My colleague Stevi Grimm and I are happy to announce the lineup for our session “Teaching Anime and Manga,” scheduled for the April 2018 convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This session emerges out of presentations Stevi Grimm and I have given at Anime Expo’s annual Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, particularly our discussions how we have used various Japanese animated and comics series in teaching critical thinking, composition, gender studies, and literature.
While the Northeast Modern Language Association is a language and literature conference, we welcome proposals that incorporate anime and manga outside of strictly language and literature courses: proposals may consider the use of these texts in courses on history, music, science, and more–because as long as there is an anime or manga about just about anything, there is likely one that fits almost any class.
Please consider sharing the call for papers below with interested colleagues. 300-word abstracts are due online September 30, 2017, at https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/16923. If you have any questions for Stevi and me, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter @dereksmcgrath.
Thanks to all who turned out for the Northeast Modern Language Association’s session on Edgar Allan Poe in popular culture! Now I’m about to present at 11:45 AM Eastern as part of the DC vs Marvel panel. Follow along with this linked slide presentation, and feel free to submit questions there or on Twitter, hashtags #NeMLA17 #S621.
Fire Force. Written and illustrated by Atsushi Ohkubo. Translated into English by Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley. Kodansha, 2016.
Shinra Kusakabe wants to be a hero. Having lost his mother and infant brother in a fire, he has joined a fire department to save others from similar fates.
But this fire department doesn’t just put out fires. They also fight fire monsters that plague Tokyo.
And Shinra himself has fire abilities similar to these demons.
Oh, and everything’s on fire.
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).
I was at Anime Expo in Los Angeles this week, participating in a successful panel on options for using Japanese animation and comics in the classroom.
I recorded the following, which you can listen to here.
This was my first out-of-town fan convention, and my first academic presentation at a fan convention. I want to start by first thanking Mikhail Koulikov and Brent Allison with the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation for organizing our panel, “Using Anime and Manga in Education.”
Anime Expo was a packed convention, with more than 100,000 attendees at panels, workshops, and events happening almost back-to-back from morning to night. Our panel, as part of the Anime Symposium educational series, had almost a full audience throughout our 50-minute or so running time, with more than 100 people in attendance, all of which demonstrates how well all three of us who presented did to inform an audience of teachers and students about options for using Japanese animation and comics in classrooms–and also managing to accomplish so much when about a quarter of our panel’s time was cut.
Next Sunday, I’ll be in Los Angeles to participate in a special session hosted at Anime Expo, the largest North American anime convention. Each year, Anime Expo features an Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, which seeks to facilitate the development of anime and manga studies as defined fields of study. Our special session, “Using Anime and Manga in Education,” on Sunday, July 3, 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM, considers how we use Japanese popular culture in the classroom.
My presentation, “Dudes Need Blush Stickers, Too: Incorporating Anime and Manga into Gender Studies Courses,” builds upon presentations I have given at the Modern Language Association and the Northeast Modern Language Association, regarding potential gender-related double-standards in certain anime and manga, and how these texts provoke important discussions in literature and gender studies courses.
Much of this presentation is based on my own involvement, online and at conventions, in fan communities, and my own practices to identify gendered differences in character portrayals. For example, as shown in the image above, I have used PhotoShop to show differences between how characters, along gendered lines, are portrayed in some anime with or without blush on their cheeks. In one anime, Soul Eater NOT, these so-called “blush stickers” are often featured on female but not on male characters. To identify the difference and how it may alter the portrayal of characters, I applied this blush in PhotoShop to a male character, Death the Kid, and use this example to motivate discussions about
The session description and my presentation’s description are below. Thanks to the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, as well as Brent Allison and Mikhail Koulikov, for organizing this special session.
