May 2021: Conversations on the Current State of Japanese Film and Media Studies, a series of talks to be held each Friday (16:00 PDT) via Zoom.
Occurring via Zoom each Friday (16:00 – 17:30 PDT) in May 2021
As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has yet to provide us any credible sign of containment, we come to accumulate deep anxieties about the future prospect for Japanese film and media studies. But it must be misleading if we regard our current difficult situation merely as an abnormal, unexpected hiatus in the steady progress of our discipline, a hiatus that would automatically disappear when we resume international research travels and in-person academic gatherings after the majority of people in this world get vaccinated and become resistant to the virus. One obvious challenge in this new era of global pandemic is the increasing difficulty of conducting traditional, site-specific archival research in Japan or in any “foreign” countries than where we are now. However, even before the outbreak of the pandemic, we have already entered into a new stage in the historical development of Japan/Area Studies where being a specialist the culture and history of a given particular locale like Japan can no longer guarantee us a successful landing on a stable, tenure-track academic position. In this respect, it seems more appropriate to understand the current situation as an acceleration of the same disciplinary or methodological crisis that has already been with us.
With this observation in mind, “Conversations on the Current State of Japanese Film and Media Studies” will bring together leading scholars from Japan, North America, and the United Kingdom to discuss how to reinvent our shared interest in Japan and its screen and media culture as a form of critical investigation into contemporary problematics in the Humanities. This online workshop is composed of four independent sessions led by two main speakers and one discussant, and each will take place once a week (Friday afternoon in California; Saturday morning in Japan) throughout May 2021. Topics addressed in each session include historical formation of film and media studies in Japan since the 1990s,revaluation of the avant-garde art movement and politics in the 1950s, rearticulation of media theory and practice in Japan from the perspective of ecology and environment, and ongoing efforts to enhance transnational collaboration through book publication and program building. Instead of giving a normal presentation, the event will take the form of open table discussion so that both invited speakers and audience members can freely exchange their opinions, concerns, and anxieties about our uncertain present and future.