21G.039J | Fall 2015 | Undergraduate

Gender and Japanese Popular Culture


[C] = Condry, Ian. The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story. Duke University Press Books, 2013. ISBN: 9780822353942.

[G] = Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5000 Years. Melville House, 2014. ISBN: 9781612194196.

[H] = Higashimura, Akiko. Kurageheime Manga. mangareader.net.

[J] = Jackson, Stevi, ed. Women’s Studies: Essential Readings. New York University Press, 1993. ISBN: 9780814742150.

[T] = Takeyama, Akiko. Staged Seduction: Selling Dreams in a Tokyo Host Club. Stanford University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780804798549. [Preview with Google Books]


Introduction to the Course

  • What is “popular” culture, and how might it differ from traditional culture, high culture, and mass culture?
  • What are some “gender issues” related to Japanese popular culture?
  • Overview of the syllabus

No readings assigned
2 Feminist Social Theory and Cross Cultural Perspective

[J] Chapter 1: Feminist Social Theory.

[J] Chapter 3: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women’s Lives.

3 Guest Lecturer: Professor Edward Schiappa, Comparative Media Studies, MIT

Prior to the reading, please take the Gender Traits Test aka the Bem Test

Schiappa, Ed. “The Impossible Dream of Representational Correctness.” Chapter 1 in Beyond Representational Correctness: Rethinking Criticism of Popular Media. State University of New York Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780791474242. [Preview with Google Books]


Katsurada, Emiko, and Yoko Sugihara. “A Preliminary Validation of the Bem Sex Role Inventory in Japanese Culture.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 30, no. 5 (1999): 641–5.

Sugihara, Yoko, and Emiko Katsurada. “Gender-Role Personality Traits in Japanese Culture.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 24, no. 4 (2000): 309–18.

4 Women and Media + “Rotten Girls” (fujoshi) Manga

[J] Chapter 14: Representations of Women in the Media.

[H] Chapter 1: Sex and the Amars.

[H] Chapter 2: Pretty Woman.

[H] Chapter 3: Sukiyaki Western Django.

[H] Chapter 4: Enchanted.

[H] Chapter 5: Next Next Amars.

[H] Chapter 6: Take Me to the Aquarium.


Kamikaze Girls. Directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. Color, 102 min. 2004.

5 “Rotten Girls” (fujoshi) Manga (cont.)

[H] Chapter 7: Clear No Present Danger.

[H] Chapter 8: I Want to Become a Jellyfish.

[H] Chapter 9: Seven Amars.

[H] Chapter 10: Fatal Attraction.

[H] Chapter 11: Driving Mr. Hanamori.

[H] Chapter 12: In The Closet.

6 “Cool Japan” and Its Discontents

Miller, Laura. “Cute Masquerade and the Pimping of Japan.” International Journal of Japanese Sociology 20, no. 1 (2011): 18–29.

McGray, Douglas. “Japan’s Gross National Cool.” Foreign Policy, November 11, 2009.

Adorno, Theodor, and Max Horkheimer. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” Chapter 2 in The Cultural Studies Reader. 3rd ed. Edited by Simon During. Routledge, 2007. ISBN: 9780415374132.

Benkler, Yochai. “Introduction: A Moment of Opportunity and Challenge.” Chapter 1 in The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780300125771.

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Edited by Hannah Arendt. Schocken Books, 1969. ISBN: 9780805202410.

Christakis, Nicholas A., and James H. Fowler. Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. Little Brown and Company, 2008. ISBN: 9780316036146.

7 Henry Jenkins on Participatory / Convergence Culture

Jenkins, Henry. “Rethinking ‘Rethinking Convergence/Culture’.” Cultural Studies 28, no. 2 (2014): 267–97.

———. “Participatory Culture: From Co-Creating Brand Meaning to Changing the World.” GfK Marketing Intelligence Review 6, no. 2 (2014): 34–39.

Buy at MIT Press ———. “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture.” Chapter 18 in Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition. Edited by David Thorborn and Henry Jenkins. MIT Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780262701075.

Negus, Keith. “Rethinking Creative Production Away From the Cultural Industries.” Chapter 13 in Media and Cultural Theory. Edited by James Curran and David Morley. Routledge, 2005. ISBN: 9780415317054.

Lamarre, Thomas. “Otaku Movement.” In Japan After Japan: Social and Cultural Life from the Recessionary 1990s to the Present. Edited by Tomiko Yoda and Harry Harootunian. Duke University Press Books, 2006. ISBN: 9780822338130.

8 Capital, Debt, and Power

[G] Chapter 1: On The Experience of Moral Confusion.

[G] Chapter 2: The Myth of Barter.

