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Late announcement because I spent the last three weeks at a conference and then recovering my brain, but I successfully defended my PhD in Japanese Studies on October 27. YESSS DONE. I have a lot to say about what I found, where the research is going now, and where I'm going professionally, but for now I just want to point out where the stuff is.

In very short, the research describes the basics of how dojinshi (fan-made manga) are exchanged in Japan, and tries to think about what that system of exchange means for fans/companies/other stakeholders in the Japanese cultural economy. Although I went in with the aim of getting a degree in Japanese Studies, the research was conducted and written up with an audience of English-speaking fans and fan studies scholars in mind. I look at dojinshi exchange through two closely related lenses that others have also used to frame creation and exchange of "amateur" works - "hybrid economies" and "open source cultural goods". This led to a lot of food for thought, especially in relation to how fanworks are exchanged and sometimes monetized elsewhere, like on the English-speaking internet. More about the actual results in later posts.

Here's a more structured summary of the research in presentation format. Made for the defense, so it's still very condensed, but it has more details and pretty pictures.

(First and last time that I've ever used my uni's official boring template for a presentation. I wanted to do it just once.)

Secondly, you can get the full text of the thesis on http://www.nelenoppe.net/dojinshi/thesis, divided into the following chapters:

The thesis text linked to here is what I defended last month, but it isn't meant to be final. It's more of a snapshot of ongoing work. The text is on a wiki, so it can and will change as facts or interpretations evolve. (For instance, in a discussion about the accessibility of various dojinshi distribution channels for non-Japanese fans, I talk at some length about how Japanese dojinshi retailer Toranoana doesn't ship outside the country. But Toranoana has actually started shipping outside Japan now, so I'll have to change that bit soon.)

Because the text is likely to be modified and corrected a lot, I decided not to put a fixed PDF on the site. If you want a PDF, epub or odt version, you can have one generated on the fly from the latest up-to-date version of the wiki text. Everything is licensed CC-BY-SA, so please use it! More wiki talk soon, there will be much more on there as the giant thesis text is ummm reprocessed into more practical formats, for instance in Fanlore and Wikipedia articles.

Comments/corrections/critique/requests for info are extremely welcome. There's a comments section under every chapter, and the homepage of the wiki contains info about where else I can be reached. There's a lot of rough spots and holes in the research still, but at least I have over 100K actual finished written words to build on now. *beams*

I hope this will be a fun and useful read, especially for all the many fannish and academic friends who helped me out and cheered me on over the years. THANK YOU.
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The info on fan culture that's on English-language Wikipedia right now is lacking to say the least, and what's there on dojinshi is not very great either. My Japanese advisor is visiting for a couple of months, and she actually printed out the English-language Wikipedia article on dojinshi and brought it so she could rail at me about everything that's wrong with it.

Given how many people start and stop with Wikipedia when they're trying to find out what something is, having bad info on there is a real problem. Must fix! I'll tackle the main article later, but for now, here are a couple of short articles on some basic dojinshi exchange concepts:

They're very incomplete still, please edit further. I'll put the texts up on Fanlore too later.

I built them mostly out of thesis draft bits, and rewriting them to Wikipedia standards was a surprising amount of work. Particularly the "no original research" rule was hard. It says you can only state facts that you can source, no editorializing, which is very sensible in and of itself. But clearing writing of all editorializing, ummm cough academic analysis, was so much work that I'm not sure I can motivate myself to do this often. Maybe should figure out how to mark up text in the thesis draft so I can strip out the editorializing automatically for Wikipedia purposes.

unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Presented this yesterday at a workshop on Japanese pop culture for grad students. It’s a quick intro to dojinshi exchange as a “hybrid economy” of market and gift economies, and an argument that dojinshi exchange is a very promising business model to allow fans and professional creators to cooperate - a business model that the Japanese government would do well to promote, rather than jumping on Hollywood’s rah-rah-copyright bandwagon like it’s doing at the moment. (Bigger version here)

unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)

Here's my presentation for SGMS (Schoolgirls and Mobile Suits), which is going on right now in Minneapolis. On the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement's possible legal threat to dojinshi exchange, and one of the solutions that are being tried in Japan - the dojin mark, a kind of license for fanworks. Which I will blog about as soon as I have a brain again.

unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
The new academic book Manga's Cultural Crossroads is very shiny and has several chapters on fans, including one by me on Harry Potter fan comics on deviantART and pixiv. Writing this one was as fun as it was hard, and I'm terribly pleased with how it turned out *cuddles book*

I can't upload the actual chapter for the usual copyright reasons, but here's an earlier unpublished, non-peer-reviewed version of the text that I hope you may enjoy. Please poke me with any thoughts or suggestions - what's published is published, but I hope to use a lot of this in my PhD dissertation as well.

