All book review posts will be 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, or use the search bar (which frustratingly is only showing up when you click through to a post: will hopefully fix soon) if there’s a specific text you want to find.  One of these days, I might even get around to uploading my full lists here, too.

Simondon week!

imageSimondon, Gilbert. On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects. Translated by Ninian Mellamphy. University of Western Ontario, 1980. (Though the image is from the new translation that just came out through UMN press recently, the site for which is here.)

———. “The Genesis of the Individual.” Translated by Mark Cohen and Sanford Kwinter. Zone 6 (1992): 296–319.

It’s the week of Gilbert Simondon!  Otherwise known as the week in which I stare really hard at one sentence at a time, piecing their meanings together into what I’m pretty sure counts as a firm handle on the content.  I first encountered the mid-century French philosopher in an anthropology class I took now 4 years ago (that’s 2013, for you visitors from the future-times), and it stuck in my head.  This was the first coursework I’d done specifically on notions of machinic or posthuman subjectivity, or really the relationship between subjectivity and the material world in general, and Simondon’s transductive individual was one of the first philosophies I’d encountered that struck me as doing something new and exciting.  Now granted, what the hell do I know?  My sole background in Western philosophy had been this class (and it WAS definitely more of a philosophy class than anthropology), so maybe this is old news to a lot of people.  But it seems like Simondon is getting a fresh look recently, including by such familiar faces around these parts as Tom Lamarre, who translated Muriel Combes’s book on Simondon a few years back (that one will be getting a blog post down the line a bit).  Reading Simondon’s work with a new set of eyes a few years later, things seemed kinda different than I remembered.  How?  Make the jump to find out! Continue reading “Simondon week!”

Megamix – Bukatman (revisited) and Hayles on Virtual Subjects

Bukatman, Scott. Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993.  Publisher’s site.

Hayles, Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.  Publisher’s site.


Megamix two out of two for this week!  Loyal readers may remember that I reviewed Bukatman’s Terminal Identity a while back on this blog.  With the benefit of another selective reading of that book that I did for my class, I had some more things in mind to say about it, and it seemed fitting to put those thoughts in dialogue with N. Katherine Hayles’s book tackling essentially the same issues.  I think reading them in concert really helped me in thinking through each, so hopefully that comes through in what I have to say below.  Onward!  To the land of flickering signifiers and terminal cyborgs! Continue reading “Megamix – Bukatman (revisited) and Hayles on Virtual Subjects”

Megamix: Sharalyn Orbaugh and Cyborgs

Orbaugh, Sharalyn. “Sex and the Single Cyborg: Japanese Popular Culture Experiments in Subjectivity.” In Bolton, Christopher, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, and Takayuki Tatsumi, eds. Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime.

Orbaugh, Sharalyn. “Emotional Infectivity: Cyborg Affect and the Limits of the Human.” Mechademia 3 (2008): 150–72.


I have a few write-ups in the backlog right now that I’m going to post over the next couple of days.  While normally I write my blog posts as “first drafts” of these reports (which I give to my advisor in advance of meetings we have to discuss them), this week I was on too much of a time crunch to do so.  As a result, you’ll be getting a couple posts that are slightly longer than usual since I’m dealing with two items in each.  For this first one, I have two different short pieces (a book chapter and a journal article) by Sharalyn Orbaugh, one of my favorite Japan studies scholars working on sci-fi and affect.  Next time, I’ll be revisiting Bukatman’s book (drawing a bit on this post) and connecting it with N. Katherine Hayles’s take on the same subject.  Look for that this weekend!  For now, though, let’s talk about cyborg feelings! Continue reading “Megamix: Sharalyn Orbaugh and Cyborgs”

Grosz – Volatile Bodies


Grosz, Elizabeth.  Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism.  Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.  1994.  Publisher’s webpage.

At long last, we’re back on book reviews for books that are actually included in my lists!  I forget exactly how I came across Elizabeth Grosz’s book, but the “corporeal” part of the title made my ears perk up when I did.  Part of the point of my list on posthuman affect, after all, is to ask how we can deal with “embodiment” and “the body” in our analyses of subjectivity without falling into the trap of using an abstract, purportedly universal body to stand in for all the messy specificity of individual bodily experience.  Her work follows up on that of people like Irigaray and Kristeva, feminists who had started to put more emphasis on bodies in the 1980s.  My hope was that Grosz would be able to give me some tools to use in finding the line between theoretical generality and textured specificity.  Read on to see if I got what I bargained for! Continue reading “Grosz – Volatile Bodies”

Sconce – Haunted Media


Sconce, Jeffrey.  Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press.  2000.  Publisher’s page.

I did a silly thing.  I read this book in a hurry because I needed to return it to the library, but it turns out it wasn’t even a book I had on any of my lists.  And this was after I’d mentioned to my advisor that I was reading the book for my exam with him.  The importance of organizing your books well, kids!  But I wanted to get back into the swing of writing up books on here, and it was a really interesting read, so I bent the rules a bit for today.  Filing this under both media studies and posthumanism because, as the title suggests, it straddles that divide pretty neatly.  Now that I’ve gone and read it, I almost want to try to find a way to squeeze it into a list.  For now, though, you can just read my thoughts on it below! Continue reading “Sconce – Haunted Media”

Teaching Japanese SF, part 2

Took my student evals a minute to come in, but we’re back!  Last time, I posted my syllabus and some of the thinking behind it.  This time, I’m going to talk a little bit about what worked from that design, what didn’t, and what I want to improve for next time.  And I swear, that book review I promised is coming soon!  But for now, let’s talk about talking about SF. Continue reading “Teaching Japanese SF, part 2”

Teaching Japanese SF, part 1

Holy datajack, it’s been a while!  Very sorry for the radio silence, there, but I was teaching my first solo course!  It was really exciting, slightly terrifying, and I learned a lot from doing it, so I thought I’d try to transmute my experiences into words (the demon alchemy of my craft) and share some stuff here.  We’re even inaugurating a new category tag for it!

I think this will probably be a two-part post.  In this first, I’ll share my syllabus and the thinking behind its design.  In the second part, I’ll lay out some of the class’s successes and failures and try to think through what I can do differently next time.  Onward!  To the stars! Continue reading “Teaching Japanese SF, part 1”