East Asian Languages & Cultures | 20th Century Japanese Culture
E271 | 1519 | Jones
This is an introductory course on Japan's culture in the 20th century.
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
As much as the class size allows, 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 showings outside the class hours.
Requirements and procedures:
There will be two short quizzes and midterm and final examinations. Grades
will be calculated as follows: 10% each for quiz, 30% for midterm, 40% for
final, and 10% for class participation ("10" for perfect attendance and
outstanding discussion, "6" for perfect attendance of outstanding
discussion with 1 or 2 absences, and "3" for good attendance with 4 or
Concerning the grades of "W" and "I," the rules of the College of Arts and
Sciences will be strictly followed. (See the College Bulletin and the
Schedule of Classes for rules and deadlines.) An "I" can be given only
when a student who has maintained a good attendance record (4 or fewer
absences) and a good grade (a "B" or higher on all assignments) up to the
Tuesday of the last week of instruction, is prevented from completing the
course by sudden illness or other unavoidable cause. In this case, the
student is required to sign a contract with the instructor and compete the
final examination within the designated time span (usually within a week
after the official examination).
Natsumi Soseki, Kokoro, with two essays by the same author
Ooka Shohei, Fires on the Plain
Ibuse Masuji, Black Rain
Yoshimoto Banana, Kitchen
Readings in Twentieth-Century Japanese Culture, a packet of selected
readings, available at the Reserve desk at the Main Library and for
purchase at Collegiate Copies.