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Contents Introduction Research Group Conference&Sympoisum Publications
Conferences & Symposia

Abstracts and Introductions

Session I:The Enemy Within

First presentation:

Franz Hintereder-Emde graduated from the Department of Humanities at the University of Erlangen, taking his MA in 1987 and his PhD (in German Literature, Philosophy, Japanese Studies) in 1999. Having joined the faculty in 1988 as Assistant Professor, he has since 2006 been Professor in the Faculty of Humanities of Yamaguchi University, and from 2009 to 2010 served as Director of the University’s International Student Center. He has published a comparative study on Robert Walser and Natsume Soseki, written papers on cultural stereotypes, translation and intercultural learning, and collaborated on a Japanese edition of the works of Robert Walser. He was co-organizer of conferences on the theme of "High and Low Literature" held in Nancy (2013) and Yamaguchi (2015), and co-editor of the resulting conference volumes.

"He and I were the same person": Struggle for Identity in Natsume Soseki’s The Miner

A young man, entangled in two love affairs and intensely criticized for this by his family, runs away from home after failing to commit suicide. Incapable of fighting against the rules of society, he accepts his failure and takes an offer to work as a miner, hoping to redeem himself. But there is something that opposes his every action and decision, and he is surprised to discover that this opposition originates in none other than he himself. His attempt to run away from society develops into an encounter with his own inscrutable self.

Natsume Soseki’s lesser known novel The Miner can be read as an early document describing the quest for identity in modern Japanese literature, but much more it questions the modern concept of identity, and calls attention to certain facets of its complexity. In my presentation I will discuss contradictory aspects of the self-awareness produced by means of physical and sensory perception.

Second presentation:

Stefan Buchenberger is Associate Professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies at Kanagawa University. He earned his Ph.D. in Japanese Studies from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. He is involved in the study of graphic narratives at the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) and writes regularly on graphic fiction and on his second major field of study, mystery and detective fiction. His publications include:

  • “Graphic Mystery Novels,” in Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Salem Press, 2008; pp.2191-2201).
  • “Jan Costin Wagner und die Tradition des deutschen und skandinavischen Soziokrimis,“ in Mord auf Deutsch. Aspekte des aktuellen deutschen Kriminalromans (Co. ed.). Japanese Germanics Society (Vol. 63), 2009; pp. 51-64.
  • "Superman and the Corruption of Power,” in Joseph Darowski, ed., The Ages of Superman: Essayson the Man of Steel in Changing Times.McFarland, 2012; pp.192-198).
  • “Comic Book Villains and the Loss of Humanity.”International Journal of Comic Art, vol. 2, no.2 (2012), pp. 539-552.

The Enemy Within: The Strange Story of Dr. Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk

In 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson published The Strange Story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This novella dramatized the psychological phenomenon of the split personality in an extreme way, with the evil, “other” persona of Dr. Henry Jekyll physically manifesting as the villainous Mr. Edward Hyde. The enemy lurking within had found his way out, becoming his own separate individual, and constantly struggling for control of the physical space – the body – that could be occupied in any given moment by only one persona.

While Mr. Hyde was set free by means of an unidentified chemical agent, in 1963 it was nuclear energy which, reflecting the particular anxieties of the times, gave birth to one of the most famous successors to the Victorian villain, the Incredible Hulk. An immensely powerful, sometimes intelligent but mostly dumb giant, the Hulk, like his predecessor Dr. Hyde, has become a pop culture icon. Like all the other superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe, the Hulk ceaselessly fights against all kinds of enemies. In his case he routinely beats these to a pulp while shouting his customary battle cry of, “Hulk smash!” The most formidable of the Hulk’s enemies, among them The Leader and The Abomination, are in fact variations of the Hulk himself, in that they were also created by gamma radiation. The one adversary the Hulk has never been able to best, however, is Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, his own human alter ego, who – like Dr. Jekyll before him – works to find a way to rid himself of this monstrous manifestation of his dark side. Both Banner and Jekyll seem to be locked in an endless battle with their own worst enemies: the enemy within.

