East Asian Languages & Cultures | Seminar in Traditional Japanese Literature
J653 | 1606 | Jones
Topic: Gender Play in Literature and Art, Japanese and Western
This course will explore the semiological fluidity of gender in Japanese
literature and arts in comparison with western examples. A "liquid"
structure is proposed as an alternative to a phallo-centric way of
thinking. Students will be briefly introduced to fundamental Japanese
thought: religious (Shintoist and Buddhist), intellectual (Confucian and
"Nativist"), political (imperial and feudal), and psychoanalytical
(Benedict, Doi, and others). Selected readings from Freud, Barthes,
Bataille, Deleuze, Butler, and others will provide theoretical grounds for
our discussion. The course itself will not take a single or cohesive
theoretical perspective but will experiment with as wide a range of
concepts as possible. Each member of the course, however, is encouraged to
develop a firm theoretical/ critical position during the semester and to
bring into class discussions his/her knowledge of a non-Japanese literature.
Topics will include: gender and homoeroticism in ancient courtly
literature, medieval no plays, and early modern ukiyoe art and literature;
trans-sexuality in theatre from early modern kabuki to current TV shows,
debates on object choice in sex manuals; androgyny and the function of
beautiful boys/girls in the arts from classics to current film and manga
comics. Primary texts will include: The Tales of Ise (a verse tale),
Pining Wind and The Well-Cradle (no plays), Saikaku's The Great Mirror of
Male Love (short stories), Sukeroku, Nanboku's Scarlet Princess and
Mokuami's Benten Boy (kabuki), Tanizaki's Quicksand, Mishima's Forbidden
Colors, and Matsuura Rieko's The Education of P. Thumb. The chief texts
from western literature are: Mann's Death in Venice, Masoch's Venus in
Furs, Barthes' S/Z. Films to be studied are Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,
M. Butterfly, Paris is Burning, and others.
No knowledge of the Japanese language or culture is needed, and readings
will be entirely in English. Works of which English translations are not
available will be introduced in excerpts translated by the
instructor and by some of the members of the course. Students registered
for J653 are required to read selected Japanese materials in the original.
Since the design of the course should reflect the special interests of
individual members, interested students are asked to talk to the instructor
as soon as possible. This course is open to graduate students only.
WARNING: Many of the texts for this course contain candid and colloquial
expressions in reference to sexual organs and acts and it is important for
the course that sexuality is discussed openly and with respect (i.e., no
euphemisms will be used). For this reason this course is strictly intended
for those students whose religious or social beliefs find no conflict with
such language and materials.
Credit given for only one of J653 and CMLT C574 on this topic.