East Asian Languages and Cultures | Mid-Twentieth Century Japan: Modernism and High Modernism
E600 | 1607 | O'Bryan


Modernism and High Modernism: The Case of Mid-Twentieth-Century Japan

This course will proceed with two guiding aims: to understand the
transnational hallmarks of twentieth-century modernism in state and
society and to consider in the instance of Japan the notion that the
transwar years from the 1920s to the 1960s ought to be taken
together as the formative period for what might be called high
modernist practices. We will read from both a broader theoretical
literature, beginning with David Harvey’s The Condition of
Postmodernity and James Scott’s Seeing Like a State. In addition, we
will read works that explore the development of modernist discourses
in their Japanese inflections, including Harry Harootunian’s
Overcome By Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar
Japan and a variety of younger scholars writing on the cultural
tension between ideals of science and intuition and on the mid-
twentieth-century romance with technocracy. No specific knowledge of
Japanese history is required to enroll, and the transnational
impulse of the course is intended as an invitation to students of
the modern period in all regions.