Session D1: Ubiquitous Mobile Devices, Novels, and Fangirls
Yukiko Nishimura (Toyo Gakuen University, Japan)
Elizabeth Birmingham (North Dakota State University)
Lynn C. Lewis (University of Oklahoma)
I think the first presenter in this panel traveled the farthest distance to be a part of this conference. Hailing from Tokyo Gakuen University in Japan, Yukiko Nishimura gave a fascinating paper looking the Japanese sensation of keitai novels. In her paper “Japanese Mobile Phone Novels: Impact of Ubiquitous Mobile Computers Among Youth in Japan”, Nishimura introduced the audience members to both the keitai, a mobile computer devise found in Japan and akin to a cheap Blackberry, and to the novels being written, uploaded and shared on the keitai by immature females novelists in their upper teens/early 20s. Being interested in how the Japanese language is used in digital environments, Nishimura conducted a detailed linguistic analysis of several of these novels in an effort to see how they compared with more traditional print novels, and to explore what impact these keitai novels might have on student literacy. She discovered that these novels are a new style of fiction that fall on the linguistic spectrum somewhere between print novels and speech; and that whereas they do encourage and enhance fictional writing, they do little to develop a student’s mastery of other kinds of writing, for example research papers. Nishimura’s concludes that these Kaitai novels are a place where the ideology of literacy can be examined and challenged.
Elizabeth Birmingham from North Dakota State University also looked at Japanese cultural products, specifically Anime, and examined what American teens do with this product. In her paper “Bringing Smexy Back: AMV’s, Transgressive Sexuality, and Fangirl Identity,” Birmingham examined the Anime music videos (AMVs) created by fangirls based on the manga series Full Metal Alchemist, and then posted on Youtube. According to Birmingham, Full Metal Alchemist primarily deals with stories centered around action fighting between male characters and with no major female characters. The AMVs created by fangirls are technically sophisticated visual texts that remix show clips, fan art and shots of manga drawings to depict male on male love stories. Birmingham states that the patriarchy of the original manga series leaves little room for girls to relate to or associate themselves with the stories, and that these AMVs are not so much about questioning heteronormativity, but rather a way for girls to engage with and write themselves into the text.
Moving away from focus on Japanese culture of the first two papers, but still dealing with the question of literacy in a digital age, Lynn C. Lewis from the University of Okalahoma delivered a paper called “The Faster We Go, the Things We Carry: Considering Literacy in the Age of Speed.” Lewis identifies two competing literacies that adhere to what she calls our “speed culture,” and argues that these represent the literacies our students carry with them in into the classrooms. The first literacy, an example of which is writing done in advanced placement testing, is based on what Lewis identifies as the logic of the market, which privileges writers who can read and write quickly; where writing is judged effective if done within a given time; and where the writer’s agency is deemed less important than then meeting the demands of the time writing situation. The second literacy is based on the logic of the network, exemplified best by the web based writing, and is characterized by writing that is audience directed, interactive and where the writer determines who may read what she writes. Lewis concedes that this binary is somewhat artificial, and that there is writing that falls between these two logics; however, creating these categories can help us tease out and explore the elements and implications of both.