East Asian Languages and Cultures | Topics in East Asian Studies: Sex, Romance, and Story-Telling in The Tale of Genji (Graduate Section)
E505 | 26944 | Sarra, Edith

This course open to graduate students only
This course meets with EALC-E300 on this topic

Prerequisite: No knowledge of Japanese language necessary, though
interest in, and enthusiasm for, Japanese literature is expected.
Course can be used to fulfill requirements for the major in EALC.

Course description: In this lecture/discussion course we will be
reading one of the best known (and longest) works of Japan’s
classical age of fiction, The Tale of Genji (ca. 1010).  The focus
of our reading will be the depiction of romantic and/or
sexual “love,” and the heroes and heroines whose experiences
of “love” and marriage organize the narrative.  The fundamental
questions that will structure our explorations are these: how are
fictional characters constructed in the Tale of Genji?  What kind of
a “hero/character” is Genji?  How is his image critiqued by the
other “heroes” who succeed him in the narrative?  What are the major
heroine types constructed by the Tale?  What are the basic “stories”
this influential tale uses to depict male/female relationships“?
How are these plots within the plot elaborated and modified to
entertain and to give meaning to the practice of courtship,
seduction, marriage, child-birth, and the end of love? How do the
stories told about romance and marriage in this text engage the
social and political realities of life at the early Japanese court?
To stimulate discussion of these topics we will also be reading a
number of scholarly essays, available online through JSTOR (list of
articles will be handed out).  In addition to exploring Japan’s mid
Heian period (950-1150), this course aims to teach the student basic
skills in careful reading and interpretation of literary and
critical texts which should be widely applicable to other courses in
literature, history, and related pursuits.