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!


Furuhata – Cinema of Actuality


Furuhata, Yuriko. Cinema of Actuality: Japanese Avant-Garde Filmmaking in the Season of Image Politics.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press.  2013.  Publisher’s website.

My god, 2 reviews in one month???  Anything is possible when you’re living under quarantine!  (In all seriousness, I hope everyone out there is staying well in the midst of All This).  After my last review of Zahlten’s look at industrial genres, I decided to swim upstream in Duke’s East Asian series, going back four years to Yuriko Furuhata’s entry in the same.  This is a book that, thanks to its historical and disciplinary frames, has been on my “to-read” list for…. an embarrassingly long time, so I’m glad to have finally gotten to sit down with it!  Furuhata takes up avant-garde leftist cinema in Japan’s 1960s and ’70s, which while interesting in its own right, might not have been something that I would have thought would be relevant to my own work on SF.  Nevertheless, with everything that’s happening in the world right now, I’m trying to cut myself some slack and just read whatever I want at whatever length I want.  I read this one cover to cover, and I’m glad I gave myself the space to do so, or I don’t think it would have landed for me at all.  Read on to find out why!  Continue reading “Furuhata – Cinema of Actuality”

Zahlten – The End of Japanese Cinema

978-0-8223-6944-8_prZahlten, Alexander. The End of Japanese Cinema: Industrial Genres, National Times, and Media Ecologies.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2017. Publisher’s website.


I hadn’t been planning on doing a write-up of this book (I should be dissertating, after all!), but it’s such an interesting piece of work that I wanted to get some thoughts down one way or the other.  My own methodology in my dissertation tracks very closely with “the sociology of culture” or “magazine studies” or whatever it is you want to call it when you treat the magazines in which texts were published as themselves being media objects, with equal analytical weight given to them.  I sometimes wondered about the portability of that framework to a more mixed media phenomenon like science fiction, whether it could be taken outside the context of magazine publishing, and what such a study might look like.  Turns out Alexander Zahlten had me covered.  His book, now three years old (!) looks at the industry of Japanese cinema without simply being an industrial history, as well as at film texts without being tied to close readings.  It’s – in my experience – an incredibly fine line to walk successfully, but Zahlten does so really satisfyingly and ends up with strong conclusions about media, industry, history, and the nation-state.  Read on to learn how!  Continue reading “Zahlten – The End of Japanese Cinema”

Secondary Catchup: Carrington and Kapur


Carrington, Andre. Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.  2016. Publisher’s website.
Kapur, Nick.  Japan at the Crossroads: Conflict and Compromise After ANPO.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.  2018. Publisher’s website.

Having spent a year doing primary work in Japan, now that I’m back, I can get caught up on some of the English-language secondary sources that have been on my radar for a while.  Some of that reading is in SF studies research that wasn’t included on my qualifying exams, and some is in keeping up-to-date on cultural and historical work on 1960s Japan in particular.  So today, I thought I’d do a quick double-post on two that I was particularly looking forward to reading, one from each category.  They were each really interesting in their own right, and I think both will really help me as I think through my dissertation’s argument.  Continue reading “Secondary Catchup: Carrington and Kapur”

On Conferencing

I had an opportunity to present at a conference recently that was organized by my department.  The theme of the conference wasn’t especially close to my dissertation topic (we were talking about literary history in East Asia), but it was my first chance to present material from the dissertation chapter I’d been writing all year in Japan, and I had a fun time.

In talking with a few of my colleagues, however, I learned that I had presented at conferences many more times than most of the other grad students in my department.  They seemed to feel like it was a bad idea to do conferences too early in one’s graduate career, and while I can see where they were coming from, I disagree, and I’d like to spend a bit of time in this post talking about why.  Indeed, I think some of the best advice I got as a soon-to-be grad student was to try to present at a conference every year.  Read on to see why I think this has helped me more than most other habits I’ve maintained in grad school.  Continue reading “On Conferencing”

Teaching with the weirdness: Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964)



Honda, Ishiro dir.  Mosura tai Gojira (Mothra vs. Godzilla).  Toho Studios.  1964.  89 min.

