Cyberpunk in a Trans-chronological Context: from The Difference Engine to The Empire of Corpses

Event time: 
Wednesday, November 8, 2023 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Rosenkranz Hall (RKZ ), 005 See map
115 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

When William Gibson and Bruce Sterling published their collaboration The Difference Engine in 1990, it was very natural for the proper readers of science fiction to consider it as the magnum opus achieved by each writer at that point. However, once it was out in 1990, the general fans of cyberpunk in Japan, who had expected Gibson and Sterling to keep demonstrating the cutting-edge of internet computer culture, seemed more or less disappointed by their collaboration. The Japanese readers tended to neglect the significance of the trans-Pacific imagination in this alternate historical novel; when journalist Lawrence Oliphant and paleontologist Edward Mallory were introduced to the Japanese intellectuals headed by Fukuzawa Yukichi, the founder of modern Japan and Keio University, in the service of “His Imperial Majesty the Mikado of Japan,” they were astonished at a Japanese gynoid crafted by sons of Hosokawa family and presented to them as a royal gift for Her Britannic Majesty. Reconsidering the role of Fukuzawa in the novel, this lecture tries to redefine modern Japan itself as a Frankensteinian monster.

Takayuki Tatsumi (1955-) is Professor Emeritus of Keio University, Tokyo, Japan and headmaster of Keio Academy of New York (2022-). Since he received Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1987, Tatsumi has long taught American Literary History and Critical Theory at Keio University and other institutions. He served as president of the American Literature Society of Japan (2014-2017), president of the Poe Society of Japan (2009-2020) and vice president of the Melville Society of Japan (2012-).

His major books include: New Americanist Poetics (Seidosha, 1995, the winner of the 1995 Fukuzawa Yukichi Award), Full Metal Apache: Transactions between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant-Pop America (Duke UP, 2006, the winner of the 2010 IAFA [International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts] Distinguished Scholarship Award) and Young Americans in Literature: The Post-Romantic Turn in the Age of Poe, Hawthorne and Melville (Sairyusha, 2018). Co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Transnational American Studies (Routledge, 2019), he has also published a variety of essays in PMLA, Critique, Extrapolation, American Book Review, Mechademia, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature and elsewhere on subjects ranging from the American Renaissance to post-cyberpunk fiction and film. For more detail, visit the following URL:…

Takayuki Tatsumi - Professor Emeritus, Keio University; Headmaster, Keio Academy of New York