Paul Roquet

Associate Professor of Media Studies and Japan Studies
Mitsui Career Development Professor in Contemporary Technology
Comparative Media Studies / Writing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology



2012   PhD, Japanese Language, Designated Emphasis in Film Studies, University of California, Berkeley   

2007   MA, Japanese Language, University of California, Berkeley

2003   BA, Asian Studies/Media Studies, Pomona College

Academic Positions

2022-   Associate Professor (with tenure), Media Studies and Japan Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Comparative Media Studies / Writing

2019-2022   Associate Professor (without tenure), Media Studies and Japan Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Comparative Media Studies / Writing

2018-2019   Associate Professor (without tenure) of Japanese Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Global Studies and Languages

2016-2018   Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Global Studies and Languages

2015-2016   Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Media and Film Studies, Brown University, Modern Culture and Media

2012-2015   Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities, Stanford University, East Asian Languages and Cultures

Fellowships and Honors

2017-2023   Mitsui Career Development Professor in Contemporary Technology, MIT

2018-2019   Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Research Fellow – Long Term, Tokyo University of the Arts

2011   Center for Japanese Studies Fellow, UC Berkeley

2009-2010   Fulbright IIE Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellow, Rikkyō University (Tokyo)

2009   Graduate Fellow in Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts, Arts Research Center, UC Berkeley

2008 Center for Japanese Studies Fellow, UC Berkeley

2007   Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow, Intermediate Hindi, South Asian Summer Language Program, University of Wisconsin, Madison

2005-2010   Regents Intern Fellow, UC Berkeley

2005-2008   Townsend Discovery Fellow, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley

2003-2004   Thomas J. Watson Fellow (multi-country research project): “Acoustic Ecology: Sound and Society in the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Canada”


April 2023   "Ambient Capture: Platforming Atmospherics from YouTube to the Metaverse." University of Utah

March 2023   "Mapping the Metaverse Land Grab in East Asia." Association for Asian Studies, Boston

March 2023   "The Background Fantastic: Ambient Fantasy from YouTube to the Metaverse." Figure Ground Media lecture series, Princeton University

March 2023   "Selective Embodiment in the Retreat to the Metaverse." Translating Embodiedness Symposium (Part 2), London

November 2022   "没入的囲い込み:日本のバーチャルリアリティを考える." 日本メディア学会 (Japan Association for Media, Journalism, and Communication Studies), Okinawa

July 2022   "Presence and Absence at the Virtual Market." DiGRA 2022, Warsaw

June 2022   "Dis-Intercorporeality: On the Unresponsiveness of the Virtual Body." Translating Embodiedness Symposium, Durham University

April 2022   "The Immersive Enclosure: Japanese Virtual Reality and the Privatization of Presence." Reischauer Institute Japan Forum, Harvard University

April 2022   "Placing Virtual Reality: Japan’s Alternative VR History." Discovery Lecture Series, Harvard University

April 2022   "The Nauseous Interface: A Cultural History of Moving Image Motion Sickness." Society for Cinema and Media Studies

March 2021   "VR as a Social Enclosure." Society for Cinema and Media Studies

December 2020   "Ambience In and Around the Virtual Reality Headset." 4th International Conference on Ambiances, UC Santa Barbara

October 2020   "Automating Perception in Japanese VR." Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs

February 2020   "The Circular Ruins: Isolation and Afterlife in Japanese VR,” Contemporary Japanese Thought speaker series, Cornell University

February 2020   "Confronting a Spatial Computing Future in Japan’s VR Visual Novels,” keynote lecture, Imagining Our Digital Futures conference, University of Sheffield

October 2019   "The Animation Enclosure: VR Visual Novels and the Space Around the Face." Animate Assembly, University of London, Birkbeck

August 2019   "Mediating Japan's Labor Shortage with VR Telepresence." University of East Anglia

March 2019   “The Telepresence Enclosure: Virtual Reality and Demographic Change in Japan,” The Chinese University of Hong Kong

December 2018   "The Ethics of Atmosphere,” Atmospheres in the Urban Anthropocene workshop, Aarhus School of Architecture

