East Asian Languages and Cultures | 20th Century Japanese Culture
E271 | 26230 | Jones


This is an introductory course on Japan’s culture in the 20th
century and beyond.  Although the course is arranged more or less in
a chronological order, its purpose is not a historical survey of the
genres of culture.  Instead, the course will consider these specific
questions: What is meant by “modern” and “20th century” in culture?
What happens to a culture when a foreign political system, such as
democracy, is imported?  What effect has the A-bomb experience had
on Japan’s culture?  How has the rapid economic growth during the
80s and the financial failure during the 90s affected traditional
arts or created a new culture?  What is the nature of the current
youth culture, and what is its relationship with established social
values?  Has America taught Japan anything?  Has Japan taught
America anything?

Students are encouraged to participate in class discussion to bring
in their own perspectives as the course consistently compares
Japanese views and practices with American counterparts.  Following
introductory lectures on the cultural history of Japan, the course
will be divided roughly into four parts: 1) encountering the west:
modernization of Japan during the 19th century; 2) individualism and
awareness of nation and culture during the early 20th century, 3)
World War II and its aftermath, and, 4) the “economic animal” and
after (popular culture of the 80s and 90s).

Cultural “products” to be studied will include both “high”
and “popular” categories of culture and representing such genres as
literature, painting, film, music, dance, theater, comic strips,
journalistic writings, advertisements, and some types of shows and
festivals.  Many of the materials are in the form of sound tapes,
video and film strips, and slides.  In addition, there will be, on
the average, 50 pages of reading per week not only in literary texts
but also in materials representing various images of, and responses
to, Japanese society and culture.  Since feature films are too long
for the class session, students are required to attend two film
screenings outside the class hours.

There will be two essay quizzes and midterm and final examinations.
Grades will be calculated as follows: 10% for each essay, 30% for
midterm, 40% for final, and 10% for class participation (near
perfect attendance and outstanding discussion). In order to maintain
a high level of quality and intensity in class discussion and
writing, the enrollment for this course is limited to 20.