A Future of Comparative Film Studies
ABSTRACT Paul Willemen proposes the concept of comparative film studies as an immanent critique of film studies as an academic discipline, for the development of which the US has played a central role. Is comparative film studies equally relevant for film scholars working outside Euro-American academia? To what extent can the idea of comparative film studies play the similarly critical function in the non-Euro-American context? This essay is an attempt to answer these questions not necessarily by closely explicating what Willemen means by comparative film studies but by re-interpreting or even “misreading” this concept while at the same time trying to remain faithful to the radical spirit of his argument. Using the state of film scholarship in Japan as an example, the essay explores various implications of comparative film studies for academics situated in the place where the discipline of film studies is not firmly established. It particularly focuses on the connections between the global hegemony of US-centered film studies and the significance of English as a privileged medium of scholarly output, and then speculates on how the subversion of this hegemony can be articulated to the re-interpreted notion of comparative film studies.
Keywords film studies; national cinema; world cinema; discipline; university; globalization
Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto is Professor of Media Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo. He is the author of Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema (Duke University Press, 2000) and Empire of Images and the End of Cinema (Tokyo: Ibunsha, 2007). He co-authored with Masao Miyoshi Site of Resistance (Kyoto: Rakuhoku Shuppan, 2007), and also co-edited Television, Japan, and Globalization (Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan) with Eva Tsai and Jung-bong Choi. His most recent book is titled Spectacle of Conspiracy, which was published in early 2012 (Tokyo: Ibunsha).