In 2018 Sweden and Japan celebrate 150 years of diplomatic relations. This occasion provides an excellent opportunity to reconceptualize the study of Japanese culture in a way which meets the requirements of an increasingly networked and digitalized world. Our conference seeks to do that with a Media Studies approach that puts the emphasis on netretaining media, entwines the technological, social and aesthetic, and acknowledges the importance of everyday practices by non-elite actors. The objective is to revisit the potential and limitations of a privileged academic focus on “area,” in the sense of geopolitics (Japan) as well as subject matter (comics/manga), and to place greater emphasis on how to operate Japan-related expertise as contemporary humanities-based research. The focus on mediation in the broadest sense, which will be specified using the example of manga/comics, shall be applied to the relation between Japanese Studies and (East)Asian Studies, and between media (rather than “medium”) specificity and the “post-medium condition.”
The conference will be divided in three parts addressing the key issues of “Japan as Mangaesque” (related to the highly mediatized nature of contemporary Japanese culture and its global and local mediations rather than national branding), “Manga Pedagogy” (applying the mediatic perspective to methodologies of manga studies within university programs and academic scholarship), and “Manga as Comics” (foregrounding media specifity in relation to comics in collaboration with the Nordic Network of Comics Research [NNCORE], in order to go beyond manga studies as a primarily Japan-related area).
Thanks to funding granted by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) and other sponsors, about half of the talks will be given by invited speakers. To complement the invited talks, we welcome proposals for individual talks of 15-20 min. length, to be held in sessions 2 (“Manga Pedagogy”) and 3 (“Manga as Comics”). Preference will be given to papers that aim to go beyond the usual approach to manga as ‘Japanese popular culture’ and/or address methodological issues related to the general theme of the conference. Japanological expertise is desirable but not essential. Proposals should rather be based on an intimate knowledge of Comics Studies and consider media specificity (as stretching from technologies and materials to aesthetic characteristics of texts and genres as well as practices and institutions). With regards to raising issues that may easily be overlooked from an area-studies perspective session 3 is hoped to benefit especially from contributions by Comics Studies scholars.
Keywords: manga, graphic narratives, comics studies, media studies, area studies, Japan
Dr. Jaqueline Berndt, Professor in Japanese Language and Culture, Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies, Stockholm University