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Panel 3: Mediating and Queering Representation

(Saturday 3:00 PM – 4:50PM)


“The Reality Behind the Fantasy of K-dramas: An Analysis of Indian Fans,” Neha Cariappa, University of San Francisco

Most South Korean dramas provide an outlet from everyday life into an illusive world of romance. This research aims to evaluate the impact that Korean dramas have on its viewers abroad and how K-dramas alter personal opinions on various topics like beauty, romantic partners, and relationships. For this project, I have chosen Indian fans to examine how fans tend to possess idealized perceptions about South Korea, Korean men, and romance in general, based on the fantasy that K-dramas present, which have both positive and negative influences on their personal lives. The reach of South Korean soft power among young Indians is currently underestimated, and through this research, I want to contribute by providing a more in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of Hallyu (Korean Wave) in India today. Through a survey of 142 Indian fans of K-dramas of varying ages, this project assesses the influence of K-dramas on their impressions about specific themes such as beauty standards, career ambitions of women, romantic preferences, family life, and sexist scenarios in K-dramas. This research intends to highlight the inevitable biased impression that international fans have of Korea, through a comparison of these recurring concepts in K-dramas with the actual situation in Korea today. By recognizing the fictitious nature of this form of media, the goal is to create awareness about the perpetuation of sexist ideals in K-dramas under the facade of the “perfect” partner and the “perfect” romance.

Keywords: media, popular culture, gender roles, sexism, international fans



Towards a Reclamation of the Queer Imagined-Self of Hanamonogatari,” Matthias Kramer, University of Oregon

That the anime-manga-geemu-light novel media-mix depicts female bodies as sexual commodities to be acquired, collected, and ultimately consumed by a preponderance of straight male consumers has become something of a stereotype of the medium. However, this heteronormative narrative is not the only one that can be read in contemporary Japanese multimedia. Following the path of scholars who have applied Eve Segwick’s theories of queer reading to Japanese literature including Iida Yuko, J. Keith Vincent, and Tim Reichert, this project aims to queer the I-novel reading mode theorized by Suzuki Tomi in order to read and reclaim a queer counter-narrative that has been overcast by the straightening anime adaptation of Nisio Isin’s light novel Hanamonogatari. The stakes of this queer reading are high, as Nisio’s atogaki (afterword) suggests that the author and I-novelist of Hanamonogatari is not the mawari ga omou jibun (self as imagined by others) of Nisio, but rather the jibun ga omou jibun (self-imagined self) of Kanbaru Suruga, the supposedly fictional, queer female-performing narrator of Hanamonogatari. This paper first interrogates the issues raised by Nisio’s atogaki of the possibility of self-narrativization, representation, and the multiplicity of the self by taking seriously Suzuki’s theory of the I-novel reading mode, then juxtaposes this queer I-novel Hanamonogatari with its anime adaptation, where a pernicious drawn-male gaze has mixed in a male sexualizing voyeur into the perspectival landscape of the anime. What the paper aims to achieve is to re-view the anime along queer phenomenological lines in order to reimagine the imagined-self who has been relegated behind the visualizing regime of the anime adaptation.



“Motherhood and Mayhem: Urbanization and Housewifization in Korean Literature” Kristina Horn, University of California, Irvine

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, South Korea as a whole underwent a major economic transformation. As a result of increased urbanization during the 1960s, the structure of the South Korean household shifted from one of an extended household to a nuclear household. While the increased urbanization of Seoul from the 1960s through the 1980s led to the emergence of the modern housewife⎯ who single-handedly managed the nuclear family in order to support her husband⎯ literature published both during and after this time period explored how this urbanized nuclear family structure actually isolated and disempowered the housewife. In an urbanized and industrialized society where labor is commodified, the unpaid work of the housewife, which is viewed as necessary for the success of her husband, is simultaneously devalued by the society itself.  This paper will examine how the processes of urbanization and “housewifization”⎯ as termed by Haejoang Cho⎯ inherently complemented one another and also contradicted each other. Additionally, it will look at how literature has worked as an instrument through which female writers have voiced social critique of the construction of motherhood and the nuclear family within Korean society.  In particular, I will focus on how literary works, such as Pak Wan-sŏ’s “Identical Apartments” (Talmŭn pangdŭl) and Shin Kyung-sook’s Please Look After Mom (Ŏmma rŭl put’ak hae), present the urban landscape as a means to both construct and define motherhood, while simultaneously destroying the bodies of mothers themselves.



Women and Labor in Buddhist Temples in Japan: Mama Priests and Performing Nuns,” Caitlin Adkins, University of Pennsylvania

Women’s labor remains central to the maintenance of Buddhist temples and spread of their doctrine in Japan. Despite this, scholarship about contemporary Japanese women and religion finds the majority of women working in temples relegated to positions of material precarity with few in roles of authority. Studies have thus focused on women’s lived experience as the hidden—and often undervalued—power of temple life as mothers, wives and daughters, and volunteer help. What about those who have negotiated androcentric systems to become highly visible religious leaders? In this paper, I explore what two “star” female priests, Rev. Naho Sakai and Tsuyuno Maruko, and their media prominence reveal about the lives of female religious professionals and changing manifestation of Japanese Temple Buddhism today. These figures defy prevalent either/or categorizations: they identify at once as women and religious professionals—two roles with oft conflicting expectations within the institutions in which they live and work—and have become public figures by demonstrating internalities. Taking up the various instruments these priests employ to negotiate constraints as well as to capitalize on the inherent contradictions within their public images, this paper asks how contemporary markets, media, and technology are affecting the perceptions and realities of women’s labor in religious contexts. In light of the myriad religious institutions in contemporary Japan and the range of working associations women have with them, there remains much to be said about shifting realities for Japanese women in 21st century religious contexts.

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