Image of a woman sitting on a chair concealing a man inside from Japanese film "Horrors of Malformed Men"


Date(s) - Thu. Jan. 28, 2021
7:30 pm PST - 8:45 pm PST

Seth Jacobowitz

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Edogawa Rampo (1894 – 1965) burst onto the literary scene in 1920s Japan with a rapid succession of short stories and novels that not only inaugurated a new genre of homegrown Asian detective fiction, but also helped to articulate the cultural logic of “erotic, grotesque, nonsense” (ero-guro-nansensu) in the interwar period. At a time when new forms of mass media, mass culture, and the avant-garde were ascendant, Rampo earned instant notoriety for his startling explorations of Japanese modernity: the lure of secret codes, fetishes, and illicit or prohibited desires; a fascination with cinema and visual spectacles; the psychology of leisure, boredom, and thrill-seeking; and a seemingly inexhaustible wanderlust for the labyrinthine back alleys and boulevards of the imperial metropolis Tokyo.

This presentation will discuss scopophilia and claustrophilia as two predominant horror themes in Rampo’s fiction writing and their adaptation in the Japanese film and art worlds. Jacobowitz argues that he used these drives for visual pleasure and a love of coffin-like, enclosed spaces to achieve something closer to what his contemporaries, the Surrealists, regarded as a bridge between reality and imagination toward a more pure expression of the unconscious mind. We will explore his “Stalker in the Attic” (1926) and the film The Watcher in the Attic (1976) directed by Noboru Tanaka, the omnibus film Rampo Noir (2005), and Suehiro Maruo’s graphic novel The Strange Tale of Panorama Island (2010), among other works.

Please note these are live events – they cannot be downloaded and watched later, so please be sure you are available at the time and timezone the classes are being offered in before registering.