September 2018   “From Headphones to the Head-Mounted Display: Towards an Audiocentric History of Media Immersion,” Sound Culture Studies and Modernity in Asia Conference, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

July 2018   “Japan’s Mixed Realities: Urbanizing AR/VR,” Beijing Normal University Media/Anime/Digital Industries Summer School, Tokyo University of the Arts

July 2018   “Peripheral Visions: Ambient Media from Muzak to Mixed Reality,” Tokyo University of the Arts

April 2018   “VR in Japan: Anime Bodies, Algorithmic Worlds,” keynote lecture for Japan Week, Brown University

March 2018   “Living with Ambient Computation in Japanese VR Narratives,” and chair of “VR Aesthetics: Immersion and Empathy” panel, Society for Cinema and Media Studies

February 2018   “Mixed Realism and Composited Violence in the Light Novel/LitRPG,” Association for Japanese Literary Studies, Oberlin College

October 2017   “IoT Portals, Ubiquity, and the Ambient Power Play,” Porting Media II, Concordia University

March 2017   “Desktop Reveries: Hand, Software, and the Space of Japanese Artist Animation,” CMS/W Colloquium Series, MIT

February 2017   “The Space of Japanese Artist Animation” and Nightlights (video essay), Media Studies and Popular Culture in Contemporary Japan, Syracuse University

November 2016   “The Internet of (Japanese) Things: Cultural Protocols in an Augmented Age,” Center for East Asian Studies, Yale University

June 2016   Scenes Before Cinema (video essay), Association of Asian Studies in Asia, Dōshisha University

May 2016   “Sounding Security in Japan’s Emergency Earthquake Chime,” Music of Sound Workshop, University of Chicago

April 2016   “After Affects: Composited Emotion in Japanese Media Art,” East Asian Media Ecologies Lecture Series, Harvard University

April 2016   “On So Many Maps at Once: The Early Days of Augmented Reality Gaming in Japan,” Gaming East Asia, Princeton University

November 2015   “Off the Grid in Japan’s Augmented Reality: The Dark Alleys of Dennō Coil,” Asia.Theory.Visuality, Princeton University

September 2015   “Media as a Form of Care (Or the Lack Thereof): Going to Sleep with MUJI to Sleep,” Modern Culture and Media Colloquium Series, Brown University

March 2015   “TRON and the Forgotten History of Ubiquitous Computing in Japan,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies

June 2014   “Japanese Film Sound from the Studio to the Streets,” East Asian Studies Symposium, Stanford University

March 2014   “Deforming Bodies with Kawakami Hiromi,” Association for Asian Studies

March 2013   “Solitary Moods as Cinematic Form: The Soundtrack to Tony Takitani,” Association for Asian Studies

March 2012   “Background Video in an Age of ‘Subtractivism,’” Asian Cinema Studies Society, University of Hong Kong

June 2011   “Low-affect Sociality in Contemporary Japan,” Asian Studies Conference Japan, International Christian University

May 2011   “On the Pliocene Coast: Night on the Galactic Railroad as Modal Cinema” Meiji Gakuin Film Workshop, Meiji Gakuin University

November 2010   “Yoshiyuki Rie and the Reorientation of Emotion in 1970s Japan,” Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität

June 2010   “Environmental Music and the Rise of Amenity Culture in Japan” Modern Japan History Workshop, Waseda University

May 2009   Panel participant, “The Play of Nervous Activity: Audiovisual Textures, Multiplanar Narrativity, and Victorian Psychophysics,” Sense and Sensation, UC Berkeley

April 2009   “Ambient Media and the Affective Turn,” Arts Research Center, UC Berkeley

April 2008   “Ambient Video and Information Ecology,” Asian Visual Cultures Working Group, UC Irvine

Published Materials


2022   The Immersive Enclosure: Virtual Reality in Japan, Columbia University Press (264 pp.)

2016   Ambient Media: Japanese Atmospheres of Self, University of Minnesota Press (248 pp.)

Articles in Refereed Journals

2023   "Japan's Retreat to the Metaverse." Media, Culture and Society (fothcoming)

2021   "Acoustics of the One Person Space: Headphone Listening, Detachable Ambience, and the Binaural Prehistory of VR." Sound Studies 7.1: 42-63.

