Honors | Medieval Cultures
M200 | 8328 | Sheila Lindenbaum


Towards the end of the twelfth century, a Japanese aristocrat,
lamenting the ruin he observed around him, sighed, "How few are the
houses that were there of old. Great houses have crumbled into
hovels and those who dwell in them have fallen no less.  Truly it
has become a warrior's world."

In this course we'll take a less despairing look at the samurai and
their world. One of Japan's most recognizable figures, the follower
of the "way of the bow and arrow," has become an icon capable of
standing for everything from the pre-World War II military state, to
the skill and efficiency of Japanese business in the 1980s, to the
fabled stoicism and forbearance of the Japanese population. We'll
try to take apart some of the mythology surrounding the samurai by
examining the medieval origins and development of the warrior class.
We'll investigate the historical reality of warrior life along with
the legends, the war tales (with their depictions of superhuman
derring-do) and the more humble facts of warfare and training and
daily life. The elaboration of the warrior ethos will be a topic of
special concern as we investigate the ways the warrior's world found
expression in religion, art, and literature. For comparative
purposes, we'll take a brief look at Europe and the mythology and
ethos of the figure of the knight.

The course carries Intensive Writing credit, so you can expect to do
a lot of writing (and rewriting); credit is given only for MEST M200
or EALC E203 on this topic.

COAS Intensive Writing Section

This course has been approved for Cultural Studies credit.