Kyoto Asian Studies Group April meeting

Niels  Van Steenpaal's picture

Dear colleagues,

The speaker for the April meeting of the Kyoto Asian Studies Group is Adam L. Kern, who will present “Global Comics: The View from Early Modern Japanese Kusazōshi” (see abstract below).


The talk will be held on Friday, April 7th, 18:00-20:00 Seminar Room 8 (8演習室), on the basement floor of Research Bldg. No. 2 (総合研究2号館), on the Kyoto University Main Campus (see link below for access information).





Global Comics: The View from Early Modern Japanese Kusazōshi



The woodblock-printed comics and graphic novels of early modern Japan (1600-1868), collectively known as kusazōshi, were phenomenally popular in their day, being both produced by the leading authors of popular literature and artists of ukiyoe and consumed by large swaths of the reading public. This talk presents an overview of a multivolume anthology of kusazōshi in English translation, titled “Early Modern Japanese Graphic Narrative: An Anthology of Kusazōshi”. The project is under contract with Routledge for publication in 2025. Over 20 contributors affiliated with universities from 5 countries are involved in preparing the approximately 30 translations in three volumes running to approximately 1500 pages and covering the genres of akahon, kurohon, aohon, kibyōshi, and gōkan.             

Among the many conspicuous features of kusazōshi is its hyper self-reflexivity, meaning the tendency for a text to aggressively draw attention to the constructed nature of itself as a text. Given that early modern Japan on the main was cut off from the Western world, it is surprising that contemporaneous comics outside of Japan, particularly in Europe and the Americas, but also elsewhere, displayed (and, indeed, continue to display) hyper self-reflexivity. In discussing possible explanations for this unexpected commonality, the talk provides fresh insight into kusazōshi and its relationship with contemporary Japanese manga, Western comics and graphic novels, and what might be termed Global Comics.


Adam L. Kern is Professor of Japanese Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Fulbright Visiting Professor, Department of Japanese Literature, University of Tokyo)


For access information see:
(the venue is on the south side of the basement floor of the building listed on the map as nr. 34)


Please refrain from bringing food or drinks into the meeting room.


Contact: Niels van Steenpaal,



About the Kyoto Asian Studies Group:

The KASG is a long-standing Kyoto-based research network that hosts monthly research presentations by experts from various Asian Studies fields. Emphasizing long Q&A sessions, we aim to provide an informal atmosphere in which scholars can freely exchange ideas concerning both finished and in-progress research. Admission is free, and we always welcome new members and presenters.