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INTEREST: University Professor Uses Bakemonogatari in Japanese Literature Class


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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 435
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:20 pm Reply with quote
Most light novels? No, probably not. NisiOIsin? Yes, absolutely. It's not the format that matters, it's how you use it.
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:35 pm Reply with quote
Monogatari, yeah that doesn't seem bad. SAO.... No No No.
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relyat08



Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 4125
Location: Northern Virginia
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:57 pm Reply with quote
Depending on how it's utilized, I can see even SAO being a good teaching example. If you have your students analyze it enough, you will easily be able to see what makes it popular, and also how it falls apart as a work of literature. I just hope they analyze the actual writing, not just the themes.

But yes, Nisioisin is a legitimate author and his works should be looked at critically in classes. Narita's stuff as well. Absolutely.
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7jaws7



Joined: 17 Aug 2013
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Location: New York State
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:58 pm Reply with quote
I'm happy Bakemonogatari is helping to break stereotypes. The Tatami Galaxy is also a must if we're going there.
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Vee-Tee



Joined: 12 Aug 2015
Posts: 67
Location: UK
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:32 pm Reply with quote
My BA is in English Literature, and yeah, it sucks that people still get hung up on what's "literature" and what's not. Some award-winning novel that's often dull as dishwater can be "literary", sure (by our definitions), but that doesn't mean that genre fiction isn't "literature." My university was one of the few in the western world that does modules on the perception of crime fiction over time, and how it's *still* looked down upon simply for being marketed towards older women or whatever.

But... idk about light novels. (Though yeah, NisiOisin is consistently very good.) I've only ever read English fan translations of them, and for a huge amount of them, they always seem to be written in a very basic way, almost reminiscent of a screenplay partially translated into a novel format. I'm glad the light novel is getting some respect, even though they're not to my taste! Smile
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Usagi-kun



Joined: 03 Jul 2013
Posts: 877
Location: Nashville, TN
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:04 pm Reply with quote
I like this idea too, as long as it remains subjective on a teacher-by teacher basis. The term 'literature', at least in my school years, can seem so stuffy and rigid. I hope his students enjoy the class. NisiOisin rhetoric should be very entertaining.
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Renasviel



Joined: 24 Oct 2015
Posts: 143
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:14 pm Reply with quote
Are light novels literature? Of course they are. By definition. I don't care for the intellectual snobbery, they are literature. Now, you can argue most of them are not good examples of literature, but I'd wager most novels in general fit this as well. There are titles that have a meaningful message to tell, and that's enough to make the medium worthwhile as a form of literature.
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Heishi



Joined: 06 Mar 2016
Posts: 1113
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:14 pm Reply with quote
Yes, let's just use SAO as a way to teach people how bad it is.


What great education.
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LetsEatRamen



Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 30
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:15 pm Reply with quote
LNs really should be considered literature if books = literature, but whether SAO can be considered worth studying is questionable. As a Monogatari junkie, Monogatari is an absolute yes, but the quality of SAO's writing brings a lot into question... Confused
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ScumbagYoshi



Joined: 30 Apr 2013
Posts: 140
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:24 pm Reply with quote
This is a university in the middle of nowhere with a Wikipedia page that isn't even filled out, so I find it hard to believe that this is going to emerge as a trend any time soon (thank goodness). In addition, I think any literature class in Japan with any notion self-respect would be teaching the likes of Soseki, Ogai, Dazai, Tanizaki, Kawabata, Mishima, Abe, Endo, and Oe long before they teach anyone on the merits of light novels, because the Japanese literary tradition is rich and deep enough to not have to dig into the pockets of light novelists for literary material.

Secondly there's this misguided notion that a book is automatically literature. In one particular definition of literature as merely just the repository of all written material, then yes they are correct, but the study of literature in the academic sense of the term is far from the notion that all books are considered literature. There was a poster above talking about genre fiction and while I agree that the lines are blurred as well as used to perpetuate academic snobbery, there is no question that the "literaryness" of something still exists as a concept and we should not so easily discredit that in favor of just calling whatever we want to be "literature."

Third, just because something is not "literary" doesn't mean it's not good. There are tons of fantastic science fiction or fantasy novels that are some of my favorite, but whether they are literary is another question entirely. Dan Simmon's Hyperion is one of my favorite novels, but I would never say it is literary. The aspect of being literary does not govern whether one thing is better than another, but rather identifies what novel aspires to be literary and what novel does not. Saying Woolf is literary does not preclude someone from saying they think Lord of the Rings is better than Mrs. Dalloway, but for some reason people falsely assume this notion.

