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Dr Forum Mithani

Dr Forum Mithani

Research Associate

School of Modern Languages

Email
mithanif1@cardiff.ac.uk
Campuses
66a Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS
Comment
Media commentator

Overview

I am a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Modern Languages, where I previously held the position of Lecturer in Japanese Studies. I was awarded a PhD from SOAS University of London in 2019 for my thesis on the representation of single motherhood in Japanese television drama.

My publications include The Handbook of Japanese Media and Popular Culture in Transition (co-edited with G. Kirsch, 2022, MHM). I am the author of 'Maternal Fantasies in an Era of Crisis – Single Mothers, Self-Sacrifice and Sexuality in Japanese Television Drama' in F. Portier-Le Cocq (ed), Motherhood in Contemporary International Perspective: Continuity and Change (2020, Routledge) and '(De)Constructing Nostalgic Myths of the Mother in Japanese Drama Woman' in Series 5 (winter 2019).

My research interests include Japanese media and popular culture, gender, motherhood, feminism and social minorities.

Biography

I am currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Modern Languages, Cardiff University. I also hold Research Associate status at the SOAS Japan Research Centre (London).

I previously taught at both SOAS, as a Sessional Tutor, and Cardiff, where I held the position of Lecturer in Japanese Studies.

I was awarded my PhD in Japanese Studies from SOAS in 2019. I also hold degrees from Westminster (MA Journalism Studies) and Leeds (BA Japanese Studies).

I have also spent extensive periods studying in Japan, at Kobe Gakuin University and Sophia University, where I was a Japanese Government (MEXT)-funded Research Scholar.

Prior to embarking on my PhD, I worked as a freelance journalist, copywriter and media analyst for 5 years.

Professional Memberships:

  • British Association for Japanese Studies
  • European Association for Japanese Studies
  • British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies

Publications

2022

2019

CURRENT PROJECT (2021-2024):

Representation and Allegory: Gendered Conceptions and Receptions of the Mother in Contemporary Japanese Culture

This 3-year, British Academy-funded project uses methods of feminist critical discourse analysis to examine representations of motherhood in Japanese literature, film and television drama. Grounded in the work of previous scholars of motherhood and feminist film studies, I pay particular attention to the work of female writers and their adaptations to investigate the role of gender in the production and reception of these images. The recent #MeToo movement has exposed the fracture in gender relations on a global level. In Japan, one of the most contested sites of gender discourse is the figure of the mother, which has functioned as an allegory for the nation’s anxieties, hopes and dreams. The maternal image cultivated during the twentieth century has largely been shaped by men, who have dominated cultural production, creating a nostalgic fantasy of the mother as selfless and undesiring. However, during the Heisei era (1989-2019), a period of significant social and demographic change caused in part by shifting conceptions of gender and family, women were writing their own mother-centred narratives. There has been little research on the symbolic value of these cultural representations and what they reveal about gender relations in contemporary Japan. This project will fill this gap with the first comprehensive study of the maternal image in literature, film and television drama.

PREVIOUS RESEARCH:

Reproducing and Challenging the Maternal Fantasy: Representations of Single Mothers in Japanese Television Drama, 2005-2014

My PhD research examined representations of single motherhood in Japanese television drama. While there have been numerous sociological studies of single motherhood in Japan, there had been no significant research on its cultural representation. Recognising that as a “technology” (De Lauretis, 1989), television drama has the power not only to reflect but also shape discourse, I sought to investigate the role representations of single mothers in this genre play in reproducing or challenging normative discourses of motherhood, family and gender. The project embraced an interdisciplinary perspective, utilising both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysing media, a rare approach in this field. I employed tools of critical discourse analysis within a framework of theories of gender, motherhood, media and class. I considered the roles of production, reception and intertextuality of media, situating my analysis within the wider socio-political context of contemporary Japan.

PUBLICATIONS:

BOOKS:

Mithani, F. and Kirsch, G. (eds.) 2022. Handbook of Japanese Media and Popular Culture in Transition. Tokyo: MHM.

ARTICLES / BOOK CHAPTERS

Mithani, F. 2022. Intersections of Difference: Sex, Gender and Disability in Japanese Visual Media. In: Mithani, F. and Kirsch, G. eds. Handbook of Japanese Media and Popular Culture in Transition. Tokyo: MHM, pp. 171-185.

Kirsch, G. and Mithani, F. 2022. Introduction. In: Mithani, F. and Kirsch, G. eds. Handbook of Japanese Media and Popular Culture in Transition. Tokyo: MHM, pp. xiii-xxvii.

Mithani, F. 2020. Maternal Fantasies in an Era of Crisis – Single Mothers, Self-Sacrifice and Sexuality in Japanese Television Drama. In: Portier-Le Cocq, F. ed. Motherhood in Contemporary International Perspective: Continuity and Change. Routledge Research in Gender and Society. First Edition. London ; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 177–190.

Mithani, F. 2019. (De)Constructing Nostalgic Myths of the Mother in Japanese Drama Woman. Series - International Journal of TV Serial Narratives Vol 5, pp. 71-82 Pages. doi: 10.6092/ISSN.2421-454X/9153.

Mithani, Forum. 2014. New Heroines for a New Era?: Single Mothers in Contemporary Japanese Television Drama. Acta Asiatica Varsoviensia. 27, pp. 111–129.

Supervision