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)
In this presentation, Nishimura explored the Japanese phenomenon of the keitai novel, a literary novel written exclusively from a specific type of mobile phone, described as an inexpensive Blackberry. Nishimura explained that these novels are written in short segments, counted by lines rather than pages. The keitai novel’s popularity is so immense that not only are they downloaded by a massive amount of readers, but some have also been adopted for print and have sold over two million copies in Japan. The keitai novel is often compared to blogging, but the difference lies in the genre—while blogs are most often non-fictional, the keitai novel is a combination of fiction with reality. As a linguist, Nishimura is interested in the linguistic differences between standard print novels, the keitai novel, and spoken word. Interestingly Nishimura showed that the keitai novel incorporated more written pauses (for example, “uh” and “um” in English) than the standard print novels, but less pauses than spoken word. She argued that the reasoning behind these pauses was the informality of the keitai text—in effect anyone with the proper technological access can publish a keitai novel.
Birmingham examined the events surrounding the anime music video (AMV) and its gendered implications. One of the most interesting aspects of the AMV is the amount of effort the fangirls place into ‘directing’ them before uploading them to sites like YouTube. These AMVs are homemade music videos, borrowing clips from anime programs and setting them to American pop music. AMVs were usually made to foster some love story that did not occur in the story itself. For example, if the fangirl wished that two of her favorite characters fall in love, the AMV would be the space that she could remix the actual plot and create an alternative story. To define fangirls, Birmingham borrowed Amanda Lenhard’s definition who describes them as “monstrous creatures [who] spam relentlessly, squandering bandwidth and making sites run slower than your granny on downers. Their weapon of choice is the crappy fanfic, typically written about a character they only like because he’s hot, even though he usually isn’t and just looks like a girl.” In the examples of AMVs Birmingham played during her presentation, she pointed out how closely the fangirls lined up the music with the clips, often seeming that the characters were actually singing the songs. But what was even more interesting was how frequently the characters in the AMVs appeared androgynous, causing confusion about what type of love relation the fangirls were creating.
Lewis opens her presentation by looking at the notion of speed culture and examines how the pressures from dominant structures, such as the College Board, shift emphasis on how effectively we use available clock time, particularly in writerly spaces. She states that, “American culture privileges speed sponsored literacies without explicit acknowledgement.” Further, she insists that the clock is suffused with the goals of the market, as it is always measured. On the other hand speed culture encourages one to look at the nature of writing since it is “kairotic and significant because it forces us to look at a different way of looking at literacy and how we act as authors.” Writing online in spaces like Facebook, Twitter, and Wikis is “suffused with the logic of the network” while at the same time is “subordinate to the nature of the clock.”