Call for Papers: Conference Visualization of Japanese History

call for papers [150-2]Call for Papers

Conference, University of Oslo, 10-11 March 2016

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Visualization of Japanese History

In modern and contemporary Japan we have seen how mass media such as historic novels, film and television, but nowadays increasingly manga and anime, have become a major influence in the shaping of views on national history. Film and television directors and manga and anime makers occupy an increasing share in the distribution of historical knowledge and it is no exaggeration that in this sense they have become the most prominent group of ‘historians’. It is no longer an exception that some directors and artists are rather evaluated on the basis of their credentials as a historian rather than as a creator. Are we as professional historians at ease with the fact that the voice of non-professionals overshadows and maybe even distorts our careful and painstaking labour in retracing, structuring, analyzing and conveying history to a present day audience? As history writers, can we approve of those who rather ‘make history’, i.e. convey ‘history’ on a completely different basis than that of ‘historical reality’? Can we be sure that the various artists and directors are autonomous and do not have to adjust their product to the agendas and mores of the state and commercial institutions? And if we cannot, what should we do? Pressure filmmakers and manga writers to use academic advisers? Make an effort to have our research findings visualized on television and in manga? Should we counter the influence of for instance Kobayashi Yoshinori by the mere means of the orthodox ‘book’ or should we counter him with equal means, i.e. manga?

The aim of this collective international research project is to conduct a comparative analysis of how the images and interpretations of the most outstanding periods and personages in Japanese history have changed over time, and to scrutinize which products of mass media were most instrumental in bringing about these changes. A related aim is to reflect upon the question what the increasing influence of the mass media on the ‘making’ of history implies for the academic trade of historical research. We will try to describe long-term structures, characteristics and recent developments in the field of the relations between the media, popular culture, academia, and collective historical memory. This is a field that both I and our keynote speakers Professors Fukuma (tbc), Gluck, and Otmazgin have focused on lately, largely related to questions of images and memories of the Second World War in Japan, and we will build on previous academic meetings on this topic. By bringing together scholars on history, media studies, and popular culture, we expect to stimulate new approaches to the study of Japanese ‘history-writing’ and to provide fresh insights into long-term structures and defining moments, characteristics and universal nature, changes and continuities, roots and future of the links between mass media and historical consciousness.

The results of the conference will be published, if possible in separate English and Japanese publications, in order to serve the global academic – and hopefully wider – community.
Place:  University of Oslo

Time:   Thurs-Fri 10-11 March 2016

Keynote speakers: Prof. Dr. Fukuma Yoshiaki (tbc), Prof. Dr. Carol Gluck, Prof. Dr. Nissim Otmazgin

Please send a 300 word abstract of your proposal by 31 December 2015 to

For more information, please send an email to the same address.


About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of graduate life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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2 Responses to Call for Papers: Conference Visualization of Japanese History

  1. Buri-chan says:

    I wish I could sit in and listen to this!

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