 

Third presentation:

Hiroshi Hatakeyama is full-time Lecturer in the Department of International Studies at the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo. He studied at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and the University of Tokyo, receiving his PhD in German Literature from the latter. His primary research interest is the poetic language of Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843). His publications include 55 Keywords of German Culture (co-editor, Mineruva Shobo, 2015); “Representations of Christ and the Fragmentation of Poetry in the Rewriting of Hölderlin’s Hymn Patmos” (Doitsu Bungaku [Neue Beiträge zur Germanistik] Vol.146, 2013); “‘Titanic” and the Genesis of Meanings in Hölderlin: A Reading of the Fragment “Die Titanen’” (Seishin Studies, Vol.116, 2011); “Bread and Wine – Conjunctions and the Rhythm of the History in Hölderlin” (Doitsu Bungaku [Neue Beiträge zur Germanistik] Vol.133, 2007).

"Nihilism" as the Enemy in the Writings of Erich Kastner and Michael Ende

Friedrich Nietzsche’s nihilism had a decisive influence on philosophers and writers of the twentieth century. His philosophy is based on criticism of Christianity, which, according to him, not only conceals the essential meaninglessness of life but also gives false meaning to suffering, by positing the notion of God where in fact nothing exists. This criticism, however, begs a fundamental question: how is one to live in a nihilist world, in which there is no “meaning of life,” and where no objective values exist?

This presentation aims to analyse how “nihilism” itself could become an enemy in one’s life, by comparing different attitudes towards the philosophy as evident in the works of two German writiers of juvenile literature writers, Erich Kästner (1899-1974) and Michael Ende (1929-1995). Kästner’s attitude towards nihilism can be identified in his novel Fabian, the Story of a Moralist, where the philosophy is described as a foe which can only be defeated by death. In contrast, Ende describes nihilism – in his Momo and The Neverending Story – as an enemy that could be worn down and conquered.

About the session chair:

James Tink is Associate Professor of English Literature in the Department of English Literature, Tohoku University. He received a PhD in English Literature from The University of Sussex, and has taught at universities in London and Tokyo. His main research interests are early modern English literature and modern literary theory. Recent publications include:

  • "Staging Timon of Athens in the Downturn," Shakespeare Review 50.5 (2014);
  • "Teaching the History Plays in Japan," Teaching Shakespeare 6 (2014);
  • "Translating Transcendence: R.H. Blyth, Zen, and English Poetry," Annual Reports of Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University LXIV (2014)
  • “Active and Contemplative Labour in The Tempest” in Prismatic Shakespeare From the Renaissance to the Twenty-First Century, ed. Kumiko Hoshi et.al. (Tokyo: Seibido,2013);
  • “The Futurity of Andrew Marvell: The Figure of the Future in Marvell’s Lyric Poetry,” Shiron 46 (October 2011), 1-24.

Session II: The Antagonistic Dynamic in Media

First presentation:

Hiroko Katsuyama is Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, specializing in German literature. She earned her PhD from Kyoto University in 2010 with a thesis titled “Inter-Mediality in Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Works.” Her main research interests are inter-mediality, physicality, and urban theory. She is the author of “Disembodiment of Our Physical Bodies and Embodiment of Urban Space in Oshii Mamoru's Animations” (International Journal of Comic Art, 2012); “Der Mensch als ‘Körper’ und ‘Leib’ in Mamoru Oshiis Animations filmen” (Ästhetik der Dinge / Diskurse der Gewalt, 2012); and co-author of Keimō to handō (Shumpusha, 2013).

Enemy or Friend?: The Possibility of Coexistence between Robots and Human Beings

In 2011 US President Obama announced plans to accelerate the development and use of robots that work cooperatively with people, while in 2014 Japanese Prime Minister Abe posited a “Robot Revolution,” and described its encouragement as a government growth strategy. It is likely that robots will soon enter more widely into human life, but the degree to which humans will feel comfortable with this remains uncertain, and research into the qualities robots must possess in order to be acceptable to humans is ongoing.

Robots have been frequently depicted in various media, and these fictions should not be neglected when considering the nature of robots. An overview of pop culture descriptions of robots in US and Japanese media reveals that while robots in American fiction are frequently portrayed as enemies of humanity, Japanese robots are mostly friendly, a difference produced perhaps by different religious ideologies.

