Category Archives: theory

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 … Continue reading

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The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction by Walter Benjamin

Benjamin, Walter. “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.” Illuminations: Essays and reflections. Hannah Arendt, ed., Harry Zohn, trans. New York: Schocken, 1969. pp. 217-252. For Benjamin film can provoke/train the masses, and this is his answer … Continue reading

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The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkeimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” in Dialectic of Enlightenment The upshot of mass culture for Adorno and Horkeimer is that, due to the reach of captialism, the culture industry penetrates everywhere, creates its … Continue reading

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Empire of Signs by Roland Barthes

Barthes, Roland. Empire of Signs. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982. Rather than somehow deciphering Japan, he is exploring his own position to exoticism, and ethnocentricism, he is creating a utopian thought experiment to get outside of his own paradigm … Continue reading

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S/Z by Roland Barthes

Barthes, Roland, and Honoré de Balzac. S/Z. New York: Hill and Wang :The Noonday Press, 1974. Barthes performs an analysis influenced by structuralist linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure that explores and (de)mystifies the link between a sign and its meaning. … Continue reading

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Discourses of the Vanishing: modernity, phantasm, Japan by Marilyn Ivy

Ivy, Marilyn. Discourses of the Vanishing: modernity, phantasm, Japan.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Ivy’s amalgam of cultural theory, anthropological research, and cultural criticism investigates peripheral sites she sees as vanishing “displacing Japanese ‘culture’ as a stable signification.” (21) … Continue reading

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Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals by Azuma Hiroki

Azuma Hiroki. Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals. Trans. Jonathan Abel and Shion Kono. Minnesota UP, 2009. Azuma theorizes otaku as posthistorical, specifically inspired by Kojieve’s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel where he sees US culture as animalistic as it is … Continue reading

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The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation by Tom LaMarre

LaMarre, Thomas. The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. LaMarre’s interest in “looking at the specificity of animation is the possibility for thinking the modern or postmodern technological condition with greater specificity.”  He … Continue reading

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Understanding Popular Culture. John Fiske

Fiske, John. Understanding Popular Culture. London; New York: Routledge, 2010. Fiske is arguing for a strategy of looking at popular culture from the ground up, suggesting that those who consume the products of mass culture do so in ways that … Continue reading

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Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity

Jardine, Alice. Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985. Part of the French feminist school (l’ecriture feminine), though attempts to both analyze and critique Franco-American feminist debates (American construction “woman as sexual identity” from French “woman … Continue reading

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