It has become commonplace for English-language studies about Japanese- and English-speaking fans of manga to mention that the Internet in general and social networking services (SNSs) in particular play a crucial role for the functioning of contemporary "transcultural" fan communities. DeviantART and pixiv, for instance, are two famous image-based SNSs that have become hubs for very active fan communities centered around the exchange of fannish visual media. Such services are not just convenient places to socialize and maintain fan communities, but also distribution systems whose functionality is geared exactly towards what fans want to do with the works they create: share them, and have them appreciated and talked about by other fans.

Several recent studies have focused on how fans use SNSs as communication hubs or as distribution platforms. However, it may be misleading to present these two functions as wholly separate, as no more than the “Internet versions” of pre-digital forms of communication and distribution. Research on the nature and effects of interactions around media on SNSs shows that the “digital conversations” that take place on SNSs have their own particular characteristics that influence what can be said, who can say it, and what the results of the conversation can be. These characteristics profoundly influence not just the interpretations of media distributed through these services, but also the very content of the media themselves.

In this chapter, I make a first attempt at clarifying the complex ways in which the particular nature of digital conversations (boyd and Heer 2006) works to influence fannish interactions on SNSs, with a special focus on how these digital conversations on SNSs help or hinder transcultural interactions between Japanese- and English-speaking fans of manga, comics and other media. I conduct a comparative case study of digital conversations around a particular kind of fanwork that is often distributed and discussed through SNSs: fan-created comics and manga (also called doujinshi). More specifically, I focus on "Harry Potter"-based fan-created comics and manga distributed via deviantART and pixiv.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
I've got a little more than a year to go with my PhD on dojinshi, so it's high time to start writing the final dissertation and put more concrete results out on the internets. It's more motivating to write in public, and of course I also hope that people will come in and poke me with corrections or suggestions while there's still time to take those comments into account. (Please do, I will love you forever and credit you all over the place. And make thank-you drabbles/drawbles if you want any.)

My online presence has changed quite a bit over the last few years, so I thought I'd give a quick update about where to get info or updates about the research:
  • I've started writing the dissertation and am posting short daily updates about progress on Tumblr, with links to the stuff that's been done.
  • Unjapanologist's Dojinshi Research is the wiki where I'm drafting my dissertation.
  • This Dreamwidth journal is updated only now and then when there's something bigger to report, and I don't forget to report it - times are busy. My apologies for the sparse updates here. Please check out the wiki or Tumblr for the most recent stuff.
  • Shorter or more incoherent things go into Twitter
  • Various notes and quotes for research that haven't been processed anywhere else yet are in an online notes and quotes book.
  • Other academic works and projects I've done up to now are on Academia.edu, with full text copies of articles, links to all presentations etc etc.
Quick basics: my PhD research focuses on doujinshi, Japanese print fanworks that are often sold for money with the tacit approval of copyright holders. I frame doujinshi exchange as a hybrid economy that straddles fannish gift economies and commercial economies. By comparing these fanworks with other kinds of works that are exchanged in such “hybrid” economies, like open source software, I’m developing a vocabulary for explaining fanworks as a sort of “open source cultural goods” that fit in very well with many other “open” movements today. Open source is already a well-known and well-understood mechanism for “non-professionals” to create valuable things for the sake of fun and community instead of for profit, while still interacting in a mutually beneficial way with the commercial economy as well. I’m convinced that framing fanworks as part of an “open” movement should be very helpful in explaining (also to non-fannish open culture activists, policymakers, and so on) what role fanworks play in the broader cultural economy.

*ties on victory bandana*
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Here's the presentation I'll be giving at the 'Media fandom and/as labor' panel at Console-Ing Passions in Boston, which takes place at 15h30 today (in about four hours). The hashtag for the conference is #CP2012 in case you want to follow along; the sessions aren't streamed, but people are livetweeting quite a bit.

I introduce the Japanese dojinshi market as a fanwork exchange system involving money that actually works (to a certain extent), and use Lawrence Lessig's concept of the hybrid economy that links gift and commercial economies to explain why the presence of money in this particular fannish gift economy isn't seen as problematic by fans or companies.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Today was the last day of the Japan Society for Research in Cartoons and Comics' annual big meetup, and the topic of the final session was doujinshi and copyright. On stage were a manga researcher, a fan researcher, an IP lawyer, a representative from a large publishing company, and a professional mangaka with strong ties to doujin fandom. They spent two hours tossing around ideas for how to legalize doujinshi and make sure that possible tightening of Japanese copyright law (via, say, the TPP) won't harm either doujinshi creators or media companies.

Read more... )

unjapanologist: (Default)
For those who were interested in the different meanings of the word "genre" in doujin fandom a few months ago, I wrote a Fanlore article about it. Needs some polishing, but the basic info is all there.

