FORUM Abstracts

Michel Hockx, “Finding the Text in the Study of Modern Chinese Literature”

This presentation looks for potential East Asian specificities in media culture by focusing on two widespread characteristics of modern Chinese textual work: magazine publishing and the integration of commentary. These characteristics tend to be ignored in textual analyses of modern Chinese literature, which arguably leads to analytical approaches being unnecessarily Eurocentric. Why can an issue of a magazine not be a text? Why should commentaries of online writing not be part of the text?

Two case studies are developed in this presentation. The first draws on material from a famous case of literary censorship from 1916. It shows how even censors of literature in this period conceived of magazine literature as something more than just a collection of individual texts. The second case study looks at a remarkable online fiction magazine from today, which has integrated commentary into its production of literary texts.


Keith Howard, “Sounding Korea”

This presentation explores three different mediatized soundworlds. All three represent Korea, but in very different ways. First I introduce the internationally iconic soundworld of kugak, Korean traditional music, with which South Koreans identify. It is a soundworld taught in schools, featured in films and TV dramas, and presented at national and international events. Contrasting this, the internally representative soundworld of North Korea, celebrated through the ‘ideologically sound’ lyrics of songs, forms my second example. Externally imitative of socialist realist songs elsewhere, this sound negotiates propaganda to serve as a crucial part of media presentations as well as public ceremonies and festivals. I argue that these two contrasting soundworlds actually constitute resolutions to shared experiences of colonialism and war. Third, I move to recent years, and to ‘Gangnam Style’ – a track that is decried by lovers of K-Pop, but a track that has been both deterritorialized in myriad parodied ‘selfies’, tearing apart concepts of the model minority and Asian difference, and also reterritorialized as a global success that, once its Korean words have been lost, is celebrated in Korea.


Thomas LaMarre, “Media Regions: Japanese Television and ‘Other Asias'”

I propose to look at how the distributive force of television has produced the sense of a distinctive Asian media region, with reference to two regionally popular Japanese multimedia series, Kyaputen Tsubasa (Captain Tsubasa) and Hana yori dango (Boys over Flowers). Building on Raymond Williams’ account of television as “social technology,” I will look at how television infrastructures, networks, and platforms have concretized flows of media into specific patterns, which are at once transmedial and transnational, and which tend to construct an analogy between the transmedial and the transnational. In other words, I will explore how the national technology of television has continually been expanded and amplified across media forms, platforms, and nations — into a transnational and transmedial social technology.

This transnational social technology is not automatically regional in its implications, however. Tensions arise between different ways of concretizing flows of media, which give rise to regional structures of feeling that at once evoke and displace experiences of nation belonging. The interest of looking at the formation of Asian media regions, then, lies its potential to force us to grapple with how the distributive force of media introduces polarizations into everyday uses, which we may wish to seize rather than resolve.

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