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.
After the success of the first Anime and Manga Studies Symposium at the 2011 Anime Expo, it was clear that the idea of academic presentations included in the program of a major American anime convention was something that fans were ready to welcome. So, in the spring of 2012, I began planning to repeat the Symposium at AX 2012, and when the convention opened its doors, was able to welcome a new group of scholars, representing institutions from around the U.S., as well as two European schools, to the Symposium.
AX 2012 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium – Schedule
Friday, June 29
Keynote Address: Jeffrey Dym (Professor, History, California State University, Sacramento)
Adventures in teaching ‘The History of Manga’
Trying to ask what exactly is meant by an academic discipline, field or area is a question that is almost so broad as to be meaningless. Of course, it’s still a question that is asked plenty of times – as, for example, Paul Ward does in Animation studies, disciplinarity and discursitivity (Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 3:2). But one way to at least begin asking this question is to operationalize it – to move away from what a field is, and towards the question of what do those working in this field actually do, and how. There is a general answer – scholars in a particular field think about particular topics, work with particular materials, answer particular questions. And there is an answer that is even more specific – scholars in a particular field produce knowledge that takes specific – and quantifiable – forms. And one way to gain at least some understanding of any particular academic field is by looking at how that field produces knowledge.
At the very basic level, this means examining a particular field’s “research output”, “publication patterns” or “publishing behavior”. That is, what kind of writing is expected of scholars in the field? Does it take the form of journal articles, book chapters, stand-alone books? And what are the proportions of each of those type of output to each other? A typical example of this kind of question and analysis is Huang and Chang’s Characteristics of research output in social sciences and the humanities.
The largest and most prominent contribution that I make to anime and manga studies is compiling and editing the Online Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – a continuously expanding record of scholarly publications on Japanese animation and comics, anime fans, the industry, and related topics. The public version of the Bibliography is currently on hiatus, but I continue to maintain a searchable database of publications that I plan to use as the heart of a new and redesigned Online Bibliography.
In the meanwhile, though, the database allows me to survey the overall landscape of publication in anime and manga, to locate publications with specific titles, on specific subjects, written by specific authors and appearing in particular specific journals and other sources. I draw on it the to promote “anime and manga studies” as an established area of study and to assist colleagues in their own work. And, I can use the database to generate stable, persistent lists of publications in anime and manga studies that may be of interest for anybody who is interested in this topic.
Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, 2013 Ed.
At this point, what do we definitely know about Dani Cavallaro? She is the author of at least 22 books, including 13 on anime. These books are available at many academic libraries – the OCLC FirstSearch database indicates that more than 500 own copies of The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. And her work has been acknowledged by other scholars. But what do we know about Dani Cavallaro the person? What is her academic background? How is she actually qualified to write about Japanese animation and comics?
And, more importantly, how have readers evaluated her work?
When looking at any academic field, one particular feature that’s worth examining is who exactly are the prominent – prolific and highly-cited – authors in this field. What colleges are they affiliated with, what are their positions and job titles, how did they end up where they are. In anime and manga studies, a few prominent names come to mind right away – Fred Schodt, Susan Napier, Antonia Levi, Thomas Lamarre. And one more name that certainly comes up often enough is Dani Cavallaro.
At first glance, it should be easy to assume that Cavallaro is a scholar of the same caliber as someone like Napier – and maybe even more. And if pure quantity of published writing is anything to go by, she is certainly worth noticing. Amazon lists her as the author of 22 books . 13 of them, from last year’s Japanese Aesthetics and Anime, and goign back to 2006’s The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki, are specifically on Japanese animation. In terms of individual books authored, this makes her the single most productive scholar currently writing on anime in English.
The End of “Cool” Japan?: Ethical, Legal, Political and Cultural Challenges for Japanese Popular Culture Teachers, Researchers and Students
Organizers: University of Michigan Department of Screen Arts & Cultures and Center for Japanese Studies
Location: University of Michigan, North Quad Space 2435 (Ann Arbor, MI)
Date: April 5, 2014
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. (more…)
One of the easiest, most straight-forward ways of finding new publications on topics related to anime or manga is simply to identify journals that have published anime/manga articles in the past, and pay attention to these journals’ upcoming issues. Of course, plenty of times, a journal might feature an anime article once – and never again. Other times, relevant articles may be few and far between. But, just as with many other academic areas, anime/manga studies has a list of “core” journals that specifically welcome papers on Japanese animation and comics.
Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal is definitely one of these core titles. Its goal is straight-forward – the journal “provides the first cohesive international peer-reviewed publishing platform for animation that unites contributions from a wide range of research agendas and creative practice.” And, since the journal began publication, in 2006, it has been one of the most consistent and reliable sources for new research on Japanese animation.
The latest issue – Volume 9, Issue 1 (March 2014), is now available. And once again, it features a new and noteworthy paper on a Japanese animated series.
Minguez-Lopez, Xavier (2014). Folktales and other references in Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 9(1), 27-46.
The new March 2014 issue of the journal Pacific Affairs features, as one of the articles in its East Asian Cultural Industries special section, a paper by Nissim Otmazgin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on Anime in the US: The entrepreneurial dimensions of globalized culture. The article’s abstract summarizes it as one that “[d]rawing on interviews with Japanese and American key personnel in the anime industry, field research and market surveys…focuses on the organizational aspect of the anime market in the United States since the mid-1990s, with particular attention to the role of entrepreneurs.” I am going through the article right now, and will probably have some comments on it in the next few days, but just looking at the title and the abstract brings up one question that I’ve always found interesting.
Anime and manga studies is a field that is inherently interdisciplinary. It intersects – and takes from – of course literature, film, and Japanese studies, but research on anime/manga can draw on theories and methods from dozens of other subjects. From law to developmental psychology, from library and information science to history, from folklore studies to translatology – scholarship on Japanese animation and comics has found a place for itself in all of these areas – and in many more.