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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Studying Shôjo Manga : global education, narratives of self and the pathologization of the feminine Spies, Alwyn

Abstract

This dissertation takes an interdisciplinary Cultural Studies approach to the study of shojo manga, or Japanese comics for girls and young women. Audience research is combined with textual analysis in order to explore roles for Japanese Studies in a global context. Building on the large body of Western academic writing on romance narratives and popular culture for girls (Radway 1984, McRobbie 1994, Ang 1996, Driscoll 2002) original ethnographic interviews with shojo manga readers are linked to close readings of major works by three key artists whose manga are marketed to female readers in Japan - Yoshida Akimi, Haruno Nanae, and Okazaki Kyoko. Various layers of "narratives of self" are identified within the shojo manga texts as well as within the ethnographic accounts in the dissertation and academic writing about shojo manga in general. Personal narratives are utilized to illustrate how the author's own academic writing (and this dissertation) form yet another layer of self-narrative. Connections are then made between these layers and the pathologization of the feminine; the manner in which feminist academics often construct a mature, active or independent identity in opposition to the silly complicit or passive girls clearly parallels the manner in which "the West" constructs its identity in opposition to a feminized "Orient". This then leads to the conclusion that studies of shojo manga and Japanese popular culture could be used for anti-racist and anti-sexist education - a key component of education for global citizenship.

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