It’s been some time since I posted here – the trouble with writing every day is that at times it seems there are only so many words to go around. Most of those words for the last two years have been spoken for by the text of my dissertation. But today I submitted the finalized document to the Graduate School for their review. This entire process is not quite done (they have to review it first, and I will possibly have to make some changes), but it is in the very final stages. And since it is, I thought I’d acknowledge those who helped me achieve this work. This then is the only part of my dissertation that I’ll publish informally: my acknowledgements.
For five years Professor Akira Lippit has served as not just my dissertation committee chair, but as my mentor, advisor, and my inspiration. I always left our meetings filled with confidence, new insights, and the knowledge that I was fully supported in this endeavor.
I am also grateful for the feedback, encouragement, and advice of an incredible committee. Professor Henry Jenkins tirelessly offered transformative comments and his perpetual engagement continually inspired me to work harder. Professor Satoko Shimazaki challenged my thinking about the project’s scope and place, and her encouragement gave me conviction to believe in my own analysis.
While at USC I also received a great deal of informal support. I am extraordinarily thankful to Professors Anne McKnight and Kirsten Cather who, despite no longer being my formal advisors, continued to offer mentoring, encouragement, and critical interventions throughout this journey. They gave me foundational tools, and I hope my own work reflects in small part their intellectual rigor and commitment to scholarly excellence. Moreover, I am grateful for the mentorship of Professors Miya Mizuta, David Bialock, Sunyoung Park, Vanessa Schwartz, and Laura Serna. Miya encouraged me to do the preliminary research for this dissertation in her Art History class, and her comments on early drafts were invaluable to a scholar trying to find her voice. Without David I do not think my qualifying exams would have properly prepared me for the work you will read in these pages. Sunyoung’s timely comments on my prospectus made me rethink this project into manageable proportions. Vanessa tirelessly created a community of interdisciplinary scholars that made it possible for me to receive critical feedback. And Laura directed the Visual Studies writing group in that community – it it was her insightful feedback that propelled me forward from one chapter to the next.
The project took on intelligent shape through the feedback of countless scholars and friends in writing groups, associations, and at conferences. In Japan, my dinnertime conversations with Tatsumi Takayuki and Kotani Mari helped me think through the present day implications of my project. The thoughtful commentary of members of the USC Graduates Studying East Asia (GSEA) ensured my work was coherent and engaged with the larger discourses of Asian Studies. Some members of the GSEA have been there from the infancy of this project, and I really appreciate the fact that Melissa Chan, Amanda Kennell, Li-Ping Chen, Yunwen Gao, Chad Walker, and Haiwei Liu were willing to think through my work with me time and time again. I particularly want to thank the Visual Studies writing group: Umayyah Cable, Luci Marzola, Joshua Mitchell, Feng-Mei Herberer, Lara Bradshaw, Alison Kozberg, Kevin Driscoll, and Roxanne Samer. These dedicated and kind scholars were not only generous with their comments, they provided shining examples of the kind of intellectual work I hope this project displays. A chapter of this dissertation was presented at the Visual Studies Research Institute’s “Objects of Knowledge” series, where I am deeply grateful Brian Bernards was my respondent because he gave me further insight in how I would like to speak to multiple audiences. Other chapters were presented at conferences for the Association for Asian Studies, the Science Fiction Research Association, and the American Comparative Literature Association. The project benefited not just from the audience members’ questions and suggestions but from fellow panelists’ unstinting encouragement and feedback.
This dissertation was generously funded primarily by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the support of Endowed Fellowships organized through the Graduate School at the University of Southern California. Preliminary training and research was supported in part through the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship coordinated by the Center for East Asian Studies at USC, and in part through the Nippon Foundation Fellows Scholarship coordinated through the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama, Japan. The research for this dissertation was conducted at the National Diet Library in Tokyo, the Harvard-Yenching Library, the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, and the East Asian Library (part of the Doheny Memorial Library) at the University of Southern California.
Over the course of this journey I gathered a group of people from whom I hope I never stop learning. They offered unstinting support in ways too numerous to adequately acknowledge here. But I will try. Helen Page is more than a mother, she is an inspiration and a shining light, and I worked through so many of my fears and my intellectual tangles with her that this work is almost a joint endeavor. Ingrid Levinthal has been my comrade and my confidant: her insights reassured me when I thought everything was going wrong, and her willingness to spend three days a week on my couch writing meant I actually wrote it. Jon and Judy Lippsmeyer may never have become Japanese literature experts, but they also never wavered in their unstinting parental care and bountiful faith in me that made all of this possible. Sam Timinsky, little brother I never knew I needed, offered thoughts on everything from sentence structure to housemate wrangling. Christine Shaw has been my guide through the labyrinth of academic requirements and my cheerleader, always ready to remind me to celebrate life even while she offered line-by-line edits on funding applications. Lola Shehu watched over me and mother-henned me, and kept me on track. Tyler Wilson reminded me when to be sane and when not to be, and made sure I never forgot the wider world out there. And last, but not the least, Elizabeth Barrows kept the light on for me, listened patiently to all my worries and fears, and gave me hope that I could do this and held my hand when I worried I couldn’t. And look, I really did!