Professor of Japanese Language and Culture at the Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies.
- Ph.D. (Dr. phil.) in Aesthetics, Humboldt University Berlin (1991), thesis on Japanese popular culture with a special focus on bestsellers in pop-literature and manga (Summa cum laude)
M.A. (DDR-Hochschuldiplom) in Japanese Studies, Humboldt University Berlin (1987), thesis on the Japanese reception of Walter Benjamin’s late writings concerning media and art (Summa cum laude)
Professor in Manga/Comics Theory (tenured), Department & Graduate School of Manga, Kyoto Seika University, Japan (2009-2017), Acting head, Graduate School of Manga (2010-2014)
Associate Professor in Art and Media Studies (tenured), Faculty of Education and Human Sciences, Yokohama National University, Japan (2001-2009)
Associate Professor in Art Sociology (tenured), Department of Social Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan (1995-2001)
Instructor of German Language, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan (1991-1995)
The Japan Foundation, Department of Japanese Studies, National University of Singapore (fall 2012)
Bridgestone Foundation, Institute of East Asian Art History, Heidelberg University (spring term 2008)
DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), Seminar of Japanology, Leipzig University (spring term 2005)
Leaning on more than twenty years of experience in teaching media-culture courses at undergraduate and graduate levels in Japanese and English, in 2017 I run the following courses at SU:
VT 2017, 2nd period
JK10100 De-Westernizing Key Concepts... [Forskarkurs, PhD candidates]
JK0400 Theories and Methods in Asian Studies [seminar, master program in Asian languages and cultures]
JKA932 Japanese Society Today [lecture, undergraduate level]
JKA920/DK05 Master course in Japanese [examiner]
Kandidatkurs, Vaasa students [examiner]
Supervisor & Opponent (discussant) for MA theses in Asian Languages and Cultures
HT 2017, 1st period
JKA111/DK14 Introduction to Japanese Studies [lecture, undergraduate level]
JKA932 Japanese Popular Culture [lecture, undergraduate level]
JKA930 Japanska VI [advanced level]
HT 2017, 2nd period
JKA918 Manga Studies [lecture, undergraduate level]
all interrelated with (a) East-Asia and (b) Europe/America:
(1) arts and media cultures in Japan (19th – 21st centuries);
(2) manga/comics studies; (3) aesthetics of anime
(1) Formation of a Scandinavian research hub dedicated to critical scholarship on East Asian arts and media
(2) Investigating possibilities of overcoming the institutional “culturalization” of East Asian arts and media by established academic disciplines (art history, film studies, and also comics studies)
Subjects and Interests
My academic production has constantly focused on Japan’s modern and contemporary visual culture, stretching from painting to entertaining fiction, in particular graphic narratives (manga), and therein the interrelation between contexts and texts, or culture and aesthetics, the latter understood as matters of form, style, materiality, sensory and affective perception.
During the early phase of my career, my focus was more on institutional fine art (folding screens in the museum space, modern traditionalist painting, i.e. nihonga, nude and naked, Yokoo Tadanori’s posters, and contemporary “Neo-pop” artists such as Murakami Takashi), while in recent years I have been engaged mainly in the formation of comics/manga studies, a newly emerging field which necessitates multidisciplinary approaches entwining media research, genre theory, narratology, visual analysis, gender studies, fan culture studies, globalization studies, discourse analysis, semiotics, and accounts of culture industries and/or creative industries. As deputy director of Kyoto Seika University’s International Manga Research Center, I organized seven international conferences (Kyoto 2009, Cologne 2010, Bucheon 2011, Kobe/Kyoto 2012, Bandung 2013, Wollongong 2014, 2015 Kyoto) and edited the respective essay collections.
Concurrently with my institutional exposure to manga studies, which involved an increased attention to media specificity, my academic production saw a methodological shift: I became more interested in speaking with or along media texts instead of merely speaking about them in a generalizing way, or to rephrase, in making the texts, in their specific individuation, speak instead of using them as mere material or illustration of larger cultural or social theories. This has affected my approach to the issues I am continuously interested in, namely:
- the critical potential of popular arts and media in relation to civil society (including historical consciousness and collective memory, representations of ethnicity, natural and man-made disasters such as 3/11 in Japan, but also notions of critique and assumptions of subversiveness)
- cultures of reading (pertaining to the analogue and the digital; script and image; signification and meaning, affect and networked relations as challenging established theories of representation)
- globalization, related to cross-cultural as intercultural exchange (between – often nationally conceived – cultures as discrete entities, including several “Japonisms”) and transcultural flows (for example, of fan cultures, that beyond nationally and geopolitically defined cultures)
Besides academic publications, the results of my research manifested themselves in two exhibitions: the worldwide traveling exhibition Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master’s Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics, organized by The Japan Foundation (first venue: Rome, 2016), introducing Japanese material to non-Japanese audiences, and Crossing Borders: Mahler’s Manga Park (Kyoto International Manga Museum, Dec. 2014 – Febr. 2015), introducing non-manga style Austrian comics artist Nicolas Mahler to Japanese manga readers.
- Positioning of manga in European academia and public discourse, with a special focus on (a) the specific potential of Japanese studies in regards to manga-culture research and (b) attention to manga from the perspective of “style” (contribution to the Japan-based project “Manga ‘Style’ Spreading Outside of Japan,” JSPS KAKENHI Grant B, headed by Prof. Fujimoto Yukari, Meiji University)
- Manga and “Art” in Japan: Discourses, Media, Aesthetic Culture (monograph project)
- “Shōjo” [girl] as media (co-editing a respective volume with Prof. Nagaike Kazumi; proposal admitted by Palgrave Macmillan)
2016_Chapter 8 “Manga, which Manga? Publication Formats, Genres, Users,” in Japanese Civilization in the 21st Century, New York: Nova Science Publishers, ed. Andrew Targowski, Juri Abe, Hisanori Katō, September 2016, pp. 121-133.
2016_“Introduction: Manga beyond Critique?,” guest editor, special issue “Manga Culture and Critique,” Kritika Kultura (peer-reviewed online journal), Ateneo de Manila University.
2016_“Drawing, Reading, Sharing: A Guide to the Manga Hokusai Manga Exhibition,” in booklet accompanying the worldwide traveling exhibition Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master’s Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics, organized by The Japan Foundation, pp. 3-38.
Participation in Conferences 2017
19-23 April 2017
Nordic Network for Comics Research (NNCORE) Conference “Comics and Memory”, Ghent University, Belgium
Panel Authenticity and truthfulness: Representing war history in comics through eye witness testimonies/graphic memoirs, paper “Beyond Authenticity: On a New Current of Alternative War Manga”
30 August - 3 September 2017 15th EAJS International Conference, New University Lisbon, Portugal
Visual Arts Section (4a) “Materialities of Visual Art”, convenor