Summer Program 2016 ANIMATING LIFE
The University of Tokyo
Keynote by Thomas Lamarre
Organized by Anne Allison
Supported by
Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation

Program Overview

The Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation Media-Content Research Project, in conjunction with the University of Tokyo, will host an annual Summer Program focusing on various aspects of Japanese popular media culture. The theme of this year’s Program is “Animating Life.” With Anne Allison as the main organizer, the Program invites 10 graduate students from universities around the world, who will collaborate with graduate students from the University of Tokyo. Our hope is that the participants will take advantage of the Program to build new social networks and pursue work related to Japanese media and popular cultures in the future, whether as researchers, artists, or teachers.

Animating Life explores limits of intimacy and forms of companionship creatively reorganized in today’s Japanese popular culture. Taking ‘animation’ and ‘life’ as key concepts, the Program examines how the popular cultural imagination animates – breathes life into – a variety of relationships people establish with human and nonhuman others. How do characters come to life? How do dogs come to talk? How do robots come to care? Building on the aesthetic of animation long cultivated in Japanese film, anime, and other expressive genres, we hope to expand the concept of animation to consider the enchantment of life in a wide range of practices and phenomena, including (but by no means limited to) virtual idol fandom, technology of care, gaming, anime pilgrimage, translation, digital sex, social media and political mobilization, and animal sociality. We seek to discern convergence, feedback, and crossing among diverse dimensions of animation. To that end, we welcome applicants interested in any facet of Japanese society where the concepts of ‘animation’ and ‘life’ may be productively mobilized for analysis. The range of topics and disciplinary backgrounds for consideration is wide open.

What kinds of encounters, with what kinds of others, in what iterations of intimacy and companionship, are coming to take the place of human-human sociality? How are human relations thereby being transformed? How are fans, creators, programmers, urban dwellers, protesters, and other social actors navigating what once constituted the terrain of the social through alternative, manufactured, virtual, commodified means? In order to rethink intimacy and companionship against the background of such globally circulating images of contemporary Japan as ‘relationless,’ ‘sexless,’ and ‘singlified’ -- images often uncritically linked to a pathology of sociality -- we turn to media contents and cultural practices, and to media technologies of various kinds, as a site of creative experimentation in the animation of life.

An intensive ten-day event, the Program takes place between July 4, 2016 and July 14, 2016. Thomas Lamarre (McGill University) will open the Program with his keynote lecture. Other lecturers tentatively include Elizabeth Povinelli (Columbia University), Shunya Yoshimi (University of Tokyo), Anne Allison (Duke University), Lawrence Grossberg (University of North Carolina), Yasuhiro Yamada (Chuo University), Shiho Satsuka (University of Toronto), Jason Danely (Oxford Brookes University), Sachiko Horiguchi (Temple University Japan), Paul Hansen (Hokkaido University), Grant Otsuki (Tsukuba University), Alexandra Hambleton (Bunkyo Gakuin University), Christophe Thouny (University of Tokyo), Ryo Morimoto (Harvard University), Patrick Galbraith (Duke University), and Shunsuke Nozawa (University of Tokyo). Lectures are combined with roundtables and breakout sessions to facilitate more informal dialogue among lecturers and participants. The Program also features experiential forays into Tokyo social life through field trips. The Program is open only to participating members, except for some selected events.

The Program will be conducted mainly in English. However, we expect participants to have sufficient Japanese proficiency to facilitate scholarly interaction and communication outside of the classroom. The program will accept 10 graduate students from universities around the world, who will collaborate with graduate students from the University of Tokyo.



