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

Undergraduate Course: Literature and Performance in Modern Japan (ASST10158)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to enable students to develop their understanding, appreciation and critical awareness of literature and performance in modern Japan. For students who have previously taken Introduction to Japanese Literature (ASST08053), Modern East Asian History A (ASST08042) or Society and Culture in Premodern East Asia (ASST08052), it offers the opportunity to build on the understanding of Japanese cultural identity they have acquired through reading key literary works. However, the content is accessible to any students reading for degrees in Japanese and eligible for level 10 courses.

The focus is on works that are being read and/or performed in contemporary Japan, and their implications for the national and international arts scene. The course examines ¿traditional¿ works and forms of expression that have persisted into modern times, including those that have been reinterpreted or referenced in pieces created since the mid-nineteenth century. It also looks at works that have been written, and styles that have developed, as literary or performative responses to the trends towards modernization, westernization and globalization since 1868; and investigates how literature and theatre have inspired other forms of creative media.
Course description The course concentrates on works that are being read and/or performed in contemporary Japan, and their implications for the national and international arts scene. It will introduce the historical, cultural, social and political background to selected texts and performances.

In their study of ¿traditional¿ works and forms of expression that have persisted into modern times, students will look at examples of works that continue to be read or performed in their original form, such as haiku poetry collections and noh plays; and those that have been reinterpreted or referenced in more modern pieces created from the early Meiji period onwards.

Additionally, students will undertake detailed studies of cases where literature and theatre have inspired other creative art forms, such as film and the visual arts, with the aim of exploring how these developments inform our overall understanding of literature and the arts in Japan.

The course engages actively with questions of gender, sexuality and race in relation to Japanese cultural identity. Students are invited to consider the importance of the gender of the authors of literary works, and how this relates to specific aspects of the literary culture, such as the development of modes of self-expression in the vernacular by women, and different approaches to modernization from the perspectives of male and female authors. Issues of race are addressed in the study of contemporary literary works written in Japanese by authors who do not identify as Japanese. In the performing arts, particularly where all male or all-female casts are involved and where some actors assume different gender on and off stage, students will have the opportunity to discover more about changing attitudes to gender and sexuality, and how audiences perceive the sexual identities of both characters and performers.

Topics covered on the course may include:

Interplay between different modes of creative expression

Relationships between written literary texts and performance

Setting aesthetic traditions: background to classic literary texts that have held consistent appeal and inspired later works of art

Background to traditional Japanese performing arts: training for performers; composition and content of plays; conventions of performance; identity and role of the audience
Modernism; reform and experiment in literature and performance

Gender issues in literature and performance

Literature and performance in Japan and the world: paths to international recognition; roles and influences of translators and international scholars; dissemination of works to international readers and audiences

Students will be assigned¿weekly materials¿(a literary text or set of texts and/or audio-visual examples from a performance, and at least one analytical work such as an academic article or book chapter) with a set of questions to guide their preparation for¿a synchronous class¿discussion, to be conducted either via Teams or at an in- person session on campus, depending on the situation.

These materials will also form the basis for asynchronous digital activities to be completed after the seminars, through which students will reflect individually on the topics and interact with others.¿
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework: «br /»
«br /»
Critical review of a text or performance, 500 words 10% «br /»
«br /»
Poster presentation exercise (to be conducted asynchronously online, with an optional on-campus element where viable) 30% «br /»
«br /»
Participation mark, to be monitored through set digital activities on Learn (e.