Universiteit Leiden

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Comix Cojinga

Monday 12 October 2020
Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies

Moving beyond the ethnocentrism, chronocentrism, and ocularcentrism inherent in comics theory based primarily on Ango-American comic strips and Franco-Belgian bande desinée, this speculative paper reconsiders the prevailing understanding of comics as a visual form of sequential narrative. Drawing on historical Japanese examples, such as illustrated boardgames (e-sugoroku), premodern maps, haiku images (haiga), woodblock-printed comics (kusazōshi), and manga over the longue durée, I propose that “comix” be broadly defined as any verbovisual text in spatiotemporal design playing upon non-Aristotelian senses beyond visuality. Ultimately, I suggest that Japanese comix, far from being the exception that proves the rule of Euroamerican hegemony, may well have always already been the dominant form of global comix.

Adam L. Kern

Adam L. Kern started reading manga as a high-school exchange student outside of Tokyo. His subsequent experiences in Japan (apart from research affiliations with the University of Tokyo, the University of Kyoto, and the National Institute of Japanese Literature) include a brief stint as an editorial intern in the manga division at Kōdansha. Kern earned a Ph.D. in Japanese Literature from Harvard University before becoming Professor of Japanese Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His course on manga has been profiled in a feature documentary that aired on primetime TV in Japan. Kern’s recent books include A Kamigata Anthology (Hawaii, 2020), Manga from the Floating World (Second Edition with a New Preface) (Harvard University Asia Center, 2019), and The Penguin Book of Haiku (Penguin Classics, 2018).

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