The Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation Media-Content Research Project


The Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation Media-Content Research Project in conjunction with the University of Tokyo will host an annual summer program focusing on various aspects of Japanese popular media culture. The main theme of the program for its second year is “Mediated Worlds: Sociality, Publicness and Celebrity.”

The goal of this year’s program is to better understand how media technologies have transformed the category of celebrity and fame in Japan to produce new modes of socially mediated publicness. Consumer-information society has given rise to a culture of celebrity, wherein fascination with stars, pop idols, and personalities has erased the distinction between the public and private lives of individuals, and produced a society wherein spectacle, self-promotion, and surveillance structure everyday life and politics.

This year’s program will be focusing on film, television, and social media. It will examine socially mediated publicness in its many forms, including idols, voice actors, film stars, and television and net celebrities. It will examine how audiences are organized into fan communities for the consumption of goods and services, how fan and social activities are productive of capital, and how public figures hold affective and social meanings for audiences and collaborators.

The two-week summer program consists of two parts: lectures and experiential learning. The main organizers, Jason G. Karlin (University of Tokyo) and Patrick W. Galbraith (Duke University), have designed an intensive two-week program that will explore the theoretical and methodological connections between celebrity studies (persona studies) and audience studies (fan studies). The first week of the program will focus on transformations in the presentation of the public self. Professor P. David Marshall (Deakin University), serving as keynote speaker, will discuss how celebrity has become a powerful and pervasive trope in contemporary culture. For the second week, Professor Matt Hills (Aberystwyth University) will frame how audiences are attracted to and shaped by their shared interest in media objects as fans. Other lecturers tentatively include Gabriella Lukács (University of Pittsburgh), Noriko Manabe (Princeton University), Hideaki Fujiki (Nagoya University), Takako Inoue (Daito Bunka University), Akiko Takeyama (Kansas University), Kazumi Nagaike (Oita University), and Shunsuke Nozawa (Dartmouth College).

Taking the discussion out of the lecture hall, the program also includes various opportunities for experiential learning. In addition to visiting media archives, the program will conduct surveys at various fan events, as well as structured group interactions with media industry insiders and aspiring idols, voice actors, and Internet stars.

The summer program will provide participants with various opportunities to engage with contemporary Japanese media culture. Our hope is that the participants will pursue work related to Japanese media and popular cultures in the future, whether as critics, researchers, creators, producers, or editors. The program will accept 15 graduate students from universities around the world, who will collaborate with graduate students from the University of Tokyo. The program will be conducted mainly in English (though Japanese will help facilitate encounters and interactions outside of the classroom).

One of the aims of the program is to produce an edited volume with contributions from the participants in the summer program. This volume will be produced for undergraduate education on Japanese popular media culture. Each participant’s contribution to the planned edited volume will be about 3,000 words and will be prepared and submitted in the months following the summer program. Details regarding the participants’ submissions to the edited volume will be discussed during the summer program.

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