“Oh, Hell! The Horrible and the Hilarious in Secular Japanese Picturebooks” by Heather Blair (Indiana University)
Date: 3:30pm PDT October 29, 2015 Location: Miller Hall Room 105
Miller Hall Room 105
Authors and illustrators of picturebooks for Japanese children often appropriate characters, imagery, and plotlines with recognizably religious pedigrees in order to transfer them into the secular world of children’s education and entertainment. In this talk, I examine the transformation of Buddhist hell from dreadful to hilarious in picturebooks for pre-literate children and emerging readers ages 4 to 7. Arguing against conventional interpretations that frame these books as wholly irreligious, I show that hell has become a cornerstone in a national vernacular tradition and that it continues to serve moralizing purposes even as it makes us laugh.