Japanese Studies Courses

JS501 Modern Japanese Visual Culture Using a very useful anthology, titled Philosophers on Art from Kant to Postmodernists, as the primary textbook, this course will introduce students to a range of philosophical (aesthetic) theories from the modern to contemporary periods while paying particular attention to how they provided various new possibilities of analysis and interpretation for art historians, critics, and/or artists. But the implications of this review are not limited to the field of art history and visual culture. Since the philosophers on the reading list invariably address the problem of representation in its wider sense (linguistic, visual, political, etc.), the theoretical insights the students will learn in this class can be meaningfully related to a wide range of academic disciplines and research projects. Therefore, although readings and discussions are predominantly about visual images, students are encouraged to take up other types of objects or texts for their investigations. Furthermore, the class is not simply about applying the readymade theories to objects of investigation. Students are also encouraged to examine the limits and the possible coalescence of those theories by closely examining the material specificities of their objects of investigation. Hayashi
JS504 Japanese Art History This seminar will explore the life, thought, and image production of the monk Myōe 明恵 (1173-1232). Hirasawa
JS505 Modern Japanese Art History This course examines the history of and the theoretical foundations for the praxes of art history that seek to identify a framework to study visual creativity, expressions and forms beyond specific cultural contexts and national traditions. Such transcultural interest has always been at the core of the discipline of art history. While art history has primarily been practiced as a history of a specific "national" tradition, the very concept of "art" in fact depends on its alleged universality. The discipline cannot claim theoretical coherence or academic relevance if art turned out to be a mere "local" product applicable only to showcase the excellence and dominance of particular peoples and times (i.e. post-Renaissance Western Europe and culminating in the 20th-century avant-garde). As a matter of fact, some scholars have declared the crisis even the end of art history, in part for this reason of anachronism. We will look at the origin of art history (and its transcultural narratives) in the texts by philosophers such as Hegel, examine the critical moments of convergence between universalism and modernism in figures such as Roger Fry and Andre Malraux, and study the more contemporary responses of art historians to the postmodern(ist) and postcolonial reformulations of cultural connected-ness in the work of David Summers, Hans Belting, James Elkins, and others. The course will be of interest to those students interested in the historiography of and theoretical debates within art history. A detailed syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class. If you need further information about the course before the first day of class, please contact the professor . Murai
JS507 Critical Theory in Media and Cultural Studies This course will introduce graduate students to the critical theories in media and cultural studies, ranging from culturalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality, postcolonialism to postmodernism. Theories of media and cultural studies critically contextualizes, examines, and theorizes culture as it influences and shapes our everyday lives and social structures. Graduate students will learn about the various approaches on how to analyze culture based on the canonical works of critical theorists and learn how to apply their critical theories to contemporary examples. Choo
JS509 Interpretations of Modernity 2 This course will focus on the work of Natsume Soseki in the context, literary history and the development of Japan as a modern nation. Even though English translations are available, students must be willing to invest a substantial amount of time to improve their reading of the primary text. Yiu
JS510 Contemporary Japanese Literature The purpose of this course will be to explore the process and structure of "identity" in contemporary Japanese literature as expressed in three key contemporary writers. Our focus will be on texts that highlight fragmented or disrupted identity, the presence of other worlds, different modes of consciousness, history and memory. Our reading list will include Oe Kenzaburo, Murakami Haruki, Ogawa Yoko, as well as a variety of theorists. Strecher
JS517 Religion and Japanese Society This course explores the religious traditions of Japan and their social and cultural impact. One of the most important developments in the field of religious studies in recent decades has been the so-called “somatic turn”—an increased attention to the role of the human body in religion and the role that religious ideas, practices, and institutions have had in shaping knowledge about and experiences of the body. Accordingly, this course will devote special attention to the question of how Japanese religion has affected perceptions of the body and the role of the body in Japanese religion. It will trace the effects of religiously-informed perceptions of the body on the development of folk medical knowledge, bioethical reasoning, attitudes toward death and dying, the construction of gender, the formation of outcast groups, and various other social practices. Drott
JS518 Comparative Literature 1 Comparative Literature 1 and 2 introduce students to selected issues in comparative literature. Comparative Literature 1, offered in the spring, focuses upon methodological and theoretical issues about a specific theme. All readings (primary and secondary) are available in English. This year, we will consider theories of translation and world literature. Students will read theoretical texts in translation studies and world literature, keeping in mind implications in Japanese Studies. While the theoretical texts covered in the course are mostly literary and philosophical, students who specialize in disciplines other than literature or philosophy are also welcome. Kono
JS519 Comparative Literature 2 Comparative Literature 1 and 2 introduce students to selected issues in comparative literature. Comparative Literature 2, offered in the autumn, focuses upon reading of selected primary and secondary texts related to reading Japanese literature in comparative perspective. All readings are available in English. This year, we will consider the issues of translation, multilingualism and plurilingualism in modern Japan. We will discuss the crucial role of translation in the development of modern Japanese literature (both from Japanese and to Japanese) and the issues of multilingualism and plurilingualism in modern and contemporary Japanese literature. Kono
JS520 Pre-Modern Japanese Literature 1 This course is a graduate seminar in pre-modern Japanese literature. The content will be designed around the research needs of the students interested in taking the class. Past topics have included the following: general surveys of pre-modern Japanese literature; literary representations of gender and sexuality; warriors and warrior culture; imperial court poetry and prose. Thompson