The Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The Urban-Culture Research Center (UCRC) at Osaka City University (OCU) Present
Illinois - Osaka City University Exchange Symposium Series 2021: “Global Cultural Diffusion across Time, Space, and Media”
March 1-9, 2021, Virtual
Session 3: “Reimagining Gender in Fan Projects”
Tuesday, March 9, 2021, 5:00-7:00 pm US Central Time
Session Chair: Hisatsugu Kusabu (OCRC, Osaka City University)
- 5:00-5:10 pm
Misumi Sadler (CEAPS, University of Illinois)
Natalie Fugate (University of Illinois)
“Queer Romantic Subtext and Fanmade Text in Maria-sama ga Miteru”
- 5:45-6:15 pm
Yu Ishikawa (PhD, Secretary of UCRC, Assistant Professor of OCU, teaching popular culture)
“The sense of closure and openness in fan art: What the old and new media bring to women’s collective creations”
- 6:15-7:00 pm
Q & A
Queer Romantic Subtext and Fanmade Text in Maria-sama ga Miteru
by Natalie Fugate, University of Illinois
The Maria-sama ga Miteru series of novels by Konno Oyuki, first published in 1998, is an influential work in the yuri and girls' love genres, presenting a setting in which high school girls at a Catholic girls' school in Tokyo form "sisterly" bonds with each other. These bonds are deeply emotional and yet never cross over into explicit romance, instead remaining at a stage where there is plausible deniability about the nature of the relationship. This paper examines the ways in which Maria-sama ga Miteru portrays relationships between women, considering why the choice might have been made to have these relationships be platonic rather than romantic as well as what kind of an effect—positive or negative—such portrayals might have on society more broadly. One particularly interesting phenomenon at play when considering the influence of Maria-sama ga Miteru is that while the work itself is not explicitly romantic, rather than spawning a legion of imitators in that regard the genre has trended in a more romantic direction; more recent works with similar settings such as Shimura Takako's Aoi Hana depict characters who struggle with issues more clearly related to romance. Another key aspect of interest to me, on a similar note, is that of fan-created media reinterpreting the characters in the original text, often in a romantic way, and in doing so raising additional compelling questions about the nature of the source material. Is Maria-sama ga Miteru expressing a fundamentally conservative point of view that is being challenged by fans? Or is there something about the text itself that encourages the possibility of romance without explicitly condoning it? Examining the answers to these questions may lead to a clearer understanding of the ways in which queer relationships in fiction are interpreted by both creators and audiences.
The sense of openness and closure in fan art: the relationship between print and digital media in women’s collective creations
by Yu Ishikawa, PhD, Secretary of UCRC, Assistant Professor of OCU, teaching popular culture
Fan art in Japan has established itself as a creative activity by fans and a way to communicate with other fans. Specifically, fan art called yaoi (or boys’ love), which focuses on the male–male relationship, has gained high popularity among female fans. Since the late 1970s, it has been distributed at conventions in self-published magazines called dōjinshi (fanzines. After the 1990s, yaoi began spreading via the Internet, and most fans now use social network services (SNSs) for posting their artworks and announcements for selling fanzines and chatting with others who share the same fan interests.
How does the change in the mode of distribution affect women’s fan art? This presentation aims to consider the relationship between print and digital media in female-oriented fan art called yaoi. The research on fanzines collected at the Comic Market, the biggest fan convention in Japan, reveals that old and new media complement each other in case of yaoi. The presentation discusses that fanzines function as a permanent form of media to record fleeting fan creations on the Internet. Besides, SNSs also function as open media to expand multifarious yaoi fan creations.