Speaking back to Techno-Orientalism (a partial syllabus)

From my class attempting to move the inquiries of Techno-Orientalism beyond the study of English-language writers – here’s parts of the syllabus I got to teach this quarter to a motivated set of students at UCR. I wrote this (and am sharing it) in the hopes that those who consider teaching classes or thinking about this topic try to include the voices of SF writers and critics from beyond the English-language world in their discussion. What happens when writers/filmmakers (who are Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Irish) who have consumed techno-orientalist media speak back?

Seminar in Comparative Literature: Techno-Orientalism

Professor Kathryn Page-Lippsmeyer|Contact: katep@ucr.edu

Course Description: This course surveys and interrogates the theoretical construction of Orientalism through its engagement with technology in the literary and visual imaginary of science fiction.  Techno-orientalism, a term coined by Morely and Robins, is defined as the Othering of Japan by the West that sees it only as an advanced technological dystopia. More broadly the techo-orientalist mode fetishizes Asia as the exotic future. In this course we consider the critical, material, and historical conditions that gave rise to the exotification of Asians through literary technologies, and how those constructions are, in turn, engaged with by writers and artists from Asia themselves.  Additionally, we will explore the geopolitical logics that emerge from these fictions, including the legacies of globalization and high-tech labor, occupation and imperialism, and the relationship between science fiction and literature.  Prerequisites: This course is open to graduate students in good standing and undergraduate students with approval of instructor; all literature will be read in translation and all films are subtitled in English.

Fictional imaginings (short stories, novels, films, etc.):

Doyle, Arthur Conan. “The Speckled Band.” The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Novels. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005. 227-263.

Dick, Phillip K.  The Man in the High Castle.  1962.  New York: Vintage, 1992.

Abe Kobo. Box Man. Trans. E. Dale Saunders. Knopff/Vintage Press, 2001.

Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. Warner Bros, 1982.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. Penguin, 2000.

Liu Cixin. The Three Body Problem. Translated by Ken Liu. Macmillian, 2014.

Oshii Mamoru, dir. Ghost in the Shell. Bandai Visual, Manga Entertainment, 1995.

Oshii Mamoru, dir. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Production I.G., 2004.

Bacigalupi Paolo. The Windup Girl. San Francisco: Night Shade, 2009.

McDonald, Ian. Evolution’s Shore. New York: Bantam, 1995.

Pak Min-gyu. “Road Kill” Trans. Esther Song. Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture. Vol 6, 2013. 135-155.

Theories and critical texts (a partial list)

Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1979.

Morley, D. and Robins, K. “Techno-Orientalism: Japan Panic.” Spaces of Identity. Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries. London: Routledge, 1995, 147-173.

Delany, Samuel R.  The Jewel-Hinged Jaw:  Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. Rev. ed. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2009. Chapters 1-4 (page 1 – 43)

Sakai Naoki, “Translation,” Theory, Culture & Society 23.2-3 (2006): 71–86.

Jameson, Frederic.  Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991.

Sohn, Stephen Hong. “Introduction: Alien/Asian: Imagining the Racialized Future.” Melus 33.4 (2008): 5-22.

Roh, David, Betsy Huang, and Greta Niu. Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media. Rutgers UP: 2015.

Park, Jane. “Re-Orienting the Orientalist Gaze.” Global Media Journal 4.6 (2005): 1-15

Song, Mingwei. “Variations on Utopia in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction.” Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 40, No. 1, Chinese Science Fiction (March 2013). P 86-102.

Brown, Steven. “Machinic Desires: Hans Bellmers’ Dolls and the Technological Uncanny in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.” Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture. 13-54.

Ueno, Toshiya. “Japanimation and Techno-Orientalism.” The Uncanny Experiments in Cyborg Culture. Ed. Grenville, Bruce. Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, 2001.223-231 http://www.t0.or.at/ueno/japan.htm

Ueno, Toshiya. “The Shock Projected Onto the Other: Notes on ‘Japanimation and Techno-Orientalism'” The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture. ed. Grenville, Bruce. Vancouver, B.C.: Vancouver Art Gallery, 2001. 232-236

Hayles, N. Katherine. How we Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Hollinger, Veronica. “Humanity 2.0: Retrospective, Abjection, And The Future-To-Come.” Mark Bould and Rhys Williams, ed. SF Now. Paradoxa #26.

Smith, Eric D. “Introduction: The Desire Called Postcolonial Science Fiction.” Globalization, Utopia, and Postcolonial Science Fiction: New Maps of Hope. New York: Palgrave, 2012. 1-20.

Lozano-Mendez, Artur. 2010. “Techno-Orientalism in East-Asian Contexts: Reiteration, Diversification, Adaptation.” Counterpoints: Edward Said’s Legacy. Edited by Telmissany, May, and Stephanie Tara Schwartz. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 185-210.


About kathrynpagel

Working on my PhD in Japanese literature, visual studies, and new media.
This entry was posted in japanese fiction, japanese literary studies, japanese media studies, mass and popular culture, sci fi, syllabi, theory. Bookmark the permalink.

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