Tiffany Hong

Panel 2A: Literary Transcodifications/2
Session 2 – July 1, 15:30 – 17:30

Transcodifying the Murakamiverse: Migrating Multimodal Narratology

This paper assesses Murakami Haruki’s narratological strategies through the logic of transcodification; namely, how what I term the Murakamiverse engages with and sustains competing, simultaneous modes of representing and formulating meaning that depart from the purely literary or textual. The Murakamiverse – which encompasses his major works of fiction, journalistic/autobiographical publications, and a deliberate cultivation of commingled authorial and diegetic personae – operates in a manner reminiscent of transmedia corporations originating in the comic book medium. The baroque infrastructure; synchronous inhabiting of competing, paradoxical, and yet interdependent realities; navigation of multimodal representation; and fostering of recursive reading practices in the service of cumulative/aggregative meaning are typical of multiverses rooted in sequential art, but I argue that these practices have been transcodified within the (almost exclusively textual) Murakamiverse. In a translation of superhero conventions, Murakami’s major novels repeat-with-difference compositional patterns, tropes, characters, even words and phrases (made more evident in the visual contrast of katakana and kanji) that appear to gesture towards an overriding teleological intent, while simultaneously subverting the authority of hegemonic narratives such as religion and state history. This dynamic, which interrogates the tension between the cyclical nature of syndicated storytelling and the inherently linear, finite nature of the medium (the comic book, the novel, etc.) itself, and the inevitable deviations in chronotope that occur as a result of this paradox, are articulated within and enriched by the discourse of Comics Studies. Murakami’s migration from a logocentric model to one informed by the rhizomatic, the hypertextual, and the palimpsestic offers a generative space to interrogate transcodifying practices, and enacts a radical inhabiting of form as performing and amplifying content. 


Dr. Tiffany Hong is Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies at Earlham College. She received her PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures (Japanese) from the University of California, Irvine. Currently, she is working on a monograph which examines the narratology of Murakami Haruki through the visual rhetoric of sequential art studies. Her work has appeared in Room One Thousand (UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design), Image [&] Narrative, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, and ImageTexT