East Asian Languages and Cultures | Japanese Detective Fiction
E201 | 28014 | Key
Since its nineteenth-century beginnings, detective fiction has been
very popular in Japan. Although stories of crime and mystery are
perhaps most valued for the pleasurable distraction they provide,
they also reveal a great deal about a society’s fears, often
mirroring the headlines in their choice of villains and crimes. In
this course we will explore how trends in detective, mystery, and
crime stories offer clues to what has troubled Japanese society most
during the twentieth century. Our examination of the evolution of
the genre will take us from grotesque and fantastical tales, to
realistic stories that function as social critique, to
postmodern “anti-detective” novels. By considering how these texts
represent contemporary concerns, such as sexual anxieties, fear of
new technology, political corruption, and economic instability, we
will see to what extent detective fiction provides a sense of
rationality, justice, and closure in an otherwise uncertain and
alienating world. We will consider the texts in terms of their
aesthetic, ideological, and socio-historical dimensions and will
also discuss popular culture adaptations of the detective story in
film and manga.
Class attendance and participation (10%) Participation includes
writing several short response papers to aid in discussion.
Three quizzes (20% each) Quizzes will be a combination of
identification questions, short answers, and essay questions.
Take-home final exam (30%) Final exam will be essay questions.