Media Theory in Japan

Book Pages: 440 Illustrations: 18 illustrations Published: March 2017

Asian Studies > East Asia, Media Studies > Film

Providing an overview of Japanese media theory from the 1910s to the present, this volume introduces English-language readers to Japan's rich body of theoretical and conceptual work on media for the first time. The essays address a wide range of topics, including the work of foundational Japanese thinkers; Japanese theories of mediation and the philosophy of media; the connections between early Japanese television and consumer culture; and architecture's intersection with communications theory. Tracing the theoretical frameworks and paradigms that stem from Japan's media ecology, the contributors decenter Eurocentric media theory and demonstrate the value of the Japanese context to reassessing the parameters and definition of media theory itself. Taken together, these interdisciplinary essays expand media theory to encompass philosophy, feminist critique, literary theory, marketing discourse, and art; provide a counterbalance to the persisting universalist impulse of media studies; and emphasize the need to consider media theory situationally.
Contributors. Yuriko Furuhata, Aaron Gerow, Mark Hansen, Marilyn Ivy, Takeshi Kadobayashi, Keisuke Kitano, Akihiro Kitada, Thomas Looser, Anne McKnight, Ryoko Misono, Akira Mizuta Lippit, Miryam Sas, Fabian Schäfer, Marc Steinberg, Tomiko Yoda, Alexander Zahlten


"An excellent selection of essays." — Aurelio Cianciotta, Neural

“Marc Steinberg and Alexander Zahlten cleverly edited this collection of essays, and it will likely become an important reference for critical re-examination of media studies in Japan and for reconsidering this field in the West, which means a reconstruction of the field of media studies.” — Shin Mizukoshi, Designing Media Ecology

“A groundbreaking collection. . . . The diverse range of rigorous and engaging essays make the collection as a whole essential reading for an extensive range of audiences in media studies, Japan studies, and humanities-based area studies more broadly.” — Franz Prichard, Pacific Affairs

“This groundbreaking collection is a welcome contribution to recent writing that focuses on Japan not only as an object of study but as a location of theory. Media Theory in Japan is a valuable start to necessary cultural commutation, a kind of atlas of thinking on media in Japan that only makes me wish for more pages.” — Michael Raine, Critical Inquiry

"The question of how to recognize the complexity of new media at the scale which it intervenes in our collective consciousness and everyday life is one that Media Theory in Japan leaves its readers to grapple with on their own. . . . What this provocative set of essays ultimately points toward is a future media studies, both in and of Japan, where theory and method effectively collaborate in the construction of its evolving tower of babel." — Hoyt Long, Journal of Japanese Studies

"[A] rigorously conceived and realised tome that provides solid foundations for future research in a wealth of disciplines, not limited to media studies and Japanology, but also notably for the social sciences." — Tom Mes, New Books Asia

"This groundbreaking collection—striking for its contributions from a range of disciplines and perspectives—boldly delineates the key questions and paradigms for understanding Japanese media theories while providing insight into their social and intellectual contexts. At last, thanks to Marc Steinberg and Alexander Zahlten, we can begin to make sense of the challenges and possibilities of Japanese media theory." — Thomas Lamarre, McGill University

"Fascinating and groundbreaking, this volume focuses our attention on a major paradox within the fields of English and German media theory—their twin obsession with Japanese media technologies and ignorance of media theory in Japan. Rectifying this situation, this volume reveals how context affects theory and how media theory is not a universal abstraction, but rather a series of local practices. A must read for all students and scholars of media theory." — Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, author of Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marc Steinberg is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University and the author of Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan.
Alexander Zahlten is Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Preface / Akira Mizuta Lippit  xi
Introduction / Marc Steinberg and Alexander Zahlten  1
Part I. Communication Technologies
1. From Film to Television: Early Theories of Television in Japan / Aaron Gerow  33
2. Architecture as Atmospheric Media: Tange Lab and Cybernetics / Yuriko Furuhata  52
3. The Media Theory and Media Strategy of Azuma Hiroki, 1997-2003 / Takeshi Kadobayashi  80
4. The InterCommunication Project: Theorizing Media in Japan's Last Decades / Marilyn Ivy  101
Part II. Practical Theory
5. McLuhan as Prescription Drug: Actionable Theory and Advertising Industries / Marc Steinberg  131
6. The Culture Industries and Media Theory in Japan / Miryam Sas  151
7. Girlscape: The Marketing of Mediatic Ambience in Japan / Tomiko Yoda  173
8. 1980s "Nyu Aca": (Non)Media Theory as Romantic Performance / Alexander Zahlten  200
9. Critical Media Imagination: Nancy Seki's TV Criticism and the Media Space of the 1980s and 1990s / Ryoki Misono  221
10. At the Source (Code): Obscenity and Modularity in Rokudenashiko's Media Activism / Anne McKnight  250
Part III. Mediation and Media Theory
11. An Assault on "Meaning": On Nakai Masakazu's Concept of "Mediation" / Akihiro Kitada  285
12. Much Ado about "Nothing": The Kyoto School as "Media Philosophy" / Fabian Schäfer 305
13. Kobayashi Hideo and the Question of Media / Keisuke Kitano  328
14. Media, Mediation, and Crisis: A History—and the Case for Media Studies as (Postcultural) Anthropology / Tom Looser  347
Afterword. The Disjunctive Kernel of Japanese Media Theory / Mark N. B. Hansen  368
Bibliography  389
Contributors  413
Index  417
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6326-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6312-5
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