Kathryn Hemmann

Kathryn Hemmann

Kathryn Hemmann

Assistant Professor

Japanese Studies: Japanese Literature and Popular Culture

Kathryn Hemmann is the author of numerous essays on Japanese fiction, graphic novels, and video games. Their book Manga Cultures and the Female Gaze (forthcoming from Palgrave in Summer 2020) argues that an awareness of female and queer writers and readers can transform our understanding of media that is often assumed to take a straight male audience for granted. Kathryn also runs the blog Contemporary Japanese Literature (japaneselit.net), which features reviews of fiction in translation and short articles on gender, society, and popular culture.


Current Research

Kathryn is currently studying Japanese console-based role playing games, including those in the Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Pokémon series. They are especially interested in readings that focus on environmental issues, such as attitudes toward the natural world, the politics of geography, and the ontological formation of the human, the inhuman, and the posthuman.

Selected Publications

Illusion, Reality, and Fearsome Femininity in Takashi Miike’s Audition
In Gender and Contemporary Horror in Comics, Games and Transmedia, edited by Steven Gerrard, Samantha Holland, and Robert Shail, 109-120. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Publishing, 2019.

I Coveted That Wind: Ganondorf, Buddhism, and Hyrule’s Apocalyptic Cycle
Games and Culture (August 2019): 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412019865847.

The Legends of Zelda: Fan Challenges to Dominant Video Game Narratives
In Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Injustice, edited by Kishonna L. Gray and David J. Leonard, 213-228. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018.

The Cute Shall Inherit the Earth: Postapocalyptic Posthumanity in Tokyo Jungle
In Introducing Japanese Popular Culture, edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade, 81-90. New York: Routledge, 2018.

Dangerous Women and Dangerous Stories: Gendered Narration in Kirino Natsuo’s Grotesque and Real World

In Rethinking Modern Japanese Feminisms, edited by Julia C. Bullock, Ayako Kano, and James Welker, 170-184. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2018.

The Precarity of the Housewife in Kirino Natsuo's "Rusted Hearts"
Japanese Language and Literature 52, No. 1 (April 2018): 201-240.

A Legend of Regret: Fallen Kingdoms and Postcolonial Ghosts in Twilight Princess
Proceedings of the Association of Japanese Literary Studies 18 (2017): 47-59.

Queering the Media Mix: The Female Gaze in Japanese Fan Comics
Transformative Works and Cultures 20 (2015). https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2015.0628.

Short Skirts and Superpowers: The Evolution of the Beautiful Fighting Girl
U.S.-Japan Women's Journal 47 (2014): 45-72.

Courses Taught

JAPA 240: Introduction to Japanese Culture
JAPA 310: Japanese Culture in a Global World
JAPA 340: Contemporary Japanese Fiction
JAPA 340: Demonic Women in Japanese Fiction
JAPA 340: Tokyo Stories in Contemporary Fiction
JAPA 340: Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy
JAPA 360: Introduction to Japanese Popular Culture
JAPA 360: Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies
JAPA 370: Video Games and Japan
JAPA 420: Animals and Nature in Japanese Culture
JAPA 440: Japanese for Reading Comprehension
JAPA 441: Conversational and Situational Japanese


BA, Emory University, 2006
MA, University of Pennsylvania, 2009
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2013

Recent Presentations

Revolutionary Girls: The Sparkling Transformation of Young Women's Comics in Japan
Thursday Nights at the Walters Lecture Series
June 2020, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

The Green Worlds of Studio Ghibli and The Legend of Zelda
Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies
April 2020, University of Notre Dame

The Gentle Inclusivity of Mental Illness in Kawakami Hiromi's "Summer Break"
Annual Meeting of the Society for Japanese Literary Studies
January 2020, Emory University

Link Is Not Silent: Disability Positivity in Fan Readings of Breath of the Wild
Annual Conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies
March 2019, Seattle

Strong Female Characters: Gender, Gaming, and Digital Cultures in Japan
Asian Studies Program Spring Lecture Series
April 2018, The University of Scranton

Linkle and the Female Gaze: Differences in the Reception of Female Character Design in American and Japanese Fan Communities
Annual Conference of the Association of Asian Studies
March 2018, Washington DC

The Next Big Thing: Charting Fan Cultures, Social Media, and the Content Industry in Japan
Annual Conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies
March 2018, Toronto

The Female Gaze in Anime and Manga
Lunchtime Speaker Series
March 2017, Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore

Postapocalyptic Political Fantasy in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Annual Conference of the Modern Language Association
January 2017, Philadelphia

In the Media

Outsider Stories in Contemporary Japanese Fiction
Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, May 2, 2018

Why Ganondorf Was Wrong in The Wind Waker
FemHype, February 18, 2017

Magic and Gender in Final Fantasy VI
Kill Screen, August 16, 2016

Japanese Environmentalism, Shinto, & The Legend of Zelda
FemHype, May 10, 2016