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Lawrence Eng's Anime Fandom Research

Please Note

Though I still study otaku, my official academic research project (described below) is now complete. Many thanks to all who participated!

Those who wish to read my dissertation can find a copy here:
Otaku engagements: Subcultural appropriation of science and technology

My work can also found in the following book (in which I wrote 2 chapters):

(Kindle edition)

I don't intend to update this page further, but for those who want to learn more about my otaku research, please visit my sites in the link section below. I am also available for lectures, seminars, and workshops. Please see my CV for more information.

Welcome and thank you for visiting my research page!

What you'll find on this page:

Who I'm looking for | About me | What my research is about | What I need from you | Links to some of my work |

Who I'm looking for

For my doctoral dissertation research, I am interested in talking to fans who consider themselves veterans and/or experts in any aspect of their anime fandom, or those fans who belong to large social networks. If you consider yourself any degree of knowledgeable/devoted/obsessed/hardcore, please contact me! Likewise, people who aspire to be such fans are of interest to me, and even if you don't fit that profile at all, I'd still like to talk with you and get your valuable perspective on things. Alternate viewpoints are always appreciated.

About me


My name is Lawrence Eng. I'm 30 years old, and a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). I'm a doctoral candidate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, and the topic of my dissertation research is otaku culture. I'm well aware of the controversy amongst fans regarding the usage of the word "otaku", and I respect people's opinions on the matter, even if they are different from my own. [If I quote you in my dissertation, you can specify whether or not you object to being called an otaku. Even though I am committed to using use that term respectfully (without resorting to negative stereotypes), I promise to respect your desire not to be called that if that's your choice. You can find some of my short essays on otaku at the list of links below, if you're interested.]

For the sake of simplicity (and to avoid arguments), let's just say I am studying anime fandom. I've been an anime fan myself since I was 5 years old. I'm a member of the generation that grew up watching Yamato, Gatchaman, and Robotech on TV. It wasn't until college, however, that I really got into fandom--joining anime clubs, participating in online communities, going to conventions, making fansites, etc. These days (ever since starting grad school), I haven't been watching as much anime, but I've been getting back into it as part of my research. Some of my all time favorites include To-Y, serial experiments lain, and a lot of the Gainax classics. Recently, I've been watching Initial D, Aim for the Top 2: Diebuster, Genshiken, Densha Otoko (live action TV drama), Kino no Tabi and various other titles I've gotten here and there.

What my research is about

In Science and Technology Studies, we are interested in the relationship between science, technology, and society. In a nutshell, we are interested in how science and technology influence society, and how social factors are involved in the production of science and technology. I am studying anime fans from the perspective that they're a subculture that can be understood in many of the same ways that we understand scientific culture, and in terms of their (often very interesting) technology use. I want to know how you acquire and process information, how you use technology, the social networks you belong to, the ways that you consider yourself different (or the same) because of your fandom. If you haven't thought about that kind of stuff at all, don't worry! It's my job to interview you to get all the details I need to know (and maybe you'll learn something about yourself at the same time.)

What I need from you

A lot of the time, I will just be observing your activities, but not as an outsider. I will be doing the same things you are doing: chatting on irc and IM, participating in forum discussions, watching anime, attending cons. From time to time, I might ask you some questions, but not in a formal setting. I'm of the opinion that being a fan myself and doing all the fan-related stuff will allow me to write about anime fandom in a more meaningul, respectful, and accurate way.

I'd also like to interview you more formally, either in person, online, or over the telephone. I'll be asking you questions like:

  • How did you get into anime?
  • What kinds of shows do you usually watch and why do you like them?
  • Do you have friends who watch anime, and if so, how do you usually interact with them?
  • Do you consider yourself different from non-anime fans, and if so, how?
  • What kinds of fan-related activities are you involved in?
  • Do you go to anime conventions, and if so, what kinds of things do you do there?
  • What are some ways that you use computers and the internet?

Needless to say, any personal information that could be used to identify you will be kept private and not shown to anyone. As required by my university, I will have you (the interviewee) read and sign what is called an "Informed Consent Form" before we do a formal interview. This document explains a) your rights as a research informant and b) how your privacy is protected. On the form, for example, you can specify if you want to remain anonymous if I decide to quote you, or if you want your name to be known.

I hope you will be interested in talking to me, even if it's just to chat about the latest anime you've seen. I really look forward to getting to know you, and I think you'll enjoy sharing your experiences as a fan. If you have any questions about my research, please do not hesitate to ask. I can be reached on AIM anytime at Lawmune7, or you can email me at leng@cjas.org (my personal address) or engl@rpi.edu (my school address). Take care, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Links to some of my work

Blogging General Specific

Last updated on June 16th, 2012
Lawrence Eng