Honors | Transwar Japan (HON)
H236 | 29008 | George Wilson
An enchanted land known for earthquakes, fires, and samurai strife
as well as the gentle arts of zen and tea, 19th-century Japan seemed
exotic when it fell prey to the imperialist Yankee traders who broke
it open in the 1850s. By century’s end the Land of the Rising Sun
was carving out its own empire. This seminar will focus on Japan’s
fate from 1930 to 1990, six decades that include its worst natural
disaster, the Great Tokyo Earthquake of 1923, and its greatest
national tragedy, the end of the empire in 1945, when two Japanese
cities were atom-bombed and most others firebombed in the closing
days of WWII.
We’ll call this period “Transwar Japan,” denoting an era that
bridges and shares features across and beyond wartime. Linking our
own time to Japan’s quest for imperial dominion in Asia are common
themes of urban-industrial change in an evolving democratic society.
Ties between postwar Japan and its prewar roots transcend the
Pacific War (1931-45) and American Occupation (1945-52) and even the
coming of an economic “miracle” and vibrant pop culture (1960-2000).
Course requirements involve 6 paperback books and 2 feature films as
well as 3 novels that reflect social conditions. There will be 2
midterms and a 12-page paper. No final exam.