“The Department of World Languages & Literatures at Boston University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in East Asian Visual Media and Popular Culture, to begin July 1, 2017. Relevant expertise includes research in film, television, animation, graphic novels, or new media. Strong preference for transnational research reflecting the increasingly globalized sphere of popular culture across East Asia and potentially including South Asia. PhD is required at time of appointment, as is proficiency in an East Asian language.A robust research and publication agenda is essential.”
When talking about “anime/manga studies” as an actual academic field, rather than simply the idea of academic approaches to Japanese animation/comics, one point I always try to make is that while this field certainly already has some formal characteristics, it is still missing some others. Yes, authors are certainly writing books and book chapters and journal articles on anime/manga, and there are plenty of classes on anime/manga at colleges and universities around the U.S. But, at this point, it is not possible for a student to receive a degree in “anime studies” – then again, to the best of my understanding, only one university in the U.S. offers an actual undergraduate minor in comics and cartoon studies. For that matter, while plenty of college/university faculty members list anime or manga among their academic interests, there is no such thing as a “professor of anime studies” in the way that “professor of film studies” can be a title.
[What kinds of titles do academics who are interested in anime/manga actually hold, or what fields/departments are they affiliated with is actually a very interesting question to ask. I provide one answer to it in a study of the “author characteristics” of the individual chapters that appeared in four recent essay collections on anime/manga. In this study, I find that of the 35 authors who are college/university faculty, 11 are affiliated with Asian/East Asian/Japanese Studies departments, 4 with departments of English, literature/comparative literature, or sociology, 3 with history, 2 with religion/religious studies, and 1 each with 11 other departments, including communication, media studies, and “university studies”). Similarly, the titles of the Keynote Speakers at the annual AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium have been “professor of Japanese cultural studies”, “professor of history”, “associate professor of English”, “associate professor of film studies”, “professor emeritus of cinema studies”, and “professor of cinema and media studies”.]
As it turns out, though, the idea of an academic with a title like “professor of anime studies” is no longer that far-fetched. As per an announcement posted on AcademicJobsOnline, Boston University’s Department of World Languages and Literatures is currently seeking to hire a new faculty member with the title of “Assistant Professor, East Asian Visual Media and Popular Culture”, and expertise in “film, television, animation, graphic novels, or new media.” The announcement also notes a “strong preference for transnational research reflecting the increasingly globalized sphere of popular culture across East Asia and potentially including South Asia” and that applications are sought from “scholars whose work includes critical perspectives on race, ethnicity, gender, and sexualities”. Requirements for the position include a PhD at time of appointment, and proficiency in an East Asian language, as well as a “research and publication agenda”. The position will start on July 1, 2017, and although there is no hard deadline for applying, submissions by November 15 are preferred.
To the best of my knowledge, BU does not currently offer any classes on anime/manga, and there are none of the department’s faculty members describe themselves as interested in these topics, although the department’s chair, Prof. J. Keith Vincent, was one of the translators for the University of Minnesota Press’s 2011 edition of Beautiful Fighting Girl, one of only a couple of examples of Japanese anime scholarship that are available in English translation. And, of course, there is no guarantee that once someone is hired for this position, that person will in fact focus on or even be interested in anime/manga, as opposed to live-action film or television – or, for that matter, Japan, rather than Korea, China, or another East Asian country. Nonetheless, just seeing this kind of announcement marks another important point in the development of anime/manga studies as not just an area of academic interest, but a defined and vibrant academic field.