11/17/2023 Anthony Stott

PhD Candidate, EALC & Comparative Literature

The Asada Touch: An Archaeology of the Periodical in the Age of ‘New’ Media

Time: November 17th (Fri) from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

Abstract: This chapter undertakes a media archaeology of Critical Space (Hihyō kūkan, 1991–2002), Japan’s preeminent journal of theory and criticism edited by the philosopher-critics Asada Akira and Karatani Kōjin, along with other adjacent periodicals. Critical Space’s launch bore witness to the seismic geopolitical events that closed out the global short twentieth century and punctuated Japan’s transition from its bubble era to its Lost Decade. Particularly germane to this chapter’s concerns is the way in which these shocks ripple through Japan’s mediascape and how a reconsideration of the 1990s, an era identified with the emergence of “new” media, through the lens of the periodical—a form of so-called “old” media—can uncover alternative histories.

To thus excavate this mediascape via the periodical, this chapter focalizes the editorial praxis of Asada in a time where the role of the editor became ever more that of a producer. Situating Critical Space within Asada’s prior editorial endeavors in the bubble era and asking how the media history that emerges can be brought into dialogue with Euro-American periodical studies, it argues for the editorial praxis as inextricable from critique and vice versa. To these ends, this chapter embarks on multiscalar readings of Asada-edited periodicals within an expansively delineated media ecology, charting in particular how these periodicals index problems of patronage and neoliberalization, gender, and translation. Still more, by examining Asada’s editorial praxis within the radiant but forgotten histories of these periodicals, it mines the variegated critical and media-archaeological possibilities that these archives reveal against homogenizing narratives of media obsolescence.

Presenter: Anthony Stott is a PhD Candidate pursuing a joint degree in Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Both a Japanologist and comparatist, he specializes in the literature, media, and thought of contemporary Japan, with an emphasis on cultural and intellectual encounters that defy the disciplinary and geographical boundaries of Japan studies narrowly conceived. In particular, his work intervenes at the intersection of the history of criticism and media and periodical studies. His dissertation, “Formations of Critical Space: Japanese Theory, its Media History, and the Contours of Critique Beyond the Bubble,” explores questions of critique and its limits through formations of thinkers and artists around Critical Space (Hihyō kūkan, 1991–2002), Japan’s preeminent journal of theory and criticism.

Discussant: Dr. Paola Iovene is Associate Professor of modern Chinese Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Tales of Futures Past: Anticipation and the Ends of Literature in Contemporary China (2014) and a co-editor of Sound Alignments: Popular Music in Asia’s Cold Wars (2021).