Gennifer Weisenfeld "Electric Design: Light, Labor and Leisure in Prewar Japanese Advertising" (Inaugural Koichi Takashima Lecture)

Sabine FRUHSTUCK's picture
February 24, 2021
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Asian History / Studies, Japanese History / Studies

Inaugural Koichi Takashima Lecture at UC Santa Barbara

Electric Design: Light, Labor and Leisure in Prewar Japanese Advertising Gennifer Weisenfeld, Duke University

Wednesday, 24 February, 4–5:30pm PST

Electricity is a powerful enabling technology. It is also a social and cultural force of unparalleled proportions that has forever altered the landscape of daily life around the world. Certainly electricity produced bright lights in big cities; it was the visual language of the modern urban metropolis: burlesques, cinema, and illuminated signboards. It also facilitated the production of modern domesticity through the purveying of goods in the burgeoning consumer market. Nevertheless, electricity did not market or sell itself. Two companies at the forefront of creating this market that were actively engaged in innovative advertising design throughout the twentieth century were Tōshiba and Matsushita. This presentation explores the industry’s important cultivation of a nascent consumer market for electrical goods in the prewar period, and the role of graphic design and advertising in aestheticizing, visualizing, and commodifying the seemingly transformative social powers of electric energy. ZOOM LINK:

Contact Info: 
Sabine Frühstück
Koichi Takashima Chair in Japanese Cultural Studies
Center for Taiwan Studies, Interim Director
Professor, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-7075
Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan (University of California Press, 2017)
General Editor of book series “New Interventions in Japanese Studies” (University of California Press)