From ancient picture scrolls to current films, manga comics, and industrial and fashion designs, the Japanese are recognized for their skill in visual expression. More importantly, the entire history of Japan’s culture is characterized by an extraordinarily strong tendency toward conveying ideas and stories in pictures and performances rather than in words. This course will introduce students to Japanese culture through the images it has created and train them in close picture reading. The chief interests of the course are images that the Japanese have formed of themselves through interactions with other cultures. Basic materials include classical paintings, calligraphy, and theatrical spectacles as well as current films, manga, animated videos, TV programs and advertisements.
Required text books include Paul H. Varley’s Japanese Culture: A Short History, Nelly Delay’s The Art and Culture of Japan, Tezuka Osamu’s “graphic novel,” Adolf: Days of Infamy, Murakami Haruki’s novel, South of the Border, West of the Sun, and selections of essays, short stories, and other helpful materials on reserve. There will be two essay quizzes in addition to a midterm and a final examination.