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Boys' Love for the Love of it: Progressive prosumers and the proliferation of queer culture through Manga

Cavcic, Antonija (2017) Boys' Love for the Love of it: Progressive prosumers and the proliferation of queer culture through Manga. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Boys’ love (BL) manga (as a genre of Japanese comics) with either homoerotic or homosocial graphics and content, is largely produced by and for female readers. Much like the audacious women writers in Victorian Britain, these amateur female BL artists (dōjin) and their respective consumers in Japan have arguably empowered themselves as a subcultural community, as well as the represented LGBT community, through progressive and often radical means. Although much scholarly attention has focused on the readers’ gratifications and why BL has such a large female readership, little attention has been given to how, or the extent to which, the popularity of BL manga has potentially fostered LGBT visibility; or to the illustrators who have continued to independently publish such content at their own expense. Essenitally, I analyse the positive socio-economic effects and greater significance which lie in autonomous authorship, exclusive fan rituals, and their potential by-product of progression towards equality in terms of gender and sexuality. By comparing content, readership and fandom practices from the Victorian era and modern-day Japan, I demonstrate that the dissemination and consumption of cultural products which cater for and stem from a disempowered gender group may foster an explicitly queer space and its wider tolerance in the community. Determining if and how this phenomenon has fostered the empowerment of traditionally disenfranchised groups in Japan can provide insight into the subtle social and ideological shifts currently underway in Japan—shifts in which gender and sexuality are enmeshed, and occur in a contemporary context of an ageing population which is clinging onto the security found in traditions and conventions, albeit while adapting to the effects of globalisation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
United Nations SDGs: Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Supervisor(s): Broderick, Mick and Stickland, Leonie
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