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Japan Conference

I'm just back from the ISRCL conference in Kyoto, and having finally cleared my inbox I can post about it!

There was a reasonable amount on science and technology. As always, Mel Gibson's paper on girls and comics was a blast, I especially was interested in her discussion of the 'investigative gaze' of Supergirl's ability to see through walls (which, Gibson argued, she'd be subsequently punished for using). Susan Napier gave a fantastic lecture on anime, which included some discussion of attitudes to technology in Japanese culture. The Dystopia session (characteristically) covered a lot of science issues, from Farah Mendlesohn's paper on allegory to Kay Sambell's fascinating discussion of bodies in Bloodsong (abstracts here, note links to PDF). Also, the eco-criticism strand my paper was in, included Liz Parson's paper comparing Fern Gully and Princess Mononoke, which drew out some of the class issues around Nature/ Culture questions these films address (abstracts here, note links to PDF).

For me, however, about the most interesting thing was learning about Japanese publishing and animation culture, especially picture books. There were loads of papers on the topic, but the conference also had an exhibition of picture books, including a whole table entitled 'science and poetry'. Below are some shots of some books I felt were particularly interesting in terms of a mix of dreamlike picture book style with scientific exposition.

Coral book Coral - inside (image/ text)

Coral - inside (text) Strawberry book

Dandelion book (cover) Dandelion book (inside 1)

Dandelion book (roots) Dandelion book (inside 2)

Click on the images to see bigger versions, and to go to my children's science literature Flickr set, where you can see a few more of the pictures I took. I'll do another post or three next week looking at some other books which were particularly interesting in their construction (and the Tokyo science museums were pretty interesting too...).


Those are amazing photos Alice! I've just received a japanese children's book from a friend of mine, as it happens (odd coincidence) and it reminds me a lot of these, even though its actually fiction. beautiful. Did you bring any back with you?
I'd also be interested to hear how the culture of animation affects complex or highly illustrated book design. Look forward to reading your follow-up posts on the topic.