Thursday 17 November 2016
6:00pm – 8:00pm

“I’m Alone, But Not Lonely” - An Essay on the Rise of Otaku

Drinks reception: 7:00pm – 8:00pm

13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle (entrance facing Regent's Park), London NW1 4QP

Organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

Fully booked

For this event, sociologist Volker Grassmuck will give an illustrated talk about his visit to Tokyo in 1989 and the experiences which resulted in his popular and influential essay “I’m Alone, But Not Lonely”. The essay focuses on the emergence, through the 1980s, of the now well-known, albeit mercurial Otaku phenomenon (originally defining over-technologised Tokyo teens.) The essay’s enduring relevance and popularity today points to the implicit proposition ‘Are we not all Otaku now?’ – a question that might provide a good focus for discussion.

For this new publication Grassmuck’s essay will be provided with a reflective introduction by the author and illustrated by manga artist Kengyuan Qiu. It has been edited, designed and bound by publisher of artists’ books, eeodo, who will be present with books available for purchase. Dr Griseldis Kirsch, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Japanese Culture at SOAS, will join Grassmuck in discussion. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Paul O’Kane, founder of eeodo, who will field questions and contribute his own experiences of using the essay while teaching students of his long-standing undergraduate seminar in Fine Art and a history of technologies.

A video of the event can be found here:

About the contributors

Volker Grassmuck

Volker Grassmuck is a media sociologist, freelance author and activist. He has studied and conducted research on the knowledge order of digital media, copyright and the knowledge commons, at Free University Berlin, Tokyo University, Humboldt University Berlin and University of São Paulo. His most recent research project, Public Service Media 2.0, at the Centre for Digital Cultures (CDC) of Leuphana University Lueneburg, inquired about the future of public service media. He was project leader of the conference series and of the copyright information portal He co-founded, and, and is a member of, and
He blogs at

Dr Griseldis Kirsch

Dr Griseldis Kirsch is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Japanese Culture at SOAS, University of London. She received her PhD from the University of Trier, Germany in 2008 and she has had a long-standing interest in Japanese popular culture. She is author of Contemporary Sino-Japanese Relations on Screen: 1989-2005, A History (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015) and co-editor (with Dolores P. Martinez and Merry White) of Assembling Japan: Modernity, Technology and Global Culture (Oxford: Peter Lang).

Paul O’Kane (Chair)

Paul O’Kane is an artist, writer and lecturer. He studied BA Fine Art & Art History, then MA Visual Cultures, and completed a PhD in History at Goldsmiths College, University of London (2009). He is a Lecturer in Fine Art and Critical Studies at Central St Martins College, London, and makes and exhibits artworks concerned with a history of technologies and narrative. He writes for leading art journals, including Art Monthly and Third Text and has published over 100 articles, reviews and catalogue essays. He is a founder member of artists’ book publishing company eeodo with whom he published ‘Where Is That Light Now?  (photography and memoir) in 2014. He is an International Member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) and blogs at

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