Somehow, the hardest part about making Fanlore articles is the math captcha that you need to fill in to be allowed to create the page. It's not that the sums are difficult. You're just done with writing, you think you can switch your brain off now, and then SURPRISE MATH.
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Forgot to mention this because the acceptance notification came while I was in Deadlineville. I finally get to visit the US! The place is pretty famous, so this is all rather exciting.

The main reason for this trip is Console-ing Passions, a feminist media studies conference that will take place in Boston on 19-21 July. l'll be part of Mel Stanfill's panel 'Media fandom and/as labor'. Rebecca Carlson and Karen Hellekson will be on that panel as well. It looks like I'll get to meet a ton of people I've only ever spoken with over the internet, which is awesome.  Read more... )
unjapanologist: (hey ozai)
Home from Tokyo, will get cracking on a bunch of replies now. In the meantime: I looked at the list of pairings on the cover of this dojinshi and felt like a really, really undeveloped fannish person because I only know how to ship mere humans. I should get more practice at looking at the world around me and finding the shipping angle in everything.

Read more... )
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The second International Convention on Manga, Animation, Game and Media Art (ICOMAG) will be held in Tokyo this weekend. This year's title is 'Commons of Imagination: What Today’s Society Can Share through Manga and Animation'. The conference aims are described as follows:

Read more... )
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Comiket as a market for fanworks

Introductory post about Comiket, written for TWC's Symposium blog. Since most people have at least some idea of what generally happens at cons, I decided to skip descriptions of the cosplay and such in favor of focusing on how fanworks are sold at Comiket and how Japanese dojinshi fans relate to rights holders. That should be a bit more interesting. I got some numbers out of the Comiket catalog about what people earn by producing and selling their dojinshi (in short, the majority lose money), which I'll talk about in more detail over here in a week or so.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Welcome to part two of this ridiculously long-winded Comiket report. Now that we've dissected the catalog, let's have a look at the general atmosphere of the actual con.

Read more... )
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Note: Comiket is an absolutely huge event, and it's going to take a couple of long posts to describe everything that interested me about it. I'm writing these posts first and foremost from a fan studies perspective, as part of my research, but they may contain traces of squee.

Read more... )
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As promised, here's my talk from the conference Intercultural Crossovers, Transcultural Flows. You can see the presentation in Prezi form below, followed by a quick summary in text form.

(Note: this is just the condensed version of the talk, not a full speech text or conference paper abstract, although a paper based on this talk is in production and will be published sometime in the first half of 2011. I'll be expanding on this text in the near future, adding extra links and hopefully a couple of spinoff posts based on my favourite points of the talk.)

Read more... )
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The Kyoto International Manga Museum live-streamed its conference on the "virtual children" problem earlier today -the video is still available here. It was a good symposium, with many of the most important problems of this proposed legislation being explained by some very knowledgable people. I'm writing a longer post after I've gotten my grubby hands on a summary of Ito Go's presentation -he was the only one who spoke a bit too quickly and indistinctly for me to follow, and I don't want to misrepresent his words. For now, just a quick word on one of the topics raised that resonated the most with me: what happens when people are unwillingly faced with sexual imagery in public places.
Read more... )
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Apologies for ignoring you, internets, truly -it's been a mad couple of months with lots of deadlines everywhere. Some good news: my colleague Hans and I are guest editing an issue of the online e-journal Image [&] Narrative dedicated to the visual language of manga. "Manga" most definitely includes dojinshi and any other fan comics with a manga slant, so I'm reposting the call for papers here as well. Please throw us questions and comments and fascinating proposals! We're working on a Japanese translation of the CFP, too.


Call for papers: the visual language of manga )
unjapanologist: (Default)
(Beware, lots of links to Japanese-only sites in this one.) While I was in Japan last month, my Japanese advisor dragged me to Haru Comic City so I could chat with a former student of hers who is now active as a dojinka in Tokyo. This was my second time at a big dojinshi convention (sokubaikai), but since I was only there for about five minutes at the very end on that first occasion, that one probably doesn't count. The one-day Haru Comic City was held in the same building as the more famous Comiket (the one with over half a million attendees), but in the end I didn't even get to see the fabled big halls because there were so many damned people in the way. The number of attendees was staggering and I was afraid of losing sight of my advisor, so I stuck to the smaller (heh) west halls. It sounds very abstract to say that the dojinshi market is worth 50 billion yen, but this is suddenly much easier to imagine when you're standing in the midst of an ocean of dojinshi-toting women. (The total manga market, pockets and magazines but minus dojinshi, is estimated at 450 billion yen. That's only nine times the value of the fannish manga market. 50 billion isn't peanuts by any definition, and the dojinshi market is still growing, while the manga market for pockets and magazines appears to be shrinking. Interesting.)
Read more... )
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Quick recap: Kristina Busse's keynote "Affect and the individual fan" was given at the Textual Echoes conference and can be viewed in its entirety online. Read more... )

Really stopping now. Part three will be on affect (still Kristina's keynote) and cute little kittens! (Edited for major html fail)


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