Vernacular Animism: Cartoon Animals and Multiethnic Empire

Vernacular Animism: Cartoon Animals and Multiethnic Empire

Dr. Thomas Lamarre - James McGill Professor in East Asian Studies & Associate Professor in Communication Studies, McGill University

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Room 4400, School of Management See map
165 Whitney Ave
New Haven, CT 06511

The Council is pleased to present the 20th Annual John W. Hall Lecture in Japanese Studies. 

This lecture will be followed by a dinner reception at the New Haven Lawn Club (193 Whitney Ave).

This talk proposes to situate Japanese animation of the 1930s and early 1940s at the intersection of three lines of historical transformation. First, there was the emergence of new technologies of animation and new ways of organizing animation production, which spurred dreams of producing feature-length animated films whose liveliness promised to rival that of cinema, and to push beyond the boundaries of the cinematic. Second, this situation also saw animation to begin to range across received boundaries of media — across media forms such as comics, films, magic lantern, radio, records, toys, and games, and across domestic and public sites of consumption. Finally, animation explored new ways of imaging and enacting human-animal relations, at a historical moment increasingly characterized by imperial conquest and total war with their ideologies of dehumanization and bestialization. Working across these three lines of technological, socio-medial and geopolitical transformation, Dr. Lamarre hopes to address some of the troubling legacies that continue to haunt animation as well as the radical possibilities yet to be explored. 

Thomas Lamarre teaches in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. He is author of numerous publications on the history of media, thought, and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, 2000), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen: Tanizaki Jun’ichirô on Cinema and Oriental Aesthetics, 2005), animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009) and television and new media (The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media, 2018).

The John W. Hall Lecture Series in Japanese Studies was established with generous support from Mrs. Robin Hall in memory of her husband.  Considered one of this past century’s finest scholars of the history of Japan, John Whitney Hall was born in Tokyo in 1916 and developed an interest in Japanese language, culture, and history at an early age.  After receiving his Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Harvard, Hall began his academic career at the University of Michigan in 1949 and came to Yale in 1961 as A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History, a position he held until his retirement in 1983.

Professor Hall specialized in the Ashikaga through Late Tokugawa periods, and throughout his career he wrote or edited some of the most important and influential volumes on Japanese history.  He contributed to the study of Japan through not only his writing, but also through service as chair of several local and national committees, including the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, the Association for Asian Studies, and the American Council of Learned Societies-Social Science Research Council (ACLS-SSRC) Joint Committee on Japanese Studies.

The Council on East Asian Studies hopes this lecture series will enable young and old scholars alike to remember John Whitney Hall’s work and grand contributions to the study of Japan.