At the end of the day, I think this idea is rubbish. I have no idea what the syllabus of the class is like, so I cannot fully judge, but trying to judge contemporary Japanese literary practices, culture, and society based on Nisio Isin rather than Oe, Murakami, Yoshimoto, and others seems like such a terrible choice both practically and academically. I guess one could feasibly argue that pop and niche culture is necessary to understanding the contemporary Japanese experience, but at that point, the topic of light novels should be relegated to an elective class and not a broad seminar on Japanese literature when a seminar should already be stretched thin with how many fantastic Japanese authors there are.

Edit: After briefly doing a little more research, and I found that the class in question in 2014 only had one text, which was the first and second volumes of Sword Art Online, and featured a total of 16 lectures solely on SAO. I think the silliness of this class thus speaks for itself.
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Arale Kurashiki



Joined: 24 Aug 2015
Posts: 629
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:35 pm Reply with quote
(not a response or challenge to anybody in particular, just my thoughts)

The thing about defining something as "real literature" or not is that something holding meaning or value is entirely subjective. You can't rate expression on an objective scale. You or I may find Sword Art Online to be total garbage, and we could probably explain exactly why, but there's absolutely nothing stopping somebody from analyzing it and finding some deep themes that resonate with them. Unlikely? Sure, and you or I would probably also disagree, but that doesn't really change how this other person experienced the book.
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Angel Investor



Joined: 13 Nov 2010
Posts: 106
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:18 pm Reply with quote
While I am a fan of NisioIsin's work (the ending of Kizumonogatari had me in tears), I don't really like the idea of using his Monogatari series as teaching material. Anyone who has read the novels or watched the anime adaptations knows that the series is full of quite risque fanservice aimed at a male audience. I know it's all done tongue-in-cheek, but I think some female students may find it either offensive or boring. It's almost like making straight guys read BL novels. It doesn't work because they're not the target audience.

I think something more gender-neutral would be more appropriate and fair for everyone.

PS. I'm speaking hypothetically. I have no idea how many females actually enjoy the Monogatari series, nor am I trying to start any sort of stupid gender-war here.
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relyat08



Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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Location: Northern Virginia
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:44 pm Reply with quote
Angel Investor wrote:
While I am a fan of NisioIsin's work (the ending of Kizumonogatari had me in tears), I don't really like the idea of using his Monogatari series as teaching material. Anyone who has read the novels or watched the anime adaptations knows that the series is full of quite risque fanservice aimed at a male audience. I know it's all done tongue-in-cheek, but I think some female students may find it either offensive or boring. It's almost like making straight guys read BL novels. It doesn't work because they're not the target audience.

I think something more gender-neutral would be more appropriate and fair for everyone.

PS. I'm speaking hypothetically. I have no idea how many females actually enjoy the Monogatari series, nor am I trying to start any sort of stupid gender-war here.


I know of many women who actually enjoy the Monogatari series a LOT. Talk to Victoria Holden(aka Sailor Bee) about the Monogatari series and she'll run you through everything that makes the show appealing to women. Including how most of the women in the show receive extensive character development.
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Michael Nathanael T.



Joined: 20 Jun 2013
Posts: 254
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:29 am Reply with quote
LetsEatRamen wrote:
LNs really should be considered literature if books = literature, but whether SAO can be considered worth studying is questionable. As a Monogatari junkie, Monogatari is an absolute yes, but the quality of SAO's writing brings a lot into question... Confused


Well, please think about it more, this Mr. Hirose is a professor and to be a professor he MUST study about literature first and get the Doctoral or Professor Degree. And in my opinion, this person has much better knowledge about literature than you (because he is a literature subject's professor). It is hard to have a different opinion than someone with better knowledge. Thank you.
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Michael Nathanael T.



Joined: 20 Jun 2013
Posts: 254
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:32 am Reply with quote
Heishi wrote:
Yes, let's just use SAO as a way to teach people how bad it is.


What great education.


Well I think it is not like that. Mr Hirose is a professor (of course with Professor Degree in literature) and I also think he has much better knowledge than you if the topic is literature. Thank you.
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