3/12 Dr. Alexander Zahlten

Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Systemic Paranoia: Media Intensification in Japan


Time: Friday, March 12, 3-5 pm CT

Zoom Registration: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0lduCtrj4oGNCA5_qiFdBFa2CJ8ALDwof- 

Discussant: Sophia Walker, Ph.D. Student, EALC and CMS

The Art and Politics of East Asia (APEA) workshop is proud to host Dr. Alexander Zahlten (Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University) who will present his paper, “Systemic Paranoia: Media Intensification in Japan.” He summarizes his paper as follows: 

This paper understands the occult boom – a media phenomenon in Japan stretching from the 1970s to the 1990s – as a vernacular media theory that expresses, commodifies, and frames the anxieties and cognitive responses to the pressures of intensifying media connectivity. The occult boom is also a political response to the perceived failure of the Japanese left in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and an attempt to formulate a different strategy, and to understand the political challenges differently. The occult boom also can be understood as a fundamentally paranoid theory that attempts to make sense of the new connective totality, but leads into a logic of catastrophe, with in turn catastrophic consequences in the 1990s.

Alexander Zahlten is professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His work focuses on popular film and media in Japan and East Asia from the 1960s to today. His publications include the co-edited volume Media Theory in Japan (Duke University Press, 2017, with Marc Steinberg) and the book The End of Japanese Cinema (Duke University Press, 2017). He is especially interested in the dynamics of intensified media ecologies, and his recent work touches on topics such as the relationship of electricity and film or ‘amateur’ film and media production. Between 2002 and 2010 he was program director for Nippon Connection Film Festival, the largest festival for film from Japan.


Please contact Jiayi Zhu (jiayizhu@uchicago.edu) and Sophia Walker (scwalker2@uchicago.edu) if you have any questions or concerns.
Jiayi and Sophia, Co-coordinators, Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop