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Monday and Wednesday, 8:30-10am
North Quad 1155

Instructor: Allison Alexy
aalexy [at]
Office: 2128 Lane Hall [map]
Office hours: Tuesday 1 to 4pm, and by appointment. Please sign up via Google Calendar.

Japan, Japanese people, and Japanese things occupy a surprisingly central place in many personal and collective fantasies. From anime characters to misconceptions about samurai, Japanese goods and ideas exert important influence far beyond Japan. At the same time, fantasies within contemporary Japan tell us about current social debates and possibilities there. Exploring both common fantasy images and more complicated realities, occurring within and beyond Japan, this seminar investigates the social effects of such fantasizing. Engaging theories about orientalism, exoticism, fantasy, and the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, we examine a range of readings and films. The course requirements include regular writing assignments, two papers, and participation in discussions. No knowledge of Japanese language, history, or culture is necessary, although those with particular interests are welcome to engage them critically.

The above image comes from Blade Runner, where LA-of-the-future (set in 2019!) actually seems a lot like Japan of the 1980s. I’m always happy to have a conversation about why / how the future in American entertainment is represented through Japanese or Chinese cultural appropriation (see Firefly, The Fifth Element, etc.). Please notice that in the new version of Blade Runner, Japanese language seems to have been replaced with Korean, a decision well worth some analysis! (In this trailer, there is a tiny bit of Japanese at 2:02, so maybe they’re mixing languages? Or Japanese is the old future and Korean is the new future? Maybe we should just wait until the film comes out, huh, before we start analyzing it.)