2020   "Telepresence Enclosure: VR, Remote Work, and the Privatization of Presence in a Shrinking Japan." Media Theory 4.1: 33-62.

2020   "Empathy for the Game Master: How Virtual Reality Creates Empathy for Those Seen to Be Creating VR" along with introduction to co-edited special issue (with Brooke Belisle) on "VR: Immersion and Empathy," Journal of Visual Culture 19.1: 65-80 and 3-10.

2016   “From Animation to Augmentation: Dennō Coil and the Composited Self,” Animation 11.3 (November): 228-45

2014   “A Blue Cat on the Galactic Railroad: Anime and Cosmic Subjectivity,” Representations 128 (Fall): 124-58

2014   “Carbon as Creation: Tsuji Naoyuki’s Charcoal Anime,” Mechademia 9: 63-75

2009   “Ambient Landscapes from Brian Eno to Tetsu Inoue,” Journal of Popular Music Studies 21.4: 364-383

2009   “Ambient Literature and the Aesthetics of Calm: Mood Regulation in Contemporary Japanese Fiction,” Journal of Japanese Studies 35.1 (Winter): 87-111

2007   “Reencountering Lee Ufan,” Octopus: A Visual Studies Journal Vol. 3: Import/Export (Fall): 85-98

Chapters in Books

2020   "Solo Animation in Japan: Empathy for the Drawn Body," in Joanne Bernardi and Shota T. Ogawa, eds., Routledge Handbook of Japanese Cinema. New York: Routledge, pp. 141-52.

2020   "Media," in Marianne Krogh, ed., Connectedness: An Incomplete Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene. Copenhagen: Strandberg, pp. 246-7

2013   “The Domestication of the Cool Cat,” in Ulla Haselstein and Irmela Hijiya- Kirschnereit, eds., The Cultural Career of Coolness: Discourses and Practices of Affect Control in European Antiquity, the United States, and Japan. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, pp. 237-50

Other Publications -- Refereed

2020   “Ambience In and Around the Virtual Reality Headset,” in Damion Masson, ed., Ambiances, Alloaesthesia: Proceedings of the 4th International Congress on Ambiances. Paris: International Ambiances Network, Vol. 2, pp. 14-19

Other Publications -- Non-Refereed


2004   Towards the Bowels of the Earth: Butoh Writhing in Perspectives. Published for distribution among butō dance community via Lulu Press


2023  "Learning from VR Motion Sickness," CAVRN (March 12)

2021   "In the Mood," Real Life (April 26)

2019   "The Body Shop." LOGIC magazine 8: Bodies: 100-11.

2018   “Peripheral Visions,” Real Life (July 19)

2016   “The Boombox on the Bus: Erik Satie’s Furniture Music in 2016,” University of Minnesota Press Blog (February 24)

2010   “Unhinged Desire (At Home with Obayashi)” Blu-ray/DVD booklet for Hausu (Masters of Cinema)

2009   “Obayashi Nobuhiko, Vagabond of Time,” Midnight Eye feature article (November 10)

---Book and Film Reviews

2018   Larissa Hjorth, Sarah Pink, Kristen Sharp, and Linda Williams, Screen Ecologies: Art, Media, and the Environment in the Asia-Pacific Region, Pacific Affairs 90.4 (December): 783-85

2017   Mia Consalvo, Atari to Zelda: Japan’s Videogames in Global Contexts, Pacific Affairs 90.2 (June): 367-69

2015   Yuriko Furuhata, Cinema of Actuality: Japanese Avant-Garde Filmmaking in the Season of Image Politics, Japan Forum 27.1 (Winter): 109-11

2007   Tony Takitani (film) Scope 9 (October)

---Translations from Japanese

2013   Nakane Chie, “Group Characteristics based on ‘Place’ (1967)” Review of Japanese Culture and Society 25. Special Issue: “Working Words: New Approaches to Japanese Studies” (2013): 170-78

2011   Hasegawa Hitomi, “The Group 1965: Shining Under the Spotlight.” Catalogue for The Group 1965: We Are Boys!, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (May - July)