Laura Miller Lecture

26 March 2020

General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

*Unfortunately due to travel restrictions, this public lecture has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule it later in the year.

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Historically Hot: Reimagining Beauty from Japan's Past

A public lecture by Laura Miller, Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Endowed Professor of Japanese Studies and Professor of History, University of Missouri–St. Louis and 2020 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

Who was considered to be a beautiful man or a gorgeous woman in Japan's ancient period? What did an attractive Edo samurai or courtesan look like? When contemporary popular culture producers set out to create manga, anime, film and TV series set in historical eras, they often find that the beauty standards of long ago are quite different from contemporary reader and viewer standards. Rather than try to represent historically accurate appearance, artists and writers meld some aspects of historic fashion with recent ideals for body and facial types.

This presentation will feature several reimagined historical figures who are represented by actors, cosplayers, or drawn characters who reflect today's beauty ideology rather than those of the periods they are portraying. Although some efforts are made to depict the costumes and hairstyles of the period, the desire to cater to current beauty norms dominates these productions.

Laura Miller is an internationally prominent scholar of Japan studies and linguistic anthropology, as well as of the body and feminism, girl culture, mysticism and divination in Japan. After graduation from the University of California, Santa Barbara with BA degrees in Anthropology and Asian Studies, she supervised an English language program for a Japanese company in Osaka (1977-1981). She received her PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1988.

Miller has published more than seventy articles and book chapters on Japanese culture and language. She is the author of Beauty Up: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics (University of California Press, 2006). She co-edited Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan (with Freedman and Yano, Stanford University Press, 2013), Manners and Mischief: Gender, Power, and Etiquette in Japan (with Bardsley, University of California Press, 2011), and Bad Girls of Japan (with Bardsley, Palgrave 2005). Diva Nation: Female Icons from Japanese Cultural History, (co-edited with Rebecca Copeland, University of California Press, 2018.)