Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Seeing With Eyes Unclouded: Representations of Creativity in the Works of Hayao Miyazaki" - my undergraduate thesis project is available online now!

You may remember that for a long stretch this year, between August and early November, I posted next to nothing here on the site, save for the podcast - and even that got interrupted periodically. While I have spoken about the reasons for my absence a little bit on the show, I have not written about it in text here, and today, I can not only explain to you where I was and what I was doing, but actually show you.

For the majority of the Fall, I was working on my undergraduate Honors Thesis at the University of Colorado at Boulder. This is the process by which the University designates Latin Honors for graduation, and gave me the opportunity to create something I have wanted to write for a very long time. Over the past year, and during the last few months in particular, I researched and wrote what is effectively a book-length study into three specific films by Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki, who many of you may know is my favorite film director. This study, focusing on the way creativity is represented and explored in three of his most fascinating films - Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), Whisper of the Heart (1995), and The Wind Rises (2013) - was a real passion project for me. It is called Seeing With Eyes Unclouded: Representations of Creativity in the Works of Hayao Miyazaki, and it is both the most challenging and rewarding project I have ever taken on; I also think it is the best thing I have ever written.

And now, you can read the entire thing, online and for free, at the CU Scholar portal, where it has just been published. You can visit the main splash page for details on the project and links to download, or follow this link for direct access to the PDF, which can be read online or downloaded and perused locally. 

More details on this project, and how you can access and read it, after the jump...

I have been thinking for a while now about how I would share this project with readers; certainly, one of my plans for the future is to find a publisher for this text, expand it, and release it in book form. But that will be a ways off, of course, and for now, I am happy CU Scholar has made the text available for free online, so it can be read and cited by a larger audience. I hope this isn't the final destination for the project, as I do want to do more with it in the future, but for now, this is a great, easy way for people to access the text online, download it, print it, etc. Especially if you are a fan of Miyazaki's work, I think you are really going to like it.

I had wanted to create a major secondary text about Miyazaki's films for a while now, and this undergraduate thesis project afforded me the opportunity to do so, while the specific idea of exploring creativity in his work gave my ideas a structure and direction they had not had before. This will not be my last time writing about Miyazaki, but as a first swing at something this big, it was an exciting, scary, and ultimately, incredibly rewarding experience. I learned so much about his work, and I think readers will as well.

This project was advised by Professor Melinda Barlow in the University's Film Studies program, and I cannot thank her enough for all the hard work she put into helping me hone my ideas and improve the text. Her assistance was invaluable. I also have to thank the other members of the examination committee, Professor Ernesto Acevedo-Munoz and Professor Paul Strom, whose insightful questions during the defense were a delight to consider and discuss. My brother Thomas Lack also helped a lot along the way, as he was the first or second person, along with Professor Barlow, to read early drafts, and gave me a lot of good feedback as a result.

This Thesis was defended in early November, and I just learned a few weeks ago that I have, as a result, earned the Summa Cum Laude honors designation for my undergraduate degree. That is hugely exciting, of course, but I am even more interested in getting this work out to a wider audience and seeing what they have to say. This is the biggest thing I have ever written, and it may also be the most significant English-language study into these films to date; The Wind Rises, certainly, has not had this level of scholarly attention so far, and I hope my thoughts will prove insightful to fans of these incredible films.

In any case, everything else I have to say is in the thesis itself, and I hope you all get a chance to check it out. As said previously, the work is available for free, and can be downloaded, saved, and used locally - so please give it a look, share it with friends, and join me in celebrating the work of animated cinema's most incredible artist. Enjoy...

Read and download Seeing With Eyes Unclouded: Representations of Creativity in the Works of Hayao Miyazaki, online in PDF form

Visit the CU Scholar information page for the project, with links to download

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