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SLLLC Welcomes New Faculty Members

Introducing the newest Professor of Japanese, Dr. Ben Whaley

The School of Languages, Linguistics. Literatures and Cultures is pleased to welcome the newest member of the Japanese section, faculty member Dr. Ben Whaley.

Ben Whaley joins the SLLLC from The University of British Columbia, where he worked as a sessional lecturer and recently completed his Ph.D. in Asian Studies. As a scholar of modern Japanese literature and pop culture, Whaley's research and teaching centers on how contemporary Japanese visual culture – manga (print comics), anime (animation), and video games - engages with (and often disrupts) set discourses of ethnicity, identity, and national trauma.

His current book project, Toward a Gameic World: New Rules of Engagement from Japanese Video Games, takes advantage of these interests in its focus on the intersection between Japanese studies and media studies. In it, as the title suggests, he examines a selection of Japanese video games and discusses the ways in which they simulate social issues and national trauma. For his purposes, this means analyzing console games that address issues important to Japan, such as natural disasters, a declining birthrate and aging population, and traumatic war memory. He is particularly interested in how the mediological elements of video game design might make us better people by allowing for a working through of trauma and virtual exposure to other mindsets and cultures.

When not playing with pixels and power-ups, Whaley also researches modern Japanese literature of trauma by minority writers, and ethno-racial representation in postwar manga. To this end, his next project is an examination of how some of Japan’s most famous comic artists appropriated Jewish identity and the Holocaust as a means of grappling with Japan’s own legacy of wartime imperialism, defeat, and eventual recovery.

This year Whaley will be teaching a course on Japanese manga, anime, and videogames, as well as courses on beginning Japanese language. Whaley welcomes contact from anyone with overlapping research interests and is incredibly excited to join the school and the greater scholarly community here at U of C! 宜しくお願いします (Nice to meet you!)