Thomas Lamarre Keynote Speaker
McGill University
Elizabeth Povinelli
Columbia University
Lawrence Grossberg
University of North Carolina
Anne Allison Organizer
Duke University
Yoshimi Shunya
University of Tokyo
Jason Danely
Oxford Brookes University
Shiho Satsuka
University of Toronto
Masahiro Yamada
Chuo University
Sachiko Horiguchi
Temple University Japan
Paul Hansen
Hokkaido University
Alexandra Hambleton
Bunkyo Gakuin University
Grant Jun Otsuki
Tsukuba University
Christophe Thouny
University of Tokyo
Ryo Morimoto
Harvard University
Patrick W. Galbraith
Duke University
Shunsuke Nozawa
University of Tokyo

Dates: From July 4 to July 14, 2016

Program Highlights

  • Lectures Lectures will be conducted by leading scholars in the field of Japanese media and popular culture
  • Field events Experiential forays in Tokyo allow dynamic feedback between the city and the classroom
  • Collaborating and networking with scholars, students, and media practitioners from Japan and around the world.

Fees & Tuitions

  • The program has no tuition or registration fees.

Financial Support

  • We will be offering (1) financial support up to 100,000 yen for travel expenses and (2) a 23,000 subsidy for accommodations during the period of the Summer Program to all participants. Conditions for receiving financial support are:
        1 Participants must attend the entire Program and may not be absent from the Program without prior written consent from the program administration office
        2 When the travel expense is paid in a currency other than JPY, it will be converted to JPY at the exchange rate determined by the University of Tokyo. Reimbursement of airfare will be made only upon completion of the Program.
        3 Financial support may not be used for purposes other than Program participation. Reimbursement may be denied if expenses are judged to be extraneous to the Program.

Class Credit

  • The program is offered as an intensive class for 2 credits. (Credit is applicable to graduate students of the University of Tokyo only.)


  • The University of Tokyo, Hongo Campus

How to Apply

Application Deadline: March 10, 2016



Applicants are eligible if they are currently enrolled at an institution outside Japan in a Master’s or Ph.D. program, or have recently obtained a Master’s or Ph.D. in art, humanities, or the social sciences. Upper-level undergraduates, who intend to pursue graduate study in a related field in the future, are also welcome to apply

Application procedure

You are required to submit your application form by email. We will not accept applications sent through the mail, unless you are instructed to do so by the program administration office.

  • Please send your application form to the email address below.


Subject: “Application to the 2016 summer program”

If you have any questions, please e-mail to:


Matters to be noted when you prepare the application form.

I. General Matters

Please note that the mailing address should be the one at which you receive official documents from the school and any concerned ministries and/or agencies. If you have a different mailing address when you are out of town for a considerably long period, please indicate both addresses. Your email address must be the one that you use regularly. You are responsible for maintaining communication through this address.

Language level

Please indicate your language level in English and Japanese. The Program will be conducted mainly in English.
However, we expect you to have a certain level of Japanese proficiency (especially listening) to facilitate scholarly interaction and communication outside of the classroom.

II. Recommendation

  • A recommendation letter is NOT required at the time of application. However, you are required to confirm that the person you indicate in the online application form will write a recommendation letter on your behalf; confirm this with the person prior to submission. The person named in the application may be contacted directly by us during the selection process.

III. Resume/CV

Your resume/CV should include description of any work experience, responsibilities, projects, or publications relevant to the Program’s main theme. It should also briefly explain any courses you have taken or will take as well as prizes and awards that are relevant to the Program’s main theme. Please include your Resume/ CV directly in the Application Form.

IV. Cover Letter

Please include your Cover Letter directly in the Application Form. Your Cover Letter must be no longer than 500 words in English. Respond to the following prompts:

      1 Briefly, and concretely, contextualize your research in relation to the Program’s main theme. Explain the relevance of the concepts “animation” and “life” to your research: how are you using these and related concepts for your work, and how does your work contribute to a deeper understanding of them?
      2 At the end of your cover letter, indicate one or two keywords/concepts that most directly characterize your work, most deeply excite your thinking. Just keyword(s)/concept(s), no explanation.

V. Academic Record (Transcript)

Academic transcripts are NOT required at the time of application. However, when you are selected as a successful candidate, you must submit an academic record from each university that you have attended for one full academic year (two semesters, three quarters or trimesters) or more, regardless of the number of credits received.


Any discrepancy between the submitted materials by the applicant and the official record received after the selection process may result in the rejection of your application or withdrawal of our offer of admission.

Contact Us

We hope to see you in Tokyo.