We interrupt our regular Tokyo journal to mention that last weekend I had the incredible honor of speaking at MIT about gender and sexuality in Japanese animation. Many thanks to Cassie Huang and Emily Lowe of the Women’s Studies dept and to the MIT Anime Club who were very, very cool!
The program was titled Schoolgirls and Superheroines: Gender and Sexuality in Japanese Anime.
Keridwen Luis was the first speaker – she did a great paper on shoujo anime from an anthropological perspective. Her discussion focused on “agency” – the active element, as opposed to passivity, that affected female characters in shoujo anime.
The next speaker was Dr. Sarah Frederick, who discussed Utena in relation to the work of Yoshiya Nobuko, an early 20th century Japanese popular writer. Her presentation was fascinating to me as I have a real interest in Yoshiya’s place in the origins of shoujo conventions.
I’m no academic, so I basically did what I always do – I cracked ’em up. I wasn’t profound, but they laughed a lot, which was all I cared about. I presented them with a basic history of anime and manga, some definitions; I made up some “archetypes” of the portrayal of women, contrasting the conventions of shoujo and shounen anime and manga. I finished up with a discussion of fandom and it’s role in portrayal and creation of gender and sexual roles in the field. And we all had lots o’fun.
I will be putting the text of all three lectures at the Yuricon Essays page under the title of MIT lectures (duh) so you can all read what we talked about. It was some good stuff!
Last but not least, here’s a mention of an upcoming appearance – in April in New York City, the New Festival, NYC’s Gay and Lesbian Film Fest will be showing the Utena movie and Fake. I may or may not be presenting them, and there may or may not be a Queer Anime panel – if there is, I’ll be on it. In any case, I’ll be there doing promotion for Yuricon, so drop by and say hi!
I’ll upload the next bit of the Tokyo Journal real soon – promise!!