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Lack of academic recognition in VN


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Academic recognition has been a driving force for talent. Almost all great poet/writer/playwright/film director are expert critic themselves. In where I live VN is about the only culture product you cannot write a thesis on. I have seen someone published an analysis on the storytelling of dark soul or a parallel comparison between anime and fiction. This would have to do with the niche nature of VN. I am rather interested if it is the same elsewhere. One day it would be moaned as a loss to humanity similar to the profession of blacksmith.

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Not sure how academic scene works in your country, but my experience is that you can write a thesis about anything in humanities, if you are able to convince people there's something meaningful in the phenomenon - popcultural studies may be young, but they're only expanding and it would be absolutely doable to make a serious research project on VNs from the perspective of literary studies, game studies, fan studies etc. I even made a small project on VN fan translations for a conference, even though I never expanded it as far as I initially wanted.

I also made my master's thesis on MLP fan porn, in no way a mainstream phenomenon, and it was in sociology, where the burden of showing what you write about is meaningful in the scale of the broader societal issues is a bit higher than in cultural studies. Even so, it's true that there's virtually no academic work on VN in the West - when doing research, I've been literally able to find one book about VNs and their anime adaptation, which wasn't very helpful or particularly interesting BTW. I imagine it's not much better in Japan, as popcultural studies are still very weak there. I'd say there are a few reasons for it:

1. It's an extremely niche medium, that is seriously absent from most people's popcultural knowledge - I think there many very curious aspects of VNs for both cultural studies and marketing, but simply too few people know them well enough to write about them in a meaningful way. Even in the academic world, it's the fans that drive various types' of media presence in the discussion and there's simply too few of us.

2. It's a medium connected to porn, which means it will very likely be picked up by porn studies or by no one. I don't think the stigma connected to porn is that bad in the humanities/social studies nowadays, but once more, you have to first learn about the medium in-depth and see its potential before you can write anything interesting about it. And the idea of VNs being "gross fanservice games for horny teenagers" definitely doesn't help with that.

If I end my leave next year and go back to my academic work, I will surely try to publish something on VN fan translations in English. Maybe will refocus my PhD on it, because the current project surely isn't getting anywhere. :P

Edited by Plk_Lesiak
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19 minutes ago, Rain Spectre said:

Probably worth noting that a Japanese guy managed to graduate on a thesis on SubaHibi, and another did so with Eustia. 

Aye, but this can be a bit misleading. There's usually a lot of freedom on what you can write your bachelor's/master's thesis, but more often than not those are read by five people in total and never get to circulate in the academic discourse. So, it tells you that the topic is viable to some degree, but not necessarily that anyone is doing anything "serious" with it.

Plus, we still don't know what country OP comes from. Maybe they would really have no chance to get such a thesis through because of anti-porn policies...

Edited by Plk_Lesiak
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Writing about VNs for college has been done, if infrequently.  I did an analysis of the community based off of personal experience and a detailed analysis of VN review bloggers for English class and got good marks, lol.  That was actually the one I got the best rate on.  I also did a book-style review of Dies Irae for the same class, using translations of Japanese bloggers' own analyses for opposition and backup both. 

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14 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

If I end my leave next year and go back to my academic work, I will surely try to publish something on VN fan translations in English. Maybe will refocus my PhD on it, because the current project surely isn't getting anywhere.

Are you considering a career in VN or professorship? To focus on VN in PhD is quite a commitment that I don't think can be explained by hobby and interest alone. That is a choice you only make once in your life similar to marriage.

---

I am quite disappointed in the education policy in where I live. I realised the freedom I sought is not to be found in university. I am trully among a despised species in society. Neither useful as an accountant or doctor, nor academic as a scientist.

Edited by zxdvas
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5 hours ago, zxdvas said:

Are you considering a career in VN or professorship? To focus on VN in PhD is quite a commitment that I don't think can be explained by hobby and interest alone. That is a choice you only make once in your life similar to marriage.

1

Haha, well, professorship if anything, but it's not like I'd be doing a PhD in "VNology", most of my work is already connected to popcultural/fan studies in sociology, so this would still be in my current "area of expertise".

But yeah, I can imagine not every university being this open. Even in my country there's a shift towards university education and research being more "useful" and the Minister of Science and Higher Education seems to have some kind of explicit grudge against humanities. But I don't think it will ever get this bad...

Edited by Plk_Lesiak
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23 hours ago, zxdvas said:

Academic recognition has been a driving force for talent. Almost all great poet/writer/playwright/film director are expert critic themselves. In where I live VN is about the only culture product you cannot write a thesis on. I have seen someone published an analysis on the storytelling of dark soul or a parallel comparison between anime and fiction. This would have to do with the niche nature of VN. I am rather interested if it is the same elsewhere. One day it would be moaned as a loss to humanity similar to the profession of blacksmith.

 

This is awkward.

I wrote my senior thesis on Saya No Uta, Kara No Shoujo, Doki Doki Literature Club, and Phenomeno. It was during the summer of this year. I was actually DMing people for sources, and frankly it sucks. The VN medium is so small, but yet can be argued that it’s been around for a little bit less than the video game world. 

 

Now, when it comes to academic recognition, it’s kinda a double edged sword in my opinion; because are there quite a few hardcore fans who don’t the VN medium to reach anime levels of pop culture. So imagine if the academic world were to touch this side of the otaku fandom. I think their fears are unfounded because I do believe that VNs are truly an artistic medium. And you know what happened to me when I told r/visual-novels. I was mocked, downvoted, and I ran to Fuwanovel. For VNs to truly have academic recognition, we would need a EVN kamige of our own that can break into the mainstream. Academics do spend a good chunk of their time studying popular works because it’s fun for them and it gets them citations. However, as I just said, VNs need to earn it. For example, why would an academic read a one of those nukiges? To find some deeper poetic meaning? That’s the thing to bear in mind.

 

Will VNs receive the same of kind of academic treatment like Movies and Books, well.... remember, Video Games are STILL not getting academic representation. Relevant video: 

 

 

So, I think we will get it. However, the term visual novel is arguably kinda hard to explain to people. Because normies think graphic novel, comic book, etc. So for my thesis I was arguing that Visual Novels are art, high art. I was using a defintion from the standford enclyopedia, and building arguments from the VNs I’ve read into it.

Also, I am not a humanities guy. I am a computer science major. My professor approved of it and it’s not yet—published anywhere. 

 

But honestly, I wish I can elaborate more, but @Plk_Lesiak beat me to it. But, I am an American undergrad at some eastern liberal arts university.

 

@zxdvas, if you want to read my thesis. I will send it to you. It takes a while for things to get published. That’s why I haven’t made a post on it yet.

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  • 2 years later...

I'm going to necro this thread since I stumbled upon it and think it's a good topic. In University I wrote two theses and one of them was on the topic of Visual Novels. Specifically it was on the topic of the death of the novel and decline in reading in the digital age, and how I think VNs as a medium can counter this problem. I actually boiled down my core points and recently turned it into a documentary/video-essay:

 

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