Round table "Manga as Literature, Manga as Reading"

Event ended

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities

 Research Centre for Contemporary Culture

April 15 2019, 16-00

Myasnitskaya 11, auditorium 508 

Special event: Manga as Literature, Manga as Reading


16.00 – 17.30

Guest lecture by Jaqueline Berndt (Professor of Japanese Language and Culture, Stockholm University) 

Manga as “Literature”: Seizing the Chance to Revise Established Concepts 


Manga continues to be a stronghold of graphic narratives, even under conditions of a media ecology that tends to facilitate non-narrative characters and other usages than modern reading. Research that is interested in aesthetics and texts has come to conceptualize manga as narrative media rather than visual culture, and it leans on tools derived from literary and film studies rather than art history. But in the attempt to get manga acknowledged as an academic subject, there is also an inclination to apply established, authoritative concepts to the new subject instead of seizing the chance to revise them. This lecture aims at revisiting our notion of literature, shaped as it has been by modern (European) culture, through the perspective of manga. In the main, three of the numerous manga adaptations of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment shall be analyzed, namely, the earliest one by Tezuka Osamu (1953), the shōjo manga version by female artist Ōshima Yumiko (1973), and Ochiai Naoyuki’s more recent 10-volume seinen manga series (2006-2011). They allow to consider manga’s historically changing relation to literature with regards to status and storytelling, and also particularities of literature in modern Japan. After all, until the late 1960s, Dostoyevsky’s later novels were read not necessarily as translated European but as modern Japanese literature — one critic even spoke of “Yamato Dostoyevsky” in that regard. At around the same time advanced literary critics highlighted the “death of the author,” the novel’s polyphony, and the empowering affective potential of commercial popular literature, although not yet related to a non-European culture like Japan. In recent years, the notion of literature has become geopolitically and regionally more diversified. However, studies on World Literature/s do still not include comics, genre fiction, or light novels. Against this backdrop, the lecture will use the Crime and Punishment examples to explore how manga can contribute to a broader notion of literature, in particular with respect to bounded or serial narratives, non/segmented audiences and public spheres, critical distance and affective immersion, paper-based and web-based reading, national and global literature. 

17.30 – 17.50. Pause 

17-50 – 19.00.  Round Table: Manga in Literary Contexts 

Yulia Magera (Senior Lecturer, Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies HSE). European Literature Aesthetics of the First Half of the 20th Century in Boy's Love Manga 

Natalia Samutina (Leading Researcher, Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities HSE). Difficulties of Becoming a Book: Culturally Legitimizing Manga in Contemporary Russia 

Yuliya Tarasyuk (Leading Librarian, Curator of Comics Library at the Izmailovskaya City Library, Saint Petersburg). Reading Shoujo manga in Russia: Adoration and Survival


The entrance is free. Everyone who is interested in the discussion on “manga as literature” is invited to participate in the round table and/or ask questions.

In order to get the pass to enter HSE, please write to Aleksandra Kolesnik in advance:

The language of the event is English, without translation.