACG censorship and legislation in Japan.
· Cultural resistance among students to learning about aspects of Japanese popular culture.
· Challenges from ethics committees for researchers into sexualized subcultures.
· The range of gatekeepers who control, censure or mediate access to Japanese popular culture
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The workshop program will start with an opening address by Prof. McLelland, based in part on his recent paper ‘Ethical and legal issues in teaching about Japanese popular culture to undergraduate students in Australia‘ (Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 13:2). The other talks over the course of the day will be:
- Laura Miller (University of Missouri – St. Louis)
Student sensibilities and gatekeeper protests: Teaching and presenting research on unwelcome Japan Studies topics
- Alisa Freeman (University of Oregon
Death Note and crimes in the classroom: Issues in teaching Japanese popular culture to the ne(x)t generation
- Sabine Fruhstuck (University of California, Santa Barbara)
“Every picture tells a lie:” Teaching the popular culture of sexuality and violence
- Kirsten Cather (University of Texas at Austin)
Trying obscene manga in the courtroom and classroom: Ethical and legal issues in teaching Japanese popular culture to undergraduate students
- Patrick Galbraith (Duke University)
Is there room for lolicon in Cool Japan?
Patrick Galbraith has published definitive articles on fujoshi, lolicon, moe and Akihabara. He is also the author of the Otaku Encyclopedia (New York: Kodansha USA, 2010).
This past weekend, the participants spoke on the same topic at the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies.