Abstracts

Zayer BAAZAOUI is a PhD student in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at the University of Miami. My research interest is the relationship maintained between literature and History through the novels of different francophone writers from different areas (Caribbean, North African, Middle Eastern, and West).  I’m also interested in Queer, Women’s and Gender Studies, Cultural studies and the French theory.

Interculturality as a Writing Strategy in The Character of Rain of Amélie Nothomb

The literary work is inseparable from the memory of its creator and the society in which it takes its source. Indeed, it does not born ex nihilo. Social and cultural events are used as a starting point or raw material to the writer in order to edit his literary enterprise. Thus literary works can be seen as a bridge between different cultures. Amélie Nothomb, born August 13 1967 in Kobe, Japan, is a Belgian French-speaking writer, whose work reflects a cosmopolitan culture in which dominate the echoes of the Japanese world and the Christian culture, has the talent to go back to her past of small child, to use a multi-cultural heritage in order to revive them by stories in which she is involved. Japan is mentioned in all her novels, even those who are not autobiographical. Therefore, her entire work is immersed in the atmosphere of otherness, with all that the term can cover on the spatial, temporal, intellectual and ideological levels. In my essay, I study her novel The Character of Rain (Métaphysique des Tubes in french) which traces the crucial years of Amélie Nothomb’s Childhood. These early years that she spent in Japan are operated in this narration. I argue that the use of Japanese culture and myths such as considering a three years old child as a God are not only mentioned to show the Japanese influence on Nothomb’s writing but it is above all a strategy at the service of the autobiographical text. In conclusion, by closely examining this novel, this essay shows the importance of the Japanese myths in the development of the personality of the autobiographer and how they are useful for the author to build her autobiography.

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Luca Paolo BRUNO is currently enrolled in University of Venice ca’ Foscari’s Master Degree in Languages and civilisations of Asia and mediterranean Africa. His research interests include visual culture approaches to Japanese visual novels, Other and otherlessness within otaku texts and Japanese Science Fiction.

Righting the occupation: pop-nationalism in Sōkōakki Muramasa

The mutual representations of both Japanese and Western essences through Japanese video games, and in particular, science-fiction visual novel adventure games, see a very interesting interplay of both self-exotism that evokes a contrast between cultures, with continued appeals to Japanese tradition while also depicting western characters in an occidentalist light. This led to mutual images interacting in a way that is both reminiscent of Iwabuchi Koichi’s complicit exoticism (See Iwabuchi 1996) and of revanchist tendencies proper to millenial net-nationalism expressed by the so called net- uyoku of Japan (see Galbraith, Thiam Huat Kam,Björn-Ole Kamm 2015). This presentation will aim to examine the interplay of mutual images within the Japanese PC adventure game Sōkōakki Muramasa. How does this mutual interplay relate to otaku (geek) fandom within Japan? How is the interplay of exoticized depiction employed? The presentation will attempt to examine this question by approaching a visual novel PC Game which uses a science-fictional re-envisioning of the Japanese postwar occupation by the Allied Powers. What is of extreme interest is the depiction of the relationship between fictionalized Imperial Japan and the United States, as both countries are exoticized; Japan is positively represented through an auto-orientalist lens while the Allied Powers (mainly represented through anglo-american stereotypes) are negatively represented through an occidentalist lens which sub/super views the West and monster-ifies it (see Miyake 2015). The interplay of -isms and the science-fictionalization of Imperial Japan through a self- orientalist lens while also employing an occidentalizing view of the Allied Powers shows the development of a pop-nationalist power fantasy by a part of the otaku audience. I argue that such a study would further advance Japanese studies by examining the mostly unexplored media of the visual novel and how it is shaping male Japanese otaku culture.

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Maxime DANESIN is a Modern Literature PhD Student at François-Rabelais University, Tours (France), and the Vice-president of Mutual Images in charge of events. His field of research is Transtextuality and Transculture in Contemporary Literature, focusing on the area of exchanges between Japan and Europe, especially in light novel and manga. His doctoral thesis is titled “European Motifs in Contemporary Japanese Literature”.

