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Gay Japan, Erotic Fiction and the Imperial Imagination

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Event Details:

Samuel Perry's talk explores several works of erotic fiction published in gay Japanese magazines in the 1970s, works which connect questions of imperial violence and its legacies to the experiences of gay men and to gay male sexuality. He is interested in broad questions about transnational sexuality—in so far as how Japanese gay culture emerges in relation to Western and other non-Western sexualities—but also in understanding how the legacies of WWII, specifically, conditioned the emergence of a new gay male subject in the new age of perpetual warfare. While many excellent transnational studies of Japanese gay fiction have examined how early “postwar” Japanese texts draw on the white bodies of US soldiers to construct Japanese gay sexualities, his paper turns to a later moment when Japan’s re-emergence into the Asian marketplace dilates a space in which Asian bodies begin to circulate within the currents of gay male desire, a space that is both problematic and critical for discussions of inter-Asian sexuality.

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About the speaker: 

Samuel Perry is an Associate Professor of East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Brown University. Professor Perry's teaching and research on Japanese and Korean literature seeks to understand the complex and often contradictory strategies by which marginalized people have contested dominant cultures. With an interest in the role culture plays in political change, he embraces a capacious understanding of literature and draw on a broad array of cultural sources, including genre fiction, reportage, memoirs and other ephemeral texts found in literary journals and activist newspapers. This allows him to ask a wide range of questions about the means by which activists mobilize social movements, the translation of justice and responsibility into cultural forms, and the ways in which ordinary people, communities, institutions and intellectuals tell their stories. In recent years his publications have focused on issues of colonialism and queerness in and between Japan and Korea.