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

Undergraduate Course: Introduction to Japanese Literature (ASST08053)

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 is designed to introduce students with little or no prior background in the subject to the study of Japanese literature through a selection of key texts. These will be studied using English translations, which will be the basis for all course assessments. For students enrolled on the MA Honours in Japanese degree or others interested in Japanese language, excerpts from the original texts will be made available for private study and reading practice.

The texts that form the focus for the course are all widely known and studied in Japan and are generally considered to be representative works that enhance understanding of Japanese cultural identity.
Course description The course will introduce and examine in detail a selection of key texts from both classical and modern Japanese literature which are regarded as significant to Japan's aesthetic and cultural traditions. Students will receive instruction introducing each of the texts, its author, and the historical, social and cultural background from which it emerged, and will have the opportunity to discover some of the ways in which it contributes to Japanese literary and cultural identity.

Tutorials and other course activities will concentrate on discussion of set questions about the literary texts and assigned readings (academic articles or book chapters which deal with the week's text). Students will also be encouraged to share their own responses to the literary texts.

The course content will normally be covered in chronological order and will introduce selected works in the following areas: early Japanese poetry; writing by women at the Heian court; recluse literature of the Kamakura period; haiku and haibun (haiku-related literature); the Meiji novel; stories of modernity in Taisho and early Showa Japan; Second World War literature; immediate postwar writings; contemporary literature.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Reflective diary: 250 words on each week's reading, in response to set questions and following a regular format 30%

Essay: 2,000 words 60%

Course participation 10%, to be monitored through contribution to asynchronous online activities
Feedback Students will receive regular feedback on their reflective diaries designed to support them in preparation for their tutorial presentations and essays.
There will also be a "mini-essay" formative feedback exercise in the first part of the semester.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand, explain and analyse key Japanese literary texts originating from a variety of time periods and sectors of society.
  2. Situate these texts in the context of relevant historical and social developments in Japan in order to relate them to scholarship in Japanese Studies.
  3. Conduct independent research, think critically and present information, ideas and arguments effectively in written form.
  4. Participate actively in small group discussion, convene and record proceedings.
Reading List
Course textbooks:
Keene, D. ed. (1955; 1994.) Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-nineteenth Century. New York: Grove Press.
Rimer, J.T and Gessel, V.C eds. (2011). The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: Abridged. New York: Columbia University Press.

General reading:
Basho (1966) The Narrow Read to the Deep North, tr. Yuasa, N. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Higginson, W. J. (1985) The Haiku Handbook. Tokyo: Kodansha.
Jacobson, D, Ito, S and Tsuboi, M. (2016). Are you an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko. Seattle, WA: Chin Music Press.
Kawakami, H. n.d. God Bless You 2011. Tr. Goossen, T and Shibata, M. London: Granta Magazine. Available at:
Keene, D. (1984). Dawn to the West, 2 vols. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
McClellan, E. tr. Natsume S. (1957; 2007). Kokoro. London: Peter Owen.
Miner, E.R., Morrell, R and Odagiri, H. (1985). The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and enquiry: Problem solving; analytical thinking; critical thinking; knowledge integration and application.
Personal and intellectual autonomy: Self-awareness and reflection; independent learning and development; creative and inventive thinking.
Personal effectiveness: Planning, organising and time management; team working; flexibility.
Communication: interpersonal skills, verbal and written communication.
Course organiserDr Helen Parker
Tel: (0131 6)50 4230
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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