Prof. Bai invited me to come talk about manga to her East Asian Media undergraduate class (in the Media, Culture, and Communication department at NYU Steinhardt) this past Monday. I haven't run an undergraduate class since 2002 when I was the Writing Across Cultures mentor, so it's been awhile, and I worry that I came across as a little bit frazzled. It was also quite challenging to prepare anything in advance since I didn't know what the students' level of prior knowledge was, and I didn't want to do anything pathetically basic. Not to mention that I was lecturing in the very same classroom where I myself attend a graduate level class this semester! (The irony.)
In any case, I ended up preparing a perhaps too high-level discussion about the shounen ai, BL, lolicon, and moé genres--and making a larger point about how genres are not stable textual categories and that changes in the production and/or reception context can cause genre boundaries to shift. That ate up about 30 minutes or so; the rest of the time, I fielded questions from students and Prof. Bai in long-winded, rambling fashion--everything from why manga characters look "Western," to Japanese perceptions of homosexuality, to the structure of both the professional and amateur manga industries--until the good professor cut me off. Alas, I don't think it was my finest hour, but at least I managed to come across as sufficiently "expert" to justify my presence there. Is my future on the manga-lecturing circuit suddenly looking brighter? Ha, ha. Doubtful.
Hey, if anyone in the class stumbles upon this blog entry, leave a comment and tell me what you thought! (Be as brutal as you want. Trust me...I can take it.)