“Sunday Keynote Address: 16 Propositions on the Value of Anime Studies"

Marc Steinberg (Associate Professor of Film Studies in the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and Director of the Platform Lab, Concordia University, Montreal)
This keynote address takes up the invitation of the conference to think critically and reflexively about the contributions of anime studies, its dead ends, its transnational exchanges (and especially transpacific travels, interchanges, and disconnects), and its potentials moving forward. It does so by attending to a passage from Thomas Lamarre’s The Anime Machine, where he notes the purpose for the book is to track “what animation is, how it works, how it thinks—how it brings value into the world.” Instead of asking how anime brings value into the world, this talk will offer 16 propositions about how anime studies brings value into the world – and into the worlds of its cognate and non-cognate disciplines – as well as how it hinders this production of value. Given that value is by definition perspectival – value to whom, and why, and in what way – this talk will also include personal reflections on the emergence of anime studies as I have lived through it, as a graduate student then scholar based largely in North America. This will be part intellectual history, part personal account, and part provocation for anime studies’ futures – in the service of a map for some consequential intellectual adventures into the future, and for a better anime studies to come.

Bio: Marc Steinberg is the author of the award-winning books Anime's Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) and its expanded Japanese translation Why is Japan a "Media Mixing Nation"? (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 2015), which historically situate the practices of media franchising or the media mix. His second monograph, The Platform Economy: How Japan Transformed the Commercial Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), tracks the platform-led transformation of film, media, and Internet cultures. Offering a comparative study of platformization with a focus on Japan as the key site for global platformization, the book systematically examines the managerial, medial, and social impacts of platform theory and practice. He is the co-editor (with Alexander Zahlten) of Media Theory in Japan (Duke University Press, 2017), which traces the politics and parameters of media theorization in the Japanese context, as well as a special issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia on "Regional Platforms."