Japanese gentō (originally a translation of the English term “magic lantern”) is a still-image projection system that enlarges images on a transparent slide or film and projects them onto a large screen. Most studies argue that the magic lantern, stereopticon, or gentō thrived from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries and that their use declined in the early twentieth century with the arrival of the motion picture. This article examines the revival and redevelopment of gentō in mid-twentieth-century Japan, focusing on its use in 1950s social movements (including labor, social welfare, and political protest movements) and exploring how independent gentō works represented the landscapes, histories, and everyday lives threatened by the presence of U.S. military forces in Japan. It also examines the representation of female gender and sexuality in these gentō works, looking at the ways they depict women as both symbols of a victimized and humiliated homeland and as threats to the order of paternalistic family and society in Japan.
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