Dr. Grace Ting, “Cats, Single Ladies, and Manga: Feminist Fantasies of Cohabitation in East Asian Discourses” (Thurs., 4/4, from 12:50 pm)

Lecture Title: “Cats, Single Ladies, and Manga: Feminist Fantasies of Cohabitation in East Asian Discourses”

Date: Thursday, April 4th
Time: from 12:50 to 2:00 pm 
Location: Baruch College, 55 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010
Venue: VC-4-165
Registration: https://forms.gle/obrMgAnKF9LLCG6H6
*Registration is required to attend the event (updated on 3/19). For non-Baruch students: Please note that members of the general public are welcome, but registration is required and must be completed by April 1st. You must also bring a valid ID in order to enter the venue.

My talk opens with an analysis of the 2023 anime series The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today (Dekiru neko wa kyō mo yūutsu), based on a manga by Yamada Hitsuji. The Masterful Cat depicts an incompetent protagonist who cannot cook and has an apartment full of trash before her new cat begins to manage her household. From a queer feminist perspective, how might we analyze the depiction of an utterly fulfilling lifestyle in which a cat prepares dinner everyday for an unmarried young woman? 

This manga can be contextualized within Japanese popular cultural representations of platonic cohabitation as well as anthropomorphic cats functioning as charming figures. In particular, I read The Masterful Cat against recent manga discourses about women building everyday lives together, especially those LGBTQ-friendly in nature. 

At the same time, these texts are linked to broader transnational discussions within East Asia concerning heteronormative pressures regarding marriage and reproduction. My talk touches upon Two Women Live Together (2019), a Korean essay collection by Kim Hana and Sunwoo Hwang that details the cohabitation of two women and four cats, as well as the term sheng nü  (“leftover woman”) and struggles over reproduction in mainland China. Especially compared with so-called “radical” East Asian feminisms harshly denouncing heterosexual marriage and childbirth, what kind of critique does Japanese popular culture offer?

About the Lecturer:
Grace En-Yi Ting is an assistant professor of gender studies at the University of Hong Kong, specializing in queer feminist approaches to Japanese literature and popular culture, particularly women writers and girls’ culture. She also writes on race and gender in academia. Her recent work reorients Japanese literature through transnational encounters with the Sinophone and women of color feminisms, theorizing a queer feminist ethical praxis for marginalized readers in diasporic Asian contexts.

Co-organized by The Japanese Program in Modern Languages and Comparative Literatuer and Baruch Japan Club and sponsored by the Harman Writer-in-Residence Program.

Should you have any questions/concerns, please contact Professor Shige (CJ) Suzuki SHIGERU.SUZUKI@baruch.cuny.edu

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