Japanese Contemporary Popular Culture: Media Practices in a Global Context

Course Type: Seminar
Study Focus: VMC
Term: Spring

Teacher: Björn-Ole KAMM
Course Code: JK05001

The focus of this practice-oriented and interactive seminar lies on theoretical concepts and analytical techniques useful to engage transculturality in the cross-disciplinary research fields of visual, material and media culture.


Japanese popular media practices play not only in Japan a major role in the everyday lives of many people. The course investigates various elements of this popular and consumer culture, such as manga, anime, or games, from a transcultural perspective.

The course revisits key readings for a transcultural approach dealing with visual practices, such as cosplay, and media content, for example, cultural representations of nationality or gender. A second point of departure is formed by questions of production, reception and appropriation by users in and outside Japan. The theoretical input forms the basis for practical exercises in applying these methodologies to concrete cases.

The course primarily addresses JDTS students of the VMC focus in their first semester but welcomes also students in their second year that are about to define their MA thesis topic. The course requires students to actively participate, do regular written homework and occasionally work in teams. It does not include a written term paper, but several written short pieces and a project report instead.

Course Information

Module: Introduction to Transcultural Studies
CATS Requirements: BA 3rd. year or above
Link to course material on PandA.

Day/Period: Tue/3
Location: online
Credits: 2

Course Goals

The course seeks to establish an understanding not only of theories of transculturality, entertainment and user agency but of various angles of research methodology useful for the study of visual and media practices. Students will exercise to apply key methodologies to contemporary cases studies, such as cyber-ethnography of fans, qualitative visual and textual analysis of manga, or the analysis of discourses surrounding the physical embodiment of fictional characters. The aim of the course is to assist students in taking the leap to a position of knowledge-production and thus focuses on practical exercises and training in academic presentation skills.

Course Schedule and Evaluation

For a detailed course schedule, please visit KULASIS or the PandA platform.

The course involves weekly reading and writing assignments as well as fieldwork (students will collect and analyze qualitative data as part of a shared research project). The students will present their project results via posters at the end of the course.