I decided to write another abstract to help center me back at the core of my research. With all the more reading and interviews, I feel more confident in this one. I think the act of writing just helps me say: THIS EXISTS IN THE WORLD, AND I DID THAT.
So here it is:
This paper investigates the definitions and depictions of bara: a Japanese term used to describe illustrations and comics of hypermasculine, muscular or beefy men, engaging in erotic or sadomasochistic intercourse. Literally translating to “rose” in English, the term’s use in describing gay comics is contested; however, scholars often cite the first 1970s mainstream Japanese gay magazine Barazoku as a clear historical marker for the art style. Since the 1970s, the term has a life of its own becoming a current and retrospective catch-all phrase for gay erotica that serves a male audience on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. The digitally mediated artwork ranges from original characters, anthropomorphic furries, to fanart, which is drastically different from its origins in illustrating Japanese homoeroticism. However, the lineage of hypermasculine erotica continues as the term has loosely disseminated through the internet. Some renowned bara artists refrain from the term because it’s historical use as a slur against gay men. Some use the term gay or “gei” manga to define art that bara claims. Regardless, the term is widely used online. I am interested in how the term’s usage has changed, tracing its history from the 1970s to today’s digital terminology. What does bara mean and encompass now? Through a qualitative study of interviews from self-described bara artists and consumers, I investigate bara’s current definitions and what purpose bara serves as a form of erotica. Through the lenses of gender sexuality studies, fandom studies, and art history, I hope to explore these questions and understand how viewers and artists interact with hegemonic masculinity in erotica.
My research has been mostly going back and forth between transcribing and analyzing interviews and reading, reading, reading! What’s helped me has been continuing the literature exercise from Forum Post #2. It’s really helped me see what I’ve read and in context to my research and it’s cool to see that “oh hey, I read that and I’ve read so much!!” instead of going back a gigantic folder of PDFs and thinking, “What was this?!”
That’s all for now!