Negotiating the Japanese Postmodern Identity Lecture and Film Series

The UA Japan Club and the Asian Studies Program present “Negotiating the Japanese Postmodern Identity” Lecture and Film Series on 3 Monday nights in April. The lectures (April 4 and 18 only) will be at 5:30 pm in Smith Hall 205. The film screenings (Apr 4, 11, and 18) will be at 7:00. Japanese food will be available between the lecture and the film screening. The schedule and guests are as follows:

April 4, 5:30 Lecture Science Fiction and Post-Apocalyptic Scenarios

Dr. Joseph Murphy, Associate Professor of Japanese, University of Florida

The broadcast of Anno Hideaki’s Neon-Genesis Evangelion (1996) was a seminal moment in anime history, where low and high-end otaku sensibilities combined to produce a series well worth the serious critical attention of adults.  However, it is also an example of a type,  of the mecha genre of science fiction.  Using the Aristotelean reasoning of Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism (1957), this talk will develop a definition of the science fiction genre in terms of alternate worlds, and raise the question whether the post-apocalyptic scenarios that are a staple of the mecha genre indicate a utopian, or dystopian, sensibility.  Concentrating on the “post-“, I will argue that post-apocalyptic scenarios are always about a new beginning.  The question then becomes what is the new beginning being sought?

Our lecturer, Dr. Joseph Murphy, received a BS in Mechanical Engineering, and advanced degrees in Modern Japanese Literature and Film.  He is author of Metaphorical Circuit: Negotiations between Science and Literature in 20th Century Japan (Cornell, 2004), co-editor of The Theory of Literature and other Critical Writings of Natsume Soseki (Columbia University Press, 2008), and an article in the forthcoming The Cognition of Literature (Univ. of Texas Press, 2011).  He is currently Assoc. Professor and Assoc. Chair of the Dept. of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Florida.

April 4, 7:00 Film Neon-Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion (ANNO Hideaki, 1997)

This film serves as an alternate ending to the groundbreaking animated science fiction television series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Divided into two parts, Air and My Purest Heart for You, the film depicts the violent and apocalyptic completion of the Human Instrumentality Project, where individual identity is destroyed to create a single existence for all human beings.

Introduced by Dr. Joseph Murphy, University of Florida.

April 11, 7:00 Film The Bird People in China (MIIKE Takashi, 1998)

A young Japanese salaryman is sent by his company to a remote Chinese village to evaluate precious Jade that is found there, but before he arrives meets the yakuza who was sent to tail him to protect his boss’s interest in the company. When the men finally arrive their mission becomes sidetracked by their interest in a mysterious young village girl, her haunting English language song and the secret that makes men fly like birds.

April 18, 5:30 Lecture The Haunted Archipelago: Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Contemporary Japanese Eco-Horror Cinema

Dr. Tim Palmer, Associate Professor of film studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

Since the 1950s, Japan has targeted its films for international circulation, exporting a vision of Japaneseness to foreign markets.  This talk explores how this cinematic portrait of the Japanese landmass has changed, from a frequently utopian view in the classical period, to one of dystopian horror in the contemporary era.  Focusing especially on the extraordinary career of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, we will consider how modern Japanese horror film blends high art with low art, idiosyncratic intellectual stylings with the features of mass pulp genre, exploring provocatively in films such as Barren Illusions (1999), Pulse (2001), Bright Future (2003) and Retribution (2006) an exacting model of incidental apocalypse, of Japan forever poised on the brink of environmental collapse.

The lecturer, Dr. Tim Palmer, is Associate Professor of film studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  His work on Japanese cinema appears regularly in Film International and his most recent article on the subject was published in Framing the World: Explorations in Ecocriticism and Film (University of Virginia Press, 2010).  Palmer is also co-founder and co-Editor-in-Chief of Film Matters, America’s first peer-reviewed journal for undergraduates, published quarterly by Intellect Press.

April 18, 7:00 Film  Pulse (KUROSAWA Kiyoshi, 2001)

After one of their friends commits suicide, strange things begin happening to a group of young Tokyo residents. One of them sees visions of his dead friend in the shadows on the wall, while another’s computer keeps showing strange, ghostly images. Is their friend trying to contact them from beyond the grave, or is there something much more sinister going on?

Introduced by Dr. Tim Palmer, UNC Wilmington.

All events are free and open to students, faculty, staff, and the public.

These events are made possible by generous support from our co-sponsors: the UA Japan Club, Asian Studies Program, Departments of Anthropology, English, History, Modern Languages and Classics, and Telecommunications and Film, New College, and the Crossroads Community Center.