In such examples as Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s 2010 “Time of EVE” and Kenji Kamiyama’s 2002 “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex,” robots themselves work to maintain good relations with humans. However, the perception that robots merely wrap a friendly exterior around an essentially impersonal core makes them highly ambiguous figures. Still, recent media in which robots are positive additions to human families such as Disney’s Big Hero 6 and NHK’s TV program Washimo make it timely to look at how the image of robots is developing, and to consider again the possibility of human-robot coexistence.

Second presentation:

Robert F. Wittkamp studied pre-modern Japanese and Chinese literature, as well as cultural anthropology, at the University of Cologne. A resident of Japan since 1994, he has been living in the Kansai area since 2003, teaching cultural, media, and literary studies at Kansai University in Ōsaka. His current fields of research are narratology (in pre-modern Japanese literature, TV series and serials) and trans- and intermedial story telling.

Deconstructions of Good and Evil in Quality TV: Dexter, The Shield, and Breaking Bad under Observation

Blurring the borderlines between good and evil is not unusual for modern literature. Typical examples might be the novels Crime and Punishment (1866) by Fëdor Mihajlovič Dostoevskij, War and Peace (1869) by Lev Nikolaevič Tolstoj, or the Japanese sociocritical (shakaiha) post-war crime novels by Matsumoto Seichō and others. Therefore it doesn’t surprise very much that these borderlines are scrutinized in television programmes as well. This is true at least for traditional private detective series, thriller series, crime drama series, and police shows. The term “traditional” refers to analog broadcasting television, but since the late 1980s one can observe a profound change within the media landscape. These developments are described as digital revolution, media convergence, digitization etc.

However, these expressions do not only mean new technologies or the merging of the three big media (television, computer, and cellular phone). If we accept Herbert Marshall McLuhans famous dictum “the medium is the message” then the consequent examinations must be of the contents of the new messages. In Western research on television series, formats and programs which undoubtedly changed, or were born, with the digital revolution have been described as “television after TV” (Lynn Spigel / Jan Olsson), or “TV3” (John Ellis), but the most popular expression – though not one accepted by all scholars−seems to be “Quality Television,” a term coined by Jane Feuer as early as 1984. In my talk I am going to give a brief overview of the digitally-influenced collection of studies Narrative Strategies in Television Series (edited by Gaby Allrath and Marion Gymnich) to provide a foundation for further examinations. Due to the fact that the theme of good versus evil can be expected within the genres mentioned above, I will introduce three programmes which are both  characteristic of these genres and also representatives of “Quality TV” as well. The aim is to show that the borderlines between good and evil are not just blurred but, moreover, the audience is forced to sympathize with, if not to love, the evil. This indeed is a “new message,” or, to put it in other words, a message that has acheived a new quality.

Third presentation:

Mohammad A. Quayum has taught at universities in Australia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and the US, and is currently professor of English at International Islamic University, Malaysia. He has published 27 books, as well as numerous articles in major scholarly journals. Quayum’s books on Tagore and Bellow include Beyond Boundaries: Critical Essays on Rabindranath Tagore (Bangladesh Literary Academy, 2014), Rabindranath Tagore: The Ruined Nest and Other Stories (trans.; Silverfish Books, Kuala Lumpur, 2014), Rabindranath Tagore: Selected Short Stories (trans.; Macmillan, 2011), The Poet and His World: Critical Essays on Rabindranath Tagore (Orient Longman, 2011), Saul Bellow and American Transcendentalism (Peter Lang, New York, 2004) and Saul Bellow: The Man and His Work (B.R. Publishing, India, 2001). He serves on the editorial board of The Literary Encyclopaedia (UK), and on the advisory boards of several leading field journals.

Imagining the “Enemy”: Adversarial Roles in the Fiction of Tagore and Bellow, Two Nobel Laureates

R.K. Narayan, a pioneer of South Asian fiction in English, once argued that the underlying objective of every Indian story is to create a “distinction between good and evil” and show that “goodness triumphs in the end… if not immediately, at least in a thousand years; if not in this world, at least in other worlds.” This literary trend of pitting “good” against “evil,” or creating an adversary for the protagonist who (s)he eventually defeats in a palpable or impalpable form, is not merely an aspect of South Asian imagination, but a core ingredient of the human consciousness, as is evident in the pervasive duality of God/Satan, truth/falsehood, papa/punya, in all the major global religions.