A few months ago, a friend approached me about giving a guest lecture for his class on global SF.  He asked me to do a film screening and discussion as the class moved into finals crunch time.  I thought it would be fun, and set about looking for a suitable film to teach.  All of my usual suspects, however, were coming up just a bit too lengthy for the 90 minute class block.  Time for a challenge!  The film I eventually settled on was 1964’s Mothra vs. Godzilla, a semi-remake of 1961’s Mothra.  The class was about a month ago now, and I’ve had some time to ruminate on how things went, so I thought I’d write up a short post about the experience.  I want to talk a little bit about trying to use silly or strange materials in class, and getting students to engage seriously and critically with those texts.  Charge up that radiation breath, and let’s rampage through some model cities.   Continue reading “Teaching with the weirdness: Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964)”

Yasuoka Yukiko and SF Parenthood (2/2)

So last time, I started talking about Yasuoka Yukiko, an author who appears repeatedly over the course of a year in Uchuujin and then vanishes as suddenly as she arrived.  I ended up writing waaaaaaay more about Yasuoka’s “Io” than I intended, so here we are at part 2 of my look at her stories, this time taking up “Mama.”  Yasuoka’s great love for Greek myth intertwined with knotty questions of parenthood continues unabated here, so let’s have a look at the childhood tragedy that is “Mama.”   Continue reading “Yasuoka Yukiko and SF Parenthood (2/2)”

Yasuoka Yukiko and SF Parenthood (1/2)

I want to talk a bit about an author whose name I’ve come across a few times in the pages of Uchuujin.  Her name is Yasuoka Yukiko, and I can find precisely no biographical details about her, so we’ll just have to stick to her works.  I’ve read two of those in the last week, and they’ve stuck with me, so I figure what better excuse to write an update to this wilting blog?  Two stories is a small sample size, but they share a number of common concerns: parenthood, Greek myth, interesting POV choices, and more.  What can her stories tell us about SF in the mid-60s?  Read on to find out!  Continue reading “Yasuoka Yukiko and SF Parenthood (1/2)”

Tobi – Jisei no yume


Tobi, Hirotaka. Jisei no yume [Autogenic Dreaming]. Tokyo: Kawade Shobo Shinsha. 2016.
Link to Publisher’s website

This is a post I’ve been working on for a while, but held off on publishing because I was presenting some of this material at a recent conference (which was lots of fun!). As far as I can remember, I haven’t written about Tobi Hirotaka here before, despite absolutely loving the stories of his that I’ve read.  This began when I first read the eponymous short story of this collection, “Jisei no Yume” in Haikasoru’s collection The Future is Japanese (where it appears in English, translated by Jim Hubbert, as “Autogenic Dreaming: Interview with the Column of Clouds”).  That story, as well as the companion pieces Tobi wrote for it after it won the Nebula (Seiun) award in 2009, are collected with a few others in this collection, which I picked up at a talk event with Tobi back in July.  There’s a lot to talk about here, and I’m not really sure where to start, but let’s leap before we look and dive in!
Continue reading “Tobi – Jisei no yume”

Thought dump: Two stories by Bien Fuu

Bien, Fuu.  “The Rainy Season” (雨期).  Uchuujin 156-157 (July-August, 1971).

—–.  “The Jewels of the Virgin Mary” (聖母マリアの宝石たち).  Uchuujin 173 (December, 1973).


I’ve been struggling with what to say in this post for much of this week, but by god, we’re trying to set Good Habits, so I’m going to start writing anyway.  In my last post, I touched upon an author writing under the pen name Bien Fuu (or, to use the more standard Romanization of the inspiration, Bien Phu).  I was struck that this author, a former aristocrat writing for an SF fanzine, would choose as one of her pen names a reference to the last battle of the First Indochina War, which saw the French suffer a crushing defeat against the Viet Minh.  What sorts of notions of regional identity might be at work here, I wondered, and what sort of consciousness about postcolonial issues of race and ethnicity?  With those thoughts in the back of my mind, I dug into two short stories published by Bien.  Read on to find out together what I thought of them!

Continue reading “Thought dump: Two stories by Bien Fuu”

Research musings

Hi, internet!  It’s been a while.  I’ve been in Japan since March, doing archival work for the dissertation, which is sort of the work that has to come before I have anything interesting to say around these parts.  I’d apologize for the resulting silence, but hopefully it’s just indicative of me doing my work, so…. *shrug*.  In any case, in chatting about what I’ve found so far, I realized I actually had more thoughts on it than I realized, so I decided to throw those thoughts out somewhere beyond my own research notes.  Maybe there will be useful info in here for other folks approaching research, but I’m not sure.  Let’s find out together! Continue reading “Research musings”