My name is Kathryn Hemmann, and I’m a Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, where I study Japanese fiction, graphic novels, and video games.

I earned my BA from Emory University in 2006. My senior thesis, Demonic Women in Modern Japanese Literature, examined the connections between gender and horror in works ranging from the short literary fiction of Yumiko Kurahashi to Kōji Suzuki’s popular thriller Ring. Since then, I have continued to write and present papers on social and gender issues in Japanese fiction, film, animation, graphic novels, and video games.

I received a PhD in 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania, where my graduate research centered around Japanese fiction and graphic novels written during the 1990s and 2000s. My dissertation, The Female Gaze in Contemporary Japanese Literature, focuses on the work of the bestselling novelist Natsuo Kirino and a prolific four-woman artistic team called CLAMP. I investigate how these writers and artists negotiate highly gendered realms of narrative discourse in their work. My ultimate goal is to argue for the application of a female gaze to narratives and tropes that have generally been understood as taking a male audience for granted. This study led to my first book, Manga Cultures and the Female Gaze, which is available from Palgrave.

My work on digital media and fan reception has led to an interest in console-based video games, and my current research involves a comparative analysis of these texts that examines their themes, narrative structures, and underlying ideologies as they’re expressed through in-game text, gameplay, and extratextual promotional materials. I’m especially interested in readings that focus on environmental issues, such as attitudes regarding the natural world, the politics of geography, and the ontological formation of the human, the inhuman, and the posthuman. I’m currently focusing on the titles in the Legend of Zelda series, as well as the online communities devoted to these games, and I’m working on a book-length treatment of The Wind Waker.

The best way to contact me is via email, at khemmann@gmail.com. I’m also active on Twitter as @kathrynthehuman.

( The portrait above is by Sara Goetter )