In this paper, I wish to examine the various representations of the adversary or “enemy” in selected fiction of two Nobel Laureates from two different historical periods and cultural backgrounds, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and Saul Bellow (1915-2005). My contention is that, despite his reputation as a religious and spiritual writer, Tagore often portrays the unscrupulous agents of decadent socio-cultural and religious practices as the “enemy” in his fiction, while Bellow, often categorised as a postmodern and existentialist writer, habitually sees the enemy in current hyper-materialism and its manifold temptations that stand in the way of the soul’s quest for self-fulfilment and freedom.

About the session chair:

Bernard Wilson teaches at the University of the Sacred Heart, Rikkyo University and Kanagawa University. He has spent the past two decades teaching at universities in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan and specializes in postcolonial literature, children's literature, and cinema. He is widely published in Southeast Asian Anglophone literature, Indian and Chinese diaspora and East/West theory, and his work has appeared in leading international journals in the United States, Asia, Australia and the U.K. He is currently writing a book on Western cinematic interpretations of Asia. Publications include:

  • The Languages and Cultures of the English-Speaking Countries (co-authored).
  • Tokyo: Open University of Japan, 2011.
  • Lee Kok Liang’s London Does Not Belong To Me (co-edited with S.C. Harrex).
  • Kuala Lumpur: Maya Press, 2003.
  • “Meta-Mobilis: The Case for Polymorphous Existence in K.S. Maniam’s Between Lives.”
  • In Tracing an Indian Diaspora: Contexts, Memories, Representations.
  • London: Sage Publications, 2008 (pp. 408-427).
  • “Memory, Myth, Exile: The Desire for Malaysian Belonging in K.S. Maniam’s The Return, ‘Haunting the Tiger’ and In A Far Country.” In Textual Practice, No. 2. London: Routledge, 2003 (pp. 391-412).

Session III: Negotiating Antagonism in Social Contexts

First presentation:

Colin S. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. A social and cultural anthropologist of contemporary Japan, his current research focuses on the changing landscape of opportunity and risk for young precarious workers in Japan’s creative and service industries. He will be a Visiting Scholar at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Is There a Japanese Bohemia?: Counterculture, Mainstream, and Modernity

One of the central antagonistic dynamics in narratives of middle class modernity is that of Bohemian and Bourgeois. Originating in nineteenth century Paris, and travelling in various guises into the twenty-first century, it has come to shape our understanding of mainstream middle class society and its dilemmas in a variety of national-cultural contexts. Yet, while it would seem to be a universal and defining characteristic of modernity, it is also an opposition that is distinctively western. As such, it raises the question not only of whether non-western countercultures are ‘bohemian,’ but also, and more importantly, what we mean by modernity. This presentation examines how the relationship between counterculture and mainstream in Japan is, and is not, a part of this larger narrative of bohemian and bourgeois antagonism. It focuses on the resurgence of a countercultural scene and movement in Tokyo over the past decade and considers the implications this has for the conceptual conundrum that modernity presents to us: a single, global condition that is also a collection of alternatives of a supposed archetype.

Second presentation:

Kimie Ōshima is Professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies at Kanagawa University. She received her MA in International Communication from Aoyama Gakuin University, and her PhD in Sociolinguistics from International Christian University. Her studies focus upon intercultural communication and humor. She has also been a performer of English rakugo since1997. Her publications include: English Rakugo in the Classroom (Sanseido, 2013); “An Examination of Styles of Japanese Humor: Japan’s Funniest Story Project 2010-2011” (in Intercultural Communication Studies XXII (2), 2013); “Japanese Cultural Expressions Seen in English Rakugo Scripts” (Asian Englishes 14-1, 2011); and “Rakugo and Humor in Japanese Interpersonal Communication” (in Understanding Humor in Japan, Wayne State University Press, 2006).

