With another academic term now finished, it’s once again a good time to highlight how colleges around the U.S. are actively including anime and manga in their course offerings! At this point, in of itself, a class on anime/manga is no longer anything particularly unusual – since Susan Napier taught what was likely the first such class almost twenty years ago now, there have been dozens of others, at colleges and universities of all types, and all around the country. More are announced frequently – and the ways they are described in marketing and publicity materials are themselves interesting to consider.
For example, several days ago, Washington State University’s WSU Insider news website profiled “Transnational Anime: Japanese Animation History and Theory”, which will be offered through the School of Languages, Cultures, and Race in the spring. The number of students in the class is capped at 30 – and 30 students are currently listed as enrolled. A noteworthy thing about this class is that in order to hire an instructor to teach it, the School successfully applied for a $30,000 grant from the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles.
College classes on comics and graphic novels in general – Western and non-Western – are even more common. But only a few colleges offer not just single classes, but actual formal academic programs in comics studies. Among them is San Francisco State University, which just recently launched an undergraduate comics studies minor. The minor requires a total of 12 credits, and starting in the Spring 2019 term, one of the possible electives that can be used to fulfill the requirement will be Topics in Comics: Manga!
“Curious about manga or want to test your otaku knowledge? Discover the hidden histories of manga in Japan and worldwide; read pioneering works and become familiar with the culture and circumstances that gave rise to one of the most famous exports of Japan! We will focus on transformations in the look and feel of manga over the last century, examining relationships with fashion trends and visual arts. We will also pay attention to the kinds of relationships manga set up with their audiences, and look at the reception history of manga in popular culture (including cosplay, dojinshi, fan-fiction, manga cafés, and more) and scholarship. “
These two are probably not the only classes on anime/manga to launch in the Spring 2019 term. So, if you know of others – and especially if you are taking one yourself – or teaching one – I would very much like to hear from you! And, for that matter, I am currently working on additional materials about these classes, such as more background, and potentially, even interviews with the professors.