Somewhat belatedly: I'm giving a talk on a portion of my dissertation tomorrow afternoon in Doe Library on the Berkeley campus. The abstract is below; I hope to see you there!
Between 1905 and 1928 manga emerged as a separate artistic medium in Japan in reaction to ponchie, a populist hybrid art form that flourished in the early and mid-Meiji period (1868 – 1912). The pioneers of manga, self-consciously elitist in the vein of Fukuzawa Yukichi’s (1835 – 1901) philosophy of “civilization and enlightenment” (bunmei kaika), wished to create a higher-class art form that could, and did, depict exclusively political content. This early vision of manga as consisting of only political satire did not survive the economic fortunes of World War I, and its collapse, therefore, has profound implications for the history of Japanese comics as a whole. Only by expanding the scope of manga beyond political satire was the medium able to survive and flourish in the Taishō (1912 – 1926) and Shōwa (1926 – 1989) periods.