Reshaping historical and legendary European figures in the Fate’s universe

In the 21st century, the impressive growth of cultural exchanges implies a strong stimulation to local imaginaries and personal imaginations. More than ever, fragments of One’s culture are transferred and assimilated, deformed, restructured by an Other’s. Among those, some serve as new raw materials for writers and are used in various ways, whether it is as an historical background, a parodic one, fantasized and exotic characters, or even as moe-elements in the otaku database (Azuma Hiroki, 2001). This creates a great opportunity to witness an exponential development of transcultural and transtextual productions. This way, the circulation of cultural elements amplifies as well the chance of revitalizing – understood as giving a second life – and hybridising ancient ones in unexpected areas. In the meantime, the reorganisation of cultural elements through fictional works challenges and modifies their perception by the readers. The more foreign the fragments are to the readership, the more fictionnalisation might influence them – even more when they possess a limited knowledge of their original values. For researchers in literature, the consequences of such a situation in our century ought to arouse their curiosity since it confronts numerous concepts (i.e. nationality, identity, the impact of fictionnalisation …). And amidst the areas of contemporary cultural exchanges, the “crossroad” where Europe encounters Japan is worthy of interest. In this paper, I intend to observe how some historical and legendary figures of European cultures are reshaped through the prism of a successful Japanese popular work: Fate/Stay night – and its universe. Created by Type-Moon, in 2004, as a visual novel composed of three different scenarios, it has been adapted in manga and animation following the principles of the media-mix strategy – as well as its prequel, Fate/Zero, first published as a light novel (2006-2007). In a transcultural and transtextual approach, I study how this fiction offers a peculiar approach of European characters (King Arthur, Cú Chulainn, Alexander the Great…), challenges the readers’ perception, as well as reactivates ancient elements in the 21 st century.

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Manuel HERNANDEZ-PEREZ is Lecturer in Digital Design at University of Hull (UK) where he is also the Game and Entertainment design programme leader for the School of Drama, Music and Screen. He has also been visitor researcher in the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and The University of Edinburgh where he has conducted research about Narrative, Psychology and Media reception. In his professional career, he has worked with different agents in the media sphere such as foundations, TV channels and producer houses. He successfully completed his PhD in Spain in 2013 with the publication of his thesis: “Cross-Media Narrative in the Context of the Japanese Entertainment Industry. Manga, Anime and Videogames” that will be published as a book in 2017. In the last two years, He has also published articles and book chapters on videogames and social networks narrative aspects and, more recently, on Japanese media industries with a special focus on cross-media narratives and cross-cultural readings of the manga and anime products.

Memories of the grateful visitor. A look at recent Spanish spaces, ethnography and material artifacts through Japanese Entertainment Industries

Audiences from all over the world may differ in the way they perceive a particular country or cultural tradition. Even when it is possible to argue that fictionality can’t be really isolated from any kind of representational form, communicational genres might contribute significantly to this variability. This phenomenon is made clearer when media and genre are linked to the existence of certain narrative components (or narrativity). As individual narrators, we constantly experiment with the difference vantage points. It might be said that we even “enjoy” the way cultural depictions are deformed, through the influence of spatial, temporal and, eventually, psychological individualities. This process, necessarily, has to work together with the denotative and referential nature of communicational genres.

In this paper, I propose some core elements for the description and understanding of Spain and the Spanish through the Visual Culture and Entertainment made in Japan. This image, while from an inner point of view might result rough and debatable, makes more sense in terms of foreigner reception. My main hypothesis will be that the understanding and enjoyment of contemporary Spanish Culture has been dissolved in a kind of representation similar to that from vivid and performative representation (memories). While it can be argued that any country will elicit similar ways of mediatized interaction, it is clear that countries and national identities have acquired different connotations, a difference that has been studied through constructs such as ‘National Branding’ or ‘Soft Power’. That is to say, from cognitive and marketing perspectives, they create products that evoke different meanings among international audiences. Spain is for Japanese audiences and markets primarily a desirable tourist destination where fictionality plays an essential role in the construction of spaces and cultural artifacts (tangible and intangible). Several examples of these processes will be analyzed with the aim of test my hypothesis while examining some fictional representations from the main Japanese entertainment industries.

