Why think about Anime in a Comparative Literature course? Isn’t Anime something we watch in our spare time, as a break from our “serious” learning? Comparative Literature offers all kinds of critical tools for thinking about so many aspects of culture, from the earliest poems to medieval manuscripts to the “memes” and trends of today’s digital era. All the big questions, from nationalism and imperialism to race and gender traverse the world of anime, everything down to questions of the meaning of being a person with a big imagination in today’s world. Yet anime has specific ways of bringing all these questions into vivid moving images and soundscapes.
How does anime make meaning? What’s the relation between manga (comics) and anime? How can we “read” an anime closely, and how do the forces of distribution make a difference, globally and locally? What are the powers of a plastic line? What would it mean to follow a meme, or a piece of software/technology for generating color, or a voice actor, or a character across media outside of the bounds of a single work? In this course, we will explore the history of animation throughout the 20th century, with primary focus on Japanese works (from Tezuka Osamu to Miyazaki Hayao to Kon Satoshi and beyond), and gain the tools to think critically about this influential medium. We will end by opening up cutting edge research topics in the studies of animation, mobilizing students’ broad range of backgrounds and knowledge for collaborative projects to add to the field.