Dudes Need Blush Stickers, Too: Incorporating Anime and Manga into Gender Studies Courses

During July 4th weekend in 2016, I presented at the Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, part of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation’s Anime Expo. Below is the copy of the presentation as I wrote it. As this was a discussion about fanservice in anime and manga, some content below is not safe for work (but censored).



Regarding “The Killing Joke” film spoilers

This story does not need to make Batman and Batgirl a couple, and potentially making Batgirl an object to be defended, as a cliche “fridged” motivation for Batman to get off his bat-butt and go stop the Joker.

I don’t write this as condemnation of a film before seeing it; I do write this to identify potential problems that seem to contradict how the film was marketed.

Spoilers below.


Primer for “Developments In Comics Pedagogy” (MLA, January 8, 2016): Comics Are Funny


On Friday, January 8, Keith McCleary (UC San Diego) and I will be leading the roundtable “Developments in Comics Pedagogy” at the Austin, Texas, meeting of the Modern Language Association.

For the next few days, in preparation for our discussion, I will be writing about what led to this roundtable, recent approaches in the teaching of comics and graphic novels, and my own contributions to this discussion about pedagogy and visual texts. Abstracts and bios for all roundtable participants are available here.

Reading the publications of roundtable colleague Maria Cardona has been helpful for understanding another approach many teachers take to comics: a recognition that there is something powerful about the laughter comics, especially comic strips, provide.

I want to consider that idea as it relates to what Maria calls subversion, and what I have tried to do tackling certain Japanese comics, and how I think both of us use these techniques to teach about gender representations. I think Maria and I are in agreement that laughter is a helpful response used by feminist approaches to comics to critique sexism.


“Daddy Don’t Get Scared!” Gender Problems in Ant-Man

The film presents its two fathers, Scott Lang and Hank Pym, as acting on behalf of their daughters. But their actions are also on behalf of themselves—to the detriment of developing one female character. And the word I repeat too often below is “frustrating.”

Ant-Man (2015, directed by Peyton Reed) is a bizarre film to watch, not only because of its complicated production history, its momentary immersion into the Microverse, or the fact that freaking Ant-Man is getting a film before Black Panther, Runaways, Captain Marvel, or Ms. Marvel. 

No, the film is also bizarre given its approach to representing men and women. 


Arthur Chu on the Masculinity in Nerd Culture, and the Violence of Gamergate against Felicia Day

Jeopardy whiz Arthur Chu had a lot to say a few weeks ago about Gamergate, as motivated by his own focus on himself as a man in nerd culture and his encounter with Felicia Day. This article is important reading for many of us to understand the hatred that the men in Gamergate have–and why they must stop this hate and violence immediately.

Teaching and gender in the nineteenth-century United States: Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars

The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession is a new book from journalist Dana Goldstein, focused on the history of education in the United States, with attention to twenty-first-century politics surrounding improvements to education, and professionalization and financial support of teachers.

Her thesis also touches upon education in the nineteenth-century United States, with attention to what Goldstein refers to as the feminization of education as a profession.  Therefore Goldstein’s book brings attention to Catharine Beecher and the Cult of True Womanhood, and her book may serve as a potentially productive complement to Ann Douglas’s The Feminization of American Culture and subsequent work to dismantle this separate spheres argument.

The New York Times offers a review here; Goldstein is interviewed by Sam Seder here.