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Food, Humans and Other Kinds of Matter: A Posthumanist and Materialist Reading of the Anime Film Spirited Away
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, The Department of Gender Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

My aim with this thesis is to use a combination of posthumanist and feminist materialist perspectives in analysing the anime film Spirited Away (2001).

The analysis is organised as follows: the first chapter of the analysis deals with the notions of agency and magic. Magic is an omnipresent force in the bathhouse depicted in the film; a force that creates connections between different bodies and that also bridges the language-matter divide. By making inanimate matter come alive, magic points to a conception of life as relations rather than as possession. However, magic also reveals the hierarchies at work, as not all animate(d) beings have the capacity or the right to use it.

The first chapter is followed by three chapters focused on eating, understood as a kind of intra-action between different kinds of matter. Food is, as I will show, important in the negotiations of boundaries and agency. The question of who is eating who also reveals some of the power relationships that govern the posthuman world depicted in the film.

In the two last chapters of the analysis I will, so to speak, push the food plate aside in favour of other matters. The fifth chapter will focus on the physical transformations taking place in the film and how these can be interpreted from a posthumanist and materialist perspective. I will look at embodiments, using a narratologically influenced perspective that allows for corporeal ambiguities and shuns notions of bodies as fixed and clearly separate from other bodies. The discussion will continue in the final chapter where I use 'monster theory' to further examine the leakages between categories. The monstrous corresponds not necessarily to widely-spread images of monsters (known from various cultural masterplots) or to bodies that distinctly disobey the norms. The morphological diversity exhibited by the characters in the film reveals the impossibility of clearly demarcating categories and boundaries between Self and Other.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 33 p.
Keyword [en]
posthumanism, materialism, Spirited Away, Miyazaki, magic, eating, agency, transformations, monster theory
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-97298ISRN: LIU-TEMA G/GSIC-A—13/001—SEOAI: diva2:656733
Subject / course
Gender Studies - Intersectionality and Change, One Year
2013-09-02, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2013-11-11 Created: 2013-09-07 Last updated: 2013-11-11Bibliographically approved

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The Department of Gender StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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