Professor Karlin is the author of Gender and Nation in Meiji Japan: Modernity, Loss, and the Doing of History (University of Hawaii Press, 2014) and co-editor of Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and Media Convergence in Japan (Kinema Club, 2016).


He teaches graduate-level classes on gender, cultural studies, social media, computer mediated communication, and mediated publicness in the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo, which offers a Master's/Doctoral Degree Program: "Information, Technology, and Society in Asia" (ITASIA) in English. 


He is currently working on two books: the first is a study of Japanese television and advertising that examines how big data, social media, and celebrity is transforming industry and audience expectations; and the other is a case study analysis of the idol-group AKB48 that looks at the shift from the circulation of material goods to affects and experiences.


July 23, 2017

Open Lecture: "Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Militarism in Modern Japan"

Presenter: Sabine Frühstück (Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara)

Time: 17:00-19:00

Place: Faculty of Engineering Building 2 (工学部2号館), Room 92B.

This talk is about childhood, war, and play. Frühstück shows how children and childhood have been used as technologies to validate, moralize, humanize, and naturalize war and, later, with similar vigor, to sentimentalize peace. She argues that throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, the ever-changing conceptions of modern and “postmodern,” “old and new wars” insist on and exploit a specific, static, and bifurcated notion of the child: one that deems that the child, though the embodiment of vulnerability and innocence, nonetheless possesses an inherent will to war, and that this seemingly contradictory creature constitutes the very nature of the human. It is in this sense that, at its core, modern militarism is infantile. In examining the intersection of children and childhood and war and the military, Frühstück attempts to both identify the insidious factors perpetuating this alliance and rethink the very foundations and underlying structures of modern militarism.

July 03, 2017

Open Lecture: "‘It Doesn’t Take a Human to Sing a Good Song’: Assembling the Layers of Hatsune Miku"

Presenter: Nick Prior (Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh)

Time: 13:00-15:00

Place: Faculty of Engineering Building 2 (工学部2号館), Room 92B.

Based on research recently undertaken in Tokyo and Sapporo, this talk will explore one aspect of the virtual idol and crowd-sourced celebrity, Hatsune Miku, namely how “her" “virtual” “voice” (themselves nebulous terms under reconstruction) are assembled in digital, analogue and electronic spaces. Miku’s voice, it will be argued, is the gathering point of a cluster of material, coded and human-non-human folds, shifting our notion of where the voice resides, who sings, and what vocal presence means. The paper unpicks the various strands that interweave in the constitution of Vocaloid voices: from the kinetic circulations of digitalized participatory cultures and corporate interests, to the constitutive power of the algorithm and the residual presence of flesh and blood voices. In Japan, an added twist is given to these forces by the distinct layers of tradition and modernity, visibility and invisibility, masking and unmasking, that play out in Japanese culture. Miku, it will be argued, is a particular kind of digital assemblage that is poised in a delicate state between absence and presence, a state of indeterminacy that is reflexively played upon by both Crypton Future Media and Vocaloid producers for the purposes of attachment and affect. While she is the ultimate post-modern singing machine who never sings out of tune, Miku is nevertheless staged as an imperfect idol whose lack of a logocentric core requires an inexhaustible labour of love.

June 08, 2017

Open Lecture: "The Forgotten Story: Japanese Women Who Studied in the United States, 1949-1966"

Presenter: Alisa Freedman (Associate Professor, University of Oregon)

Time: 17:00-19:00

Place: Faculty of Engineering Building 2 (工学部2号館), Room 93B.

Between 1949 and 1966, at least 4,713 Japanese students studied at American universities with the best-known fellowships at the time—GARIOA (Government Account for Relief in Occupied Areas (1949-1951) and Fulbright (established in 1952) —along with a few private scholarships. This group included 651 women. These young scholars who experienced the hardships of World War II in Japan were among the first people to travel abroad after. They epitomized the belief in education to improve international relations. They came after the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans and after women received the right to vote in Japan. At a time when the housewife was being solidified as a middle-class ideal, many of these women became professors, university chancellors, authors, and translators who shaped the American field of Japanese studies and Japanese field of American studies. Others became leaders in medicine, journalism, athletics, and other historically male-dominated professions. Yet their names have been omitted from histories of women and travel and from accounts of the formation of academic disciplines and jobs. Drawing upon personal interviews, memoirs, and university and institutional records, I examine how exchange students formed a bridge between the United States and Japan in the Cold War era and were forgotten but major force in women’s advancement.

April 27, 2017

Presenter: Michelle H. S. Ho (Ph.D. Candidate, Stony Brook University)

Time: 17:30-19:30
Location: Faculty of Engineering Building 2 (工学2号館), Room 93B

This talk explores the relationship between Japanese media culture and josō (male-to-female crossdressing) culture in Tokyo from the mid-2000s to present. Although stemming from older practices in Japanese history, josō culture has fractured and become increasingly commercialized and popular among individuals in their twenties and thirties in the last ten years. How does the Japanese media depict josō culture and individuals who practice josō? In turn, how do josōko (amateur crossdressers) understand their own practices and relate to other people? What connections can we make between crossdressing, consumption of popular media, such as anime, manga, and video games, and gender identity and sexual orientation? To investigate these questions, I examine representations of josō on television and draw on interviews with josōko and observations at josō-friendly social sites. I suggest that while individuals in josō are typically treated as a form of spectacle in the media—in a tradition similar to onē or okama (effeminate gay) entertainers—josōko often capitalize on such appearances to provide meaning for their own practices and interactions with fellow crossdressers.

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  •  For questions about applying to the ITASIA Program, please contact the ITASIA Admissions Office.

  • In general, I DO NOT accept privately funded non-degree international research students (私費外国人研究生); please apply instead to the ITASIA Program as a degree student.

  • I am only advising graduate students who intend to write their M.A. or Ph.D. thesis in English.

  • Please don't contact me about applying for a JSPS Fellowship; I will contact you.