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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Event date: 
Monday, 9 November, 2020 - 18:00 to 19:30


Playfully Serious: Holocaust Manga in the Age of Connective Memory

In search of critical potential, Comics-Studies scholars and Japanologists have explored the relation between reflexive distance and affective immersion, historical realism and melodramatic excess, education and entertainment, and they have not rarely arrived at determining a preferred balance in which the counterparts remain discrete entities. Media texts that collapse such order may easily appear ill-equipped – or too ethically corrupt, privatized, escapist – to represent serious issues like, for example, the Holocaust, due to lack of aesthetic balance. The concept of connective memory, however, sheds a different light on alleged shortcomings. My talk shall demonstrate this on the example of two Anne-Frank manga: a 22-page short fiction by TNSK (b. 1984) published within an ‘educational’ framework in 2015, and a 430-page long graphic narrative by female artist Kyō Machiko (b. 1980), ANoNE, serialized in a women’s manga magazine 2011–2013. My aim is not to employ the manga texts as means to explore the Japanese reception of the Holocaust in general and Anne Frank’s Diary in particular, but to investigate how the focus on playfulness helps us to reveal the potential of manga as a form of contemporary graphic narrative, with regard to inviting participation by both the geopolitically and the generationally uninitiated.

Jaqueline Berndt is a Professor in Japanese Language and Culture at Stockholm University. She is co-editor of Manga’s Cultural Crossroads (Routledge, 2013) and Shōjo Across Media: Exploring “Girl” Practices in Contemporary Japan (Palgrave, 2019), and she authored Manga: Medium, Art and Material (Leipzig UP, 2015). Her scholarly work is in the area of comics/manga studies and animation/anime studies, and engaged in relating New Formalism to Media Studies.

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in ’t Veld, Laurike (2019), The Representation of Genocide in Graphic Novels: Considering the Role of Kitsch. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Whaley, Ben (2020), “When Anne Frank Met Astro Boy: Drawing the Holocaust through Manga,” positions: asia critique 28:4, 729–755.