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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Katharina Hülsmann

Katharina Hülsmann

Katharina Hülsmann
Transcultural Phenomena in Popular Culture, Gender Studies, Fan Studies, Media Culture in the Age of the Internet
(PhD Students, April 18, 2017 - October 31, 2017)

Japanese dōjinshi about the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Between Consumption and Subversion, Between Transcultural Fandom and Periphery

This dissertation examines the medium of Japanese dōjinshi (amateur manga publications) that transforms the US-American Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It interprets dōjinshi as a potentially critical reflection of Anglophone entertainment media by a Japanese fan audience. The approach draws its critical foundations from differing positions that have emerged in the field of fan studies since the 1990s, such as the dichotomy between mere consumption and subversive use of popular texts by audiences. Gender as a differentiating category pertaining to consumption and interaction with popular texts is also to be examined as well as transcultural and locally/culturally specific formations of fan culture. Many publications in the academic field of fan studies view fan cultures surrounding Boys’ Love and Slash narratives as a global phenomenon but the formation and social structure of fan cultures also show a local variety that makes an academic examination especially interesting.

The epistemological interest of the dissertation is best summed up in the following two questions that will be answered through research interviews with fan creators and analysis of their publications:

  1. Where do Japanese dōjinshi creators see themselves in the sphere of creative work in relation to the source material of the MCU?
  2. Where do Japanese dōjinshi creators see themselves in the sphere of a global and potentially transcultural fandom? Are local structures more relevant than transcultural developments and flows?

Both of these questions examine (perceived) power relations in popular media and its appropriation. While the first question focuses on the relationship between content creators and fan audience, the second focuses intra-fandom perceptions of (cultural) difference or equality. Previous examinations in the field of fan studies show complex ambiguities at work. It is likely that instead of decoding Japanese dōjinshi culture as either “subversive” or “affirmative, or either “transcultural” or “culturally specific”, a sophisticated field of ambivalence and ambiguity will be revealed.