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Indiana University

Programs & Events

Monsters & the Monstrous

"The Ghost of Kohada Koheiji" illustration in which A skull peers out from around a curtain.


Spring 2008 Workshop: Monsters and the Monstrous in Modern Japanese History and Culture

This workshop provided a forum for thinking deeply about what these category-defying creatures tell us not only about changes in the cultural imaginary and global marketplace, but also about the agility of human imagination. It was directed by Michiko Suzuki, assistant professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and took place March 21-22, 2008. Schedule (PDF).

Although the presenters approached a wide range of topics from a variety of theoretical perspectives, the confluence of critical themes (modernity, translation, media, and the way we define and “make” monsters) provided a satisfying sense of unity. The workshop was divided into three sessions:

  • Monsters of modernity
  • Media, history, and cool, which examined monsters in popular culture
  • The big, the small, and the in-between
Spring 2007 Workshop: Monsters and the Monstrous in Premodern Japanese History and Culture

This workshop, directed by Professor Thomas Keirstead, was held March 30-31, 2007, and brought nine scholars of Japanese culture to Bloomington for two days of presentations and discussion. Schedule (PDF).

The presenters represented a wide range of specialties, from religious studies to literature and history. Although most of the papers dealt with the premodern period, the workshop as a whole addressed issues of concern to scholars working in all areas of Japanese culture and focused on three major thematic areas:

  • The place of powerful women in Japanese cultural discourse
  • Demon-slaying and the powers claimed by religious discourse over monsters and the monstrous
  • The question of monsters in popular culture