East Asian Languages & Cultures | State & Self in Modern Japan
E350 | 9029 | Keirstead


This course follows the shifting relationship between state and self in
Japan from the formation of a national citizenry in the late nineteenth
century through the current concern with the "Japaneseness" of the Japanese.
What images and ideologies of the individual has the state sought to
project? How have these been received and reworked by the populace? And how,
in turn, have Japanese come to conceive of the nation and their relationship
to it?

The course will attend, therefore, to the state's attempts to shape its
subjects and with people's responses to that effort. We'll explore
alternative conceptions of the state and the individual by radicals of both
the right and the left, by democrats and artists. We'll examine, as well,
how gender roles have been defined and promulgated. The course closes in the
postwar years, with the social dislocations of the fifties and sixties and
the realization of affluence in the seventies. Throughout the course, our
concern will be to reflect on how the Japanese have constructed their
society and themselves, to see what alternative visions have been rejected
and gauge what possibilities lie ahead.

The course will combine lecture and discussion. We'll read from the works of
cultural historians, political
pundits, and novelists; we'll engage the visions of artists and view three
or four films. Requirements will include four papers on the readings, films,
and lectures, and a take-home final. There may be quizzes to keep you alert
and engaged.