East Asian Languages and Cultures | 20th Century Japanese Culture
E271 | 1480 | 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 some specific questions: What is meant by "modern" or
"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? Has the rapid economic growth
during the 80s destroyed Japan's traditional arts? 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, 40 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.
Required texts include Natume Soseki's Kokoro; Ishimori Shotaro's comics,
Japan Inc.; Murakami Huruki's South of the Border, West of the Sun; and a
packet of shorter materials.
There will be two short quizzes and midterm and final examinations. Grades
will be calculated on the basis of scores on quizzes, exams, and class