I spent most of the past two weeks preparing for and then beginning the spring semester, but I managed to get a few other things taken care of in the meantime.
– I finalized all the images for my book! There’s no need to go into the details of what this entailed, but it was a lot of work. This was the last thing that needed to be done before the manuscript enters production, so the press was finally able to make the cover public and post a promotional flyer.
– I submitted a review of Rachael Hutchinson’s monograph Japanese Culture Through Videogames to Pacific Affairs. It’s an amazing book. I read it twice (and certain chapters three times), and I have to admit that I teared up in places because it’s so brilliantly written. As an aside, I was honored to introduce Rachael to the work of auronlu, who’s cited frequently in the chapters about Final Fantasy. Rachael is at the top of her game, and it’s so cool to see fan scholarship acknowledged by such a respected and influential academic.
– I wrote support letters for the visa applications of Naotaro Moriyama and White Out Tokyo, who are going to be performing at the opening ceremony of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. I’m usually such a “please do not make generalizations about Japan” sort of person, but these letters required “an expert” to comment on “the cultural uniqueness” of the visa applicants, and I had a lot of fun leaning into that sort of discourse. There were ancient artistic traditions and cherry blossoms everywhere, it was kind of incredible. I wrote both letters in collaboration with a friendly acquaintance at the Japan Foundation, and I learned a lot from working with him.
– I presented my paper on Hiromi Kawakami’s short story “Summer Break” at the Association for Japanese Literary Studies conference. I ended up almost completely rewriting certain sections of the paper on the night before my presentation, but I think it turned out okay. The AJLS is consistently excellent, and this year was no exception. I think I’ve finally gotten to the point in my career where I can actually appreciate and enjoy academic conferences without feeling like an imposter and a nervous wreck, and I got a lot out of this conference in particular.
– I met Peter Balestrieri, a librarian at the University of Iowa, at the Fan Studies Network conference in Chicago last fall. He gave a talk about the university’s collection of fanzines and other fandom-related materials; and, when I got a chance to talk to him one-on-one, he mentioned that the University of Iowa library is accepting donations. After getting in touch with Peter again, I sent him two huge boxes of fanzines. This is material that I compiled for my own research, and it would make me happy if it were accessible to other people.
– I was invited to participate in a panel about religion in the Legend of Zelda series at PAX East. I’ve already got a full schedule of travel and speaking engagements planned for the next few months, so I had to turn down the invitation, but I got to have a nice conversation on Twitter with the person organizing the panel. I hope I can make it to Boston next year!