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Fabio D. PALUMBO holds a PhD in Aesthetics from Università degli Studi di Messina (Italy). His field of research is Postmodernism and Psychoanalysis, focusing mainly on Gilles Deleuze and Melanie Klein. He is also interested in the philosophical implications and interpretations of Japanese pop culture, including manga, animation and live action movies.

Telling stories about Japan: contemporary Italian literature re-inventing Japan

Eco’s Theory of Semiotics (1976) points out that cultural units are organized networks of meanings, so that semantic fields pertain to a specific culture’s world view. Narrative processes, specifically, takes part participating in sensemaking and the generation of meanings. Narrative processes take place within a cultural context, and can be studied via a diatextual approach to the discursive structures. Contextualization in narrative enunciations means not only using elements of actorialization, spatialization and temporalization, but also ‘dramatizing’ of the relationship between Self and Other through «cultural metaphors» (Gannon 2011). This paper explores three texts from post-WWII Italian literature, showing three different representations or ‘narrative uses’ of Japan: Il re dei giapponesi (1949), an unfinished novel by Pier Paolo Pasolini; L’aiola di sabbia from Italo Calvino’s Palomar (1983); Seta (1996), a short novel form Alessandro Baricco. An essential framework is provided about the relationship of the three authors with Japanese culture, including biographic and literary aspects. In these texts, I examine the distinct meaning of Japan’s metaphors, highlighting the different levels of exoticism in Japan’s description, and to the degree of the subjects’ involvement in terms of their relationship with otherness (embrayage or débrayage). Japan can be used in literary fiction as a ‘pretext’ (Pasolini), as a setting (Baricco), or as a context (Calvino). I; in any case, it, and still serves as a cultural metaphor: a rhetorical apparatus conveying portrayals of Japan to Italian contemporary culture with different degrees of verisimilitude, ranging from an almost fable-like scenery to a vague historical background and or a peculiar biographical frame.

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Aurore YAMAGATA-MONTOYA is a PhD Student at the University of the West of England, and a lecturer at the Institut Marc Perrot- Sainte Marie Lyon (France). She is one of the organisers of the Mutual Images Workshops. Aurore situates her interest at the junction of the fields of photography, childhood and Japanese studies. Her current research focuses the construction and representation of national identity through institutional photography. Her publications include ‘Sensei in the Picture: Teachers and Pupils in Japanese School Album Photographs (1942-2010)’ (ed. Damrow and Hearn, 2014). Her thesis is titled ‘Disciplining the Japanese Child: Imagined Childhood in Institutional Photographs since the Second World War’.

Photographic exhibitions of children in Japan: between nationalism and universalism

Since the years 2000s, exhibitions focusing on representations of children, whether paintings or photographs, artistic or documentary, proliferated in Japan. Not only do museums ‘acquire, preserve, disseminate and exhibit’ but they also articulate a discourse through processes of exclusion and inclusion, as well as many other curatorial choices regarding the material display possibilities or more general cultural policies influencing the place and time and arrangement of the display space. In this paper I consider several major photographic exhibitions to highlight the fictions they create surrounding both childhood and nationalism.

Children are central in the national imagining, as emblems of past and future. Children bodies and childhood are constructed as imagining of the nation’s past. Each museum, each exhibition has adopted different strategies of representing childhood. They are linked to the difference in the goals and status of the museum. I will focus on the construction of concepts of the Other and Self, through highlighting how the concepts of nationalism and universalism underpin the strategies of curating.