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Summer Research Report: Andrea Horbinski and Japanese Manga


Andrea Horbinski received a summer research award from the BCNM to support her dissertation research at the Harvard Yenching Library on Japanese Manga! Here’s what she discovered with the grant:

In June I flew to Boston to do dissertation research at the Harvard-Yenching Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I spent two days in and around Harvard Yard reading old Japanese manga magazines and looking at microfilms of Japanese-language newspapers from the height of the Japanese empire, including some rare issues of newspapers printed in the puppet state of Manchukuo. I also spent some time with reproductions of proletarian newspapers from the 1920s and 1930s, before the state crackdown on left-wing thought made such publications impossible.

My dissertation, “Manga’s Global Century,” is a history of Japanese comics from approximately 1905-2012. These materials are primarily concerned with my second and third chapters, which cover approximately the thirty-year period before and after Japan’s surrender in 1945. One of the things I’m interested in is the question of how today’s default idea about what manga is came to be the default, and these materials throw some fascinating light on alternate understandings of what manga was and could do than those that eventually became the mainstream in the 1950s. I’m excited to integrate this research that BCNM has supported into my scholarship, starting with my manuscript draft (three chapters down, three to go) and with a conference in Belgium at the end of October. As always, I’m very grateful for BCNM’s confidence and support.

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