November 5, 2018/ 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

The Charles E. Young Research Library Presentation Room

Image/Argument/Thing: Stock Characters in Japanese Picturebooks from the Postwar to the Present

Colloquium with Professor Heather Blair, Indiana University Bloomington

Picturebooks may seem innocent, but they operate as foundational sites for cultural transmission, teaching the youngest members of society who we are and how we fit into our world. In Japan, most adults construe the mainstream picturebook repertoire as being wholly un-religious, and yet it is pervaded by characters, imagery, and ideas with recognizably religious pedigrees. To explore the question of why this might be, this talk focuses on several well-known stock characters. More particularly, it analyzes how such characters have migrated from religious culture into secular picturebooks, what they do once they have arrived, and what happens when they become commodities, which is to say, kyarakutah. In the process, it shows that stock characters with religious pedigrees simultaneously operate as images, arguments, and things.


About the Speaker

Heather Blair is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University. A Japan specialist, she focuses primarily on lay religiosity and intersections between visual culture and religion. Her publications include Real and Imagined: The Peak of Gold in Heian Japan (2015) and articles in venues such as Monumenta Nipponica, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, and Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. She is currently working on a monograph provisionally titled The Gods Make You Giggle: Finding Religion in Japanese Picturebooks.


Event made possible by UCLA Library