This course explores the interplay between the impossibly seductive, permanently restless objects, stories, practices, and ideas within popular Japanese culture since World War II. Because the term “popular” also signals “youth”, this course examines the influence of young people on Japanese society and the rise of consumption and entertainment practices linked to the emergence of a distinct “youth culture” in the postwar period. With this twin focus on concepts of the popular and on youth, we will study how popular culture permeates daily life, enlivens social discourse, shapes consumer desires, counters official or dominant narratives, and presents alternative spaces of imagination and play. We will pay attention to how gender, sexuality, human and machine identities, and national and racial codes emerge and shift within the matrix of Japanese pop culture. Through anime, video games, manga, fashion, urban practices such as skateboarding and breakdancing, music, and cosplay, Japan’s global cultural influence and its own local transformations will be analyzed through theory and ethnographic accounts.

Gen Eds: VP, BN.