Anime: Aesthetics, Animation, and Affect
Japanese animation, known colloquially as anime, has become one of the most common forms of post-war visual media, especially in the last 20 years. With the rise of streaming services and the increasing ease of transnational production and distribution, anime has moved from a niche set of aesthetic objects—at least as seen by Western audiences—into an art form whose “cartoon” nomenclature hardly captures the historical, aesthetic, and subversive implications of its form. With its global cultural ascendancy, how might we think about anime in relation to the evolving conditions of its production and reception? What is the relationship between anime and other forms of art, especially visual media? And, what does popular anime’s frenetic pace and excess of auditory and visual stimulation have to teach us about the norms of social life now?
In this course, we will consider the popularity of anime as an artform through its conditions of possibility, marketing, and, especially, its aesthetic qualities. Of particular interest is the question of genre: what is anime’s relation to well-known cross media genres like realism and fantasy? Given the historical genesis of animation, how might we think of it in relation to race and nationalism? Alongside such questions, we will also consider the place of multiculturalism, gender, race, sexuality, and political history and catastrophe in animation. How has anime variously addressed and expressed social, political, economic, and ecological anxieties? Considering the scope of affective dimensions within anime as well as a range of interpretative methodologies available, we will read and watch across a diverse array of scholarship and animation. Work by Hiroki Azuma, Thomas Lamarre, Susan Napier, Stuart Hall, and Sianne Ngai will anchor our discussions of anime like Princess Mononoke, Attack on Titan, Neo Yokio, Naruto, Japan Sinks, Paprika, and others.
Course ScheduleMonday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
April 11 — May 02, 2022