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Lydia Brammer

Current Research and Thesis Focus

Ayako Wakao, sexual autonomy, and female stardom in post-war Japanese cinema.

My current research involves exploring the stardom of one of Japan's most eminent classic female film stars, Ayako Wakao (1933-). Appearing in 160 films between 1952 and 2005, Wakao was most active in the 1950s to mid-1960s. She has worked with some of Japan's greatest directors including Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu. By drawing on elements of film star studies, gender studies, and of course Japanese studies, my research will bring together close film analysis and a survey of the promotional and critical discourse surrounding the work of Wakao. It will also demonstrate my passion for interdisciplinary research. By referencing Japanese-language studies during the course of my investigation via the use of archival and historical material, I will demonstrate the significant cultural impact Wakao and her films had on the changing screen image of Japanese screen femininity and sexuality.

For a preview of thesis-related content, please do read my blog post published for the BAFTSS Performance & Stardom SIG (Nov 2020). Re-building tradition: Ayako Wakao's early performance in Kenji Mizoguchi's Gion Bayashi (1953).Link opens in a new window



I hold a BA(Hons) in Film Studies with Japanese Language & Contemporary Society from Oxford Brookes University. As an undergraduate student, I lived and studied in Japan during my third year as part of my course at Oxford Brookes. I studied at the University of Yamanashi where I was fortunate enough to receive a government scholarship (JASSO) and enrol on such courses as Japanese calligraphy, Japanese painting, origami, and intensive language courses. My dissertation focused on the representation of women and the female body in Takashi Miike’s work, and with this, I achieved a First for my undergraduate degree.

Following the completion of the above course, I continued my studies at Oxford Brookes University by undertaking an MA in Film Studies. My work again focused on more ‘extreme’ types of cinema: horror, Scandinavian erotica, ‘Video Nasties’, all of which culminated in a dissertation focused on exploring how ‘extreme’ cinema can elicit viewers to sympathise with a twisted protagonist. I focused on David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996) and Teruo Ishii’s Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) – two very different films but which both explore very similar themes and styles when representing ‘perverted’ protagonists. I hold a Merit for my Master's degree.

After completing an MA, I began working in academic publishing as a Senior Journals Publishing Assistant at Wiley, where I assisted in managing their journals affiliated with society partnerships in economics and business management. I also managed six Wiley-owned journals. During my time at Wiley, I also undertook a Journals Publishing course at Oxford Brookes, where I gained a First Certificate. My final study was focused on developing a strategy within the social sciences for Chinese publications.

I worked at Wiley for two years and then moved to Elsevier, where I became a Market Intelligence Manager. This role was a combination of bibliometric analytics and strategic development for the company. I worked with a variety of colleagues and external parties and delivered many workshops to universities on measuring research impact and journal publishing. I stayed at Elsevier for just over three years and now work in a similar role at Frontiers, a community-rooted, open access academic publisher, where open science is at the very core of the company’s philosophies.