Stiglitz, Joseph E., and Linda J. Bilmes. “The 1 Percent’s Problem,” Vanity Fair, May 31, 2012.

Piketty, Thomas. “Acknowledgements.” In Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Belknap Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780674430006.

———. “Introduction.” In Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Belknap Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780674430006. [Preview with Google Books]

9 Peer Review Writing Workshop No readings assigned
10 Robots, Gender, and Sexism in 21st Century Japan No readings assigned
11 Robots, Gender, and Sexism in 21st Century Japan (cont.)

Robertson, Jennifer. “Gendering Humanoid Robots: Robo-Sexism in Japan.” Body and Society 16, no. 2 (2010): 1–36.


Ghost in the Shell Arise: Border 1 – Ghost Pain. Directed by Kazuchika Kise and Masahiko Murata. Color, 58 min. 2013.

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Border 2 – Ghost Whisper. Directed by Kazuchika Kise. Color, 57 min. 2013.

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Border 3 – Ghost Tears. Directed by Kazuchika Kise. Color, 55 min. 2014.

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Border 4 – Ghost Stands Alone. Directed by Kazuchika Kise. Color, 59 min. 2014.

Time of Eve aka Eve no Jikan. Directed by Yashhiro Yoshiura. Color, 106 min. 2010. MoeTube.

12 Anime and Collaborative Creativity

[C] Introduction: Who Makes Anime?

[C] Chapter 2: Characters and Worlds as Creative Platforms.

[C] Chapter 3: Early Directions in Postwar Anime.


The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda. Color, 98 min. 2006.

13 Anime and Collaborative Creativity, cont’d

[C] Chapter 7: Love Revolution: Otaku Fans in Japan.

[C] Conclusion: Future Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Cultural Action.

14 Either attend class or attend Harvard University Professor Theodore C. Bestor’s lecture “Washoku on the World Stage: UNESCO and the Promotion of Japanese Cuisine.” Bestor, Theodore C. “How Sushi Went Global.” (PDF - 5.4MB) Foreign Policy 121 (2000): 54–63.
15 Gender and Performance

Robertson, Jennifer. “Introduction.” In Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan. University of California Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780520211513.

———. “Ambivalence and Popular Culture.” Chapter 1 in Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan. University of California Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780520211513. [Preview with Google Books]


Dream Girls. Directed by Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams. Color, 50 mins. 1994.

16 Host Clubs, Masculinity, and Seduction

[T] Prelude.

[T] Introduction: Promise of the Future.

[T] Chapter 2: Commodified Romance.

[T] Chapter 3: Entrepreneurial Attraction.

Allison, Anne. Excerpts from Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club. University of Chicago Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780226014876. [Preview with Google Books]


Ouran High School Club. Directed by Chul Han. Color, 105 min. 2012.

17 Onnagata Mishima, Yukio. “Onnagata.” In Death in Midsummer and Other Stories. New Directions, 1966. ISBN: 9780811201179.
18 Idols and Celebrity Culture

Condry, Ian. “Miku: Japan’s Virtual Idol and Media Platform.” MIT Center for Civic Media.

Galbraith, Patrick W., and Jason G. Karlin. “Introduction: The Mirror of Idols and Celebrity.” In Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture. Edited by Patrick W. Galbraith and Jason G. Karlin. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. ISBN: 9780230298309. [Preview with Google Books]

Glasspool, Lucy. “From Boys Next Door to Boys’ Love: Gender Performance in Japanese Male Idol Media.” Chapter 5 in Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture. Edited by Patrick W. Galbraith and Jason G. Karlin. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. ISBN: 9780230298309.

19 Gender and Games (featuring Kyrie)

Galbraith, Patrick W. “Bishōjo Games: ‘Techno-Intimacy’ and the Virtually Human in Japan.” Game Studies 11, no. 2 (2011).

Buy at MIT Press Ito, Mizuko. “Gender Dynamics of the Japanese Media Mix.” Chapter 7 in Beyond Barbie & Mortal Combat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming. Edited by Yasmin B. Kafai, Carrie Heeter, et al. MIT Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780262516068.

Consalvo, Mia. “Visiting the Floating World: Tracing a Cultural History of Games Through Japan and America” (PDF) Ohio University.

20 Queer Japan

Blow, Charles M. “Sexual Attraction and Fluidity,” New York Times, September 7, 2015.

McLelland, Mark J. “Japan’s Queer Cultures.” Chapter 11 in Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society. Edited by Victoria Lyon Bestor, Theodore C. Bestor, et al. Routledge, 2013. ISBN: 9780415709149.


We Are Transgenders. Directed by Lulu Ogawa. Color, 78 min. 1998.

21–23 Final Presentations No readings assigned
24 Conclusions and Future Questions No readings assigned

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Presentation Assignments