Special Session: Using Anime and Manga in Education
Moderator: Prof. Brent Allison (University of North Georgia)
- Creating Confident Readers Through Unconventional Texts
Stevi Grimm (Jefferson Union High School District, Daly City, CA)
- Digital Literacy: Expanding Students’ Literary Toolkits with Manga
Alexandra Dean (Eastern Illinois University)
- Incorporating Anime and Manga into Gender Studies Courses
Derek S. McGrath (Stony Brook University)
In this session, three practicing educators provide responses to the question of how manga, anime, and other Japanese popular culture texts can be incorporated in a formal classroom setting. Old and new challenges to educators color this question – proscribed academic standards that limit teacher autonomy, barriers to students who struggle with traditional forms of literacy, and persistent conceptions of gender that reinforce certain types of readings of these texts. The session will review strategies to overcome these problems as well as engage the audience to consider how using Japanese popular culture texts can redefine gender, literacy, and ultimately what it means to “read.”
“Dudes Need Blush Stickers, Too: Incorporating Anime and Manga into Gender Studies Courses”
While writing my PhD in literature and gender studies, I have participated in online fan communities around anime and manga. In these communities, I draw upon my experiences in teaching to write and collaborate with other fans towards analysis of various texts, whether through liveblogs and re-blogged discussions, or roleplay, wiki development, and PhotoShopping. Content I develop has identified problematic representations in certain texts work, whether silencing of female characters or gendered disparities such as the application of “blush stickers” to female characters but not male characters (as I show visually by PhotoShopping screen captures to add blush stickers to male characters).
Discussions on these topics that I have hosted in the classroom, at fan and academic conventions, and online have influenced the design of my syllabi and lesson plans, which integrate anime and manga into the teaching of works in United States literature. My courses identify bidirectional influences in United States and Japanese popular culture, and my syllabi incorporate traditional and untraditional assignments: in addition to researched analytical essays, lessons provide students with opportunities to contribute to wikis, to create and to analyze fan fiction, and to use roleplay and PhotoShop to draw out alternative interpretations from assigned texts.
Over the course of the semester, students come to understand various works in anime and manga not only through analysis but through creation: they learn to recognize potential cultural, formal, and textual differences between the United States and Japan, and how their own situated perspective can affect interpretation. This has been particularly valuable in teaching gender studies to students who are interested in feminist analysis of manga and anime.
The last few weeks have been busy for me in considering comics and the superhero genre: I’m slowly working through a response to Netflix’s Daredevil (and the frustrating responses I have read regarding its representation of gender, and my frustration with a seeming lack of attention to its representations of race). And the next two weeks will be busy for me as well—not only because of Age of Ultron on Friday and Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, but also because I am presenting at two conferences on consecutive weekends.
I’m in Toronto this week for the 46th annual meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association. In addition to marketing the conference, including through our Facebook and Twitter pages, I have co-organized with Rafael Ponce-Cordero and Keith McCleary two sessions on “Comedy and Comics.” I also will present at one panel on my research of—and participation in—online satire centered around the superhero genre. “Comedy and Comics” begins Friday, May 1, at 3:00 PM. I have included the panels’ schedule and my abstract below.
The next weekend, I present on using Japanese animation and comics in the classroom at Dartmouth College’s Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference. I’m excited to share my experiences as a fan and a teacher of popular culture towards creating lesson plans, course web pages, and other content to more effectively teach about and teach with anime and manga. The conference’s schedule is available here, and my abstract is below as well.
“Pursuing Two Passions: On Being a Graduate Student and Something Else” (Session #74) will be held on Thursday, January 8, at the Vancouver Convention Centre for the 2015 meeting of the Modern Language Association.
Pursuing Two Passions: On Being a Graduate Student and Something Else
Thursday, 8 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., West 217, VCC West
Presiding: Kristal Bivona, Univ. of California, Los Angeles Vice-President, the Graduate Student Caucus
This roundtable explores the challenges and rewards of pursuing another passion concurrently with graduate study. Participants reflect on what it means to be a student and “something else,” to lead a “double life,” in order to share approaches and tactics for being successful at both passions. Topics include alt-ac careers, having a family, activism, and hobbies.
Thanks again to the Graduate Student Caucus for inviting me to join this discussion. Please read the participants’ bios below and here.