Aggressive Humor Directed Against Social Enemies

Among many types of humor, aggressive humor – which may occur in as sarcasm, disparagement, or teasing – is used to effectively ridicule or mock a target. In general, aggressive humor intends a negative effect against the target person or group, but in certain cases, this type of humor can have positive effects. In their 2004 study Social Consequences of Disparagement Humor: A Prejudiced Norm Theory, Ford and Ferguson argue that when individuals holding negative attitudes toward a group are exposed to humor that belittles that group, they enter a noncritical mindset in which they perceive that the expression of negative attitudes is acceptable for that situation. Therefore they become more likely to tolerate and express prejudice and discrimination toward the targeted group.

However, at the same time, someone who feels constrained by the pressures of social expectations (e.g., political correctness) may welcome opportunities to make jokes about a group towards which they hold negative attitudes, because they provide a means of expressing true sentiment; that is to say, such jokes function as a release from social pressure. In his Punchlines: The Case for Racial, Ethnic and Gender Humor (2005), Leon Rappoport describes these functions of aggressive humor as a “sword,” because of their potential to harm, and also as a “shield” with which one can cope with, or even defend one’s group against, negative stereotypes. Such humor can therefore be used to resist norms or restrictions that are unfair to certain groups. Political humor or Jewish jokes are good examples of aggressive humor deployed against such restrictions. This presentation will introduce some aggressive jokes that poke fun at social enemies, and the way aggressive humor serves to prevent direct conflict.

Third presentation:

Michael Wetzel is Professor of literature and film studies in the German Department of the University of Bonn. He graduated in philosophy and german studies with a work on “Autonomy and Authenticity” in the works of Kant, Fichte and the Early Romanticism. After teaching at several universities in Germany, Austria, and France (the last at the “Collège International de Philosophie” in Paris where he came into close contact with Jacques Derrida, translating many of his books), he published the following studies: The End of the Book: From Literal to Technical Media (1991), Truth After Painting: New Pictorial Media (1997), Mignon: The Childwife in the Goethezeit (his habilitation; 1999) and Introduction to Jacques Derrida (2011). In-progress research focuses on the history of authorship and artists (forthcoming book, The Author-Artist), Marcel Duchamp and Inframediality, and the cultural history of the medium glass.

Specters of the Other: Carl Schmitt and Jacques Derrida on Enmity

The political theorist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) is well known for his radical position concerning the friend-enemy distinction, famous as well for his allegiance to Nazi ideology. The radicality of his definition of the political is founded upon a distiction between friend and enemy, in the sense of a clear demarcation between the inner circle of familiarity and the outer world of the “other, the stranger ... existentially something different and alien.” But Schmitt goes even further by further locating this opposition not in differences between “us” and “them,” but in the possibility of a conflict between the opposite parts. It is a kind of virtual war that determines the “gnostic” order of right and wrong, and it is the sovereign alone who can determine the object of hostility, through an act of decision.

It is this ‘decisionism’ Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) opposed in his deconstructive reading of the distinction between friend and enemy. For Derrida, it is this “politics of enmity” itself that produces the specter of the other as intruder and danger, whereas a “politics of friendship” would require acceptance of  the risks born from responsibility: the obligation to respond to the other instead of defeating him.

In his texts “Apocalypse not now,” “Specters of Marx” and “Hospitality,” and in his critique of the politics of rogue states, Derrida claims that it is only by means of “unconditional hospitality” that the vicious cycleof projection of aggression onto an external enemy followed by introjection onto an internal enemy can be interupted. A short consideration of how “good” and the “evil” are described in the psychoanalytical work of Melanie Klein will make this context more explicit, before a last example from Richard Wagners “Walküre” – the intrusion of Sigmund into Hunding’s oikos (household) – will be used to demonstrate the transgressive consequenses of the schizoid separation of friend and enemy.

About the session chair:

David Ewick is Professor in the Department of Literature and Culture in English at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, where he teaches courses Literary History, Literary Criticism, and Cultural Studies. He completed his doctoral studies at University College London. His work has focused primarily on the relation of Japan and China with European and American modernism. His most recent work is on the literary and cultural history of Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound’s *The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry*.