East Asian Languages and Cultures | Sex, Romance, and Storytelling in Early Japanese Literature
E300 | 1592 | Sarra


In this lecture/discussion course we will read and analyze a
selection of the best known and most influential memoirs and
fictional tales of Japan’s golden age, among them, The Tale of Genji
(parts), The Pillow Book (excerpts), The Changelings, Confessions of
Lady Nijo, and others.  The fundamental questions that will
structure our explorations are these: How is “love” (sexual and/or
romantic) understood and what are the basic “stories” these texts
use in telling tales about “love”?  How do they play with those
stories, elaborating and modifying them to entertain and to give
meaning to the practice of courtship, seduction, marriage,
childbirth, and the end of love?  How do the stories told about
heterosexual love in these texts engage the social and political
realities of live in early Japanese aristocratic circles?  To
stimulate discussion of these topics we will also read a number of
scholarly essays on early Japanese literature, culture, religion,
and history.

This course requires an average of 200-300 pages of reading per
week.  Regular attendance, participation in full class discussions,
in-class small group discussions, and short oral presentations are
expected and will account for 35% of the semester grade.  The other
65% of the semester grade will be based on written assignments.
These will include brief 1-2 page responses to the readings, and a
couple of extended essays (6-8 pages).