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Guest Talk: Why Should We Care About Six-Legged Characters?

September 12, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Center for Computer Games Research is pleased to announce a guest talk by professor Mary A. Knighton from the Aoyama Gakuin University (Tokyo, Japan) on insect characters in Japanese cultural production.

The guest talk will take place on September 12th, 4:00 PM5:00 PM, in Auditorium 4 at the IT University of Copenhagen.


“Why Should We Care About Six-Legged Characters?”

ABSTRACT: In willfully adapting Blakey Vermeule’s book title Why Do We Care About Literary Characters? (2009) for this talk, I aim not only to raise anew her provocative insights about why we as readers and consumers care about literary characters but also to ask whether her model may – or simply cannot – apply to more extreme examples of “character,” namely, insect characters in literary and cultural production. My research on insects in Japanese literature and culture works through problems of lyrical voice in narrative amidst Naturalist movements in early 20th-century Japan and extends to film and popular culture developments in manga and anime today. In this short talk, I will open with an interdisciplinary overview of the field but quickly move on to modern and contemporary case studies of insect characters in Japanese cultural production, arguing that insects augur a posthuman re-imagining of character shape and possibility even as they strangely and paradoxically revitalize the very humanist discourses they appear to tax or strive to undermine. With varying degrees of detail and emphasis, I will take up visual and literary texts by artists such as Edogawa Rampo, Kono Taeko, Abe Kobo, Tezuka Osamu, Sasuga Yu and Tachibana Keiichi.



Mary A. Knighton is Professor of Literature at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan. She has taught and published widely in both American and modern Japanese literature and culture. In Spring 2017, her essay on Mark Twain’s personal Joan of Arc appeared in Mark Twain Journal, and her essay on William Faulkner’s Sanctuary was published this summer in William Faulkner and Print Culture: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha (U of Mississippi Press). Currently, she is working on a monograph entitled Insect Selves: Posthumanism in Modern Japanese Literature and Culture, for which she received an ACLS/NEH/SSRC Fellowship in 2014 and was a resident fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and recently was awarded a Grant-in-Aid (kakenhi) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).


September 12, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


IT University of Copenhagen
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Copenhagen, 2300 Denmark
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