All exam book review posts are categorized under one of my three readings lists: Media Studies and Japan, Genre Fiction in Japan’s 20th Century, and Posthuman Embodiment and Affect (all of which are detailed in the About page).  Click one of those links to filter by category in order to get an overview of a field.  I’ve made a couple of posts related to a class I taught under the Teaching tag, and I’ll add to that as I teach (and think about teaching) more.  Finally, I have some more general “grad student life” posts that are Uncategorized.  They cover more of the practical nuts and bolts of doing exams, assembling a dissertation proposal, etc, and might be useful to folks going through those processes themselves.  Enjoy!

Abe – Inter Ice Age 4


Abe Kobo.  Inter Ice Age 4.  Trans. E. Dale Saunder.  New York: Knopf.  1970 [1959].

I know, I hear you.  “You promised regular blog posts about SF!  What gives?”  I honestly just haven’t known where to start with this book.  Maybe I shouldn’t feel bad.  Included in this edition is an afterword by Abe in which he says that he himself didn’t really know what to think of this book.  He says that, by the time it finished serialization in Sekai (in 1959, having started in ’58), he’d posed a lot of questions to which he simply didn’t have any answers.  Knowing Abe, that could just be another layer of performance that he’s folding into the book, but I’m going to take him at his word for now, if only to make myself feel better.  I still don’t know where to start, but I’ve already started writing, so let’s see where it takes us.   Continue reading “Abe – Inter Ice Age 4”

Tsutsui – What the Maid Saw

51fyq8pbe2l-_sx340_bo1204203200_Tsutsui Yasutaka.  What the Maid Saw.  Trans. Adam Kabat.  New York: Kodansha International.  1990 [1972].

As I said a few posts ago, I think a lot of this blog’s content this summer is going to be reviews of Japanese SF books.  My proposal committee wants to see more concrete readings of books, and I’m planning on getting more bang for my buck out of that work by using those readings in a conference proposal at the end of the summer.  What all that means is that I need to read a bunch of SF novels so that I can get that work done!  I’ve gone through a couple already, so let’s get started jotting down thoughts on them!  The first is a book I’ve had checked out for… longer than I’d like to admit, given its slim profile (clocking in at 189 pages).  Tsutsui Yasutaka is a name I’ve known for a long time, given the amount of crossover his work has with the film and anime industries (he wrote the novels upon which The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Paprika were based, among others), but whom I’d never actually read.  Much like Philip K. Dick or Isaac Asimov, his name has always hovered on the outskirts of my awareness of SF, but this was the first time I’d sat down to read one of his books.  How does it stack up?  Read on to find out. Continue reading “Tsutsui – What the Maid Saw”

A less-than-modest proposal (2/2)

Welcome back to the second-half of my post on dissertation proposals.  Last time, I talked about my experience of writing the proposal, the importance of frequent and varied feedback, and what my proposal ended up looking like.  Today, I’ll be writing a bit about the moment when the rubber meets the road: the defense.  What was it like?  What was expected of me?  And did I fulfill those expectations?   Continue reading “A less-than-modest proposal (2/2)”

A less-than-modest proposal (1/2)

Back from a week’s vacation in Atlanta, and I must admit that I think I lied to you in my last post.  With my exams behind me, I think I may not actually do that many more reviews of books that were on my lists, mostly because I think I’ve covered most of the interesting ones already.  Hate me if you must.

Instead, I’m going to spend a little bit of time talking about my dissertation proposal in this post, before moving on to reviews of SF books that I’m reading this summer.  I don’t know how transferable my experience of the proposal writing and defense processes will be to others – since dissertations are all pretty idiosyncratic beasts – but hopefully this will at least give anyone in the pre-diss stages another data point by which to orient their own paths.   Continue reading “A less-than-modest proposal (1/2)”

Johnston – The Allure of Machinic Life

9780262101264Johnston, John Harvey. The Allure of Machinic Life: Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New AI. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.  Publisher’s webpage.


Last post for today, again drawing from a prior write-up to work through my backlog!  This is continuing the Simondon theme we’ve already established with my compilation post on the man himself and with the post I published earlier today on Muriel Combes’s interpretation of him.  John Johnston isn’t taking up Simondon per se, but rather making a study of “computational assemblages” he sees as structuring contemporary techno-scientific discourse and practice.  It’s an interesting material-discursive history, so let’s dive in, already! Continue reading “Johnston – The Allure of Machinic Life”

Megamix – Applied Posthumanism

Saito, Tamaki. Beautiful Fighting Girl. Translated by Keith Vincent and Dawn Lawson, with an afterword by Azuma Hiroki. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. Publisher’s webpage.

Silverberg, Miriam. Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.  Publisher’s webpage.


(Note: This post was originally part of a write-up I did for one of my committee members that included Brown’s Tokyo Cyberpunk, covered on this blog last week.  I’ve trimmed most of my discussion of Brown here due to redundancy, but his name still pops up here and there.)

Here’s another quick post for today (and it has to be quick: we’re at T-minus 8 days until the exams!) to work through some of my mounting backlog.  I think of Saito Tamaki’s and Miriam Silverberg’s respective books as two potential approaches to posthumanism “in action” in a cultural studies project.  I had included them on my list in the hopes that they might model a unification of theory and text, a problem with which I frequently struggle in my own work.  Let’s see how they did! Continue reading “Megamix – Applied Posthumanism”