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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Undergraduate Course: Thinking Through Japan (ASST08040)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course uses authentic Japanese materials in translation, narrative films, documentary, anime, short stories, performance, biography, art, photography as catalysts for debate and discussion about a number of key topics in Japanese history, society and culture.
Course description Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Nation
Week 3: Elements of Japanese Culture (Conference Preparation)
Week 4: Experiences of War
Week 5: Responses to Peace
Week 6: Gender and Performance
Week 7: Youth and Fashion
Week 8: Religion, Identity and Violence
Week 9: Modernity and Nostalgia
Week 10: Japanese Futures
Week 11: Conference Presentations

The word 'Japan' immediately conjures images of refined aesthetic beauty or high-tech metropolitan sprawl. Furthermore, western representations tend to play to these stereotypes to produce a Japanese nation as 'other', radically different and seemingly unknowable. This course has been designed to scratch away at the surface of these essentialising representations by enabling students to think through Japan via the situated perspectives of Japanese artists, filmmakers and writers.

Therefore, this course will use authentic Japanese materials in translation - narrative films, documentary, anime, short stories, performance, biography, art, photography - as a catalyst for debate and discussion about a number of key analytical concepts. Although the primary referent and object of analysis is the particular case of Japan, the course will also foster in students critical awareness of the uses and abuses of concepts such as culture, history, nation and gender that can be transferred to a number of different subject areas. As such this course will appeal to intending Japanese honours students and as well as outside students. It should be noted that intending Japanese honours students will be given priority over outside students in the case of over-subscription.

Taking an approach inspired by cultural studies, the course will be dynamic and student led, with the aim of producing a space for students to challenge stereotypical representations and commonsense uses of terms by bringing together academic research and authentic material. This approach is reflected in delivery of the course and assessment, which places emphasis on class participation and student run projects.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically appraise a range of core issues in modern Japanese history, culture and society
  2. Evaluate and use a wide range of primary sources when analysing Japanese society and culture
  3. Situate Japanese social issues within the context of regional and global trends
  4. Conduct autonomous research and communicate arguments effectively in written form
  5. Devise, conduct and present collaborative research
Reading List

Coppola, S. 2004. Lost in Translation. DVD. Hollywood: Momentum Pictures.

Imamura, S. The Insect Woman. DVD. New York: Criterion.

Kon, I. 1983. The Makioka Sisters. DVD. New York: Criterion.

Kon, I. 1959. Fires on the Plain. DVD. New York: Criterion.

Koreeda, H. 1998. After Life. DVD. Tokyo: Soda Pictures.

Kurosawa, A. 1955. I Live in Fear. DVD. Tokyo: T¿h¿.

Mizoguchi, K. 1953. Ugetsu. DVD. Tokyo: Masters of Cinema.

Mizoguchi, K. 1952. DVD. The Life of Oharu. Tokyo: Shin T¿h¿.

Nakashima, T. Kamikaze Girls. DVD. Tokyo: Third Window.

Otomo. A. 1988. Akira. DVD. London: Manga Entertainment.

Ozu, Y. 1953. Tokyo Story. DVD. London: BFI Video.

Takita, Y. 2003. When the Last Sword is Drawn. DVD. Tokyo: Shochiku.

Literature / Photograph Collections:

Aoki, S. 2001. Fruits. London: Phaidon.

Fukuzawa, Y. 2007. The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hara, T. 1990. 'From the Ruins.' In, Richard H. Minear (ed), Hiroshima: Three Witnesses. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Kerr, A. 1996. Lost Japan. London: Lonely Planet.

Mishima, Y. 1977. Confessions of a Mask. St. Albans: Panther.

Murakami, H. 2001. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. London: Vintage UK.

Murakami, T. 2005. Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Ooka, S. 1996. Taken Captive: a Japanese POW's Story. New York: J. Wiley and Sons.

Tanizaki, J. 1962. 'Tattoo'. In Ivan Morris (ed), Modern Japanese Stories: an Anthology. Rutland, V.T.: Tuttle.

Tomatsu, S. 1981. What Now?! Japan Through the Eyes of Shomei Tomatsu. Tokyo: Toeisha.

Yoshimoto, B. 1993. Kitchen. New York: Grove Press.

Academic Sources:

Dower, J. 1986. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. London: Faber.

Hijiya-Kirschnereit, I. 1996. Rituals of Self-Revelation: Shish¿setsu as Literary Genre and Socio-Cultural Phenomenon. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Kawamura. Y. 2006. 'Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion', Current Sociology, Vol. 54 (5), pp. 784 - 801.

Kelly, W. 1993. 'Finding a Place in Metropolitan Japan: Ideologies, Institutions and Everyday Life', in Andrew Gordon (ed), Postwar Japan as History. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mackie, V. 2003. Feminism in Modern Japan: Citizenship, Embodiment, and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Matthews, G. 1996. What Makes Life Worth Living? How Japanese and Americans Makes Sense of Their Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Morris-Suzuki, T. 1998. Re-inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Napier, S. 1993. 'Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira', The Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 19(2), pp. 327 - 351.

Ronald, R. and Allison, A. (eds). 2011. Home and Family in Japan: Continuity and Transformation. London: Routledge.

Sherif, A. 2009. Japan's Cold War: Media, Literature, and the Law. New York: Columbia University Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Debate, group work, essay writing, information technology, critical thinking.
Special Arrangements Student numbers for this course are capped at 25. Priority will go to students intending honours in Japanese Studies.
Study Abroad N/A
KeywordsAS Think Japan,Japan,film,art,literature,politics,society
Course organiserDr Helen Parker
Tel: (0131 6)50 4230
Course secretaryMrs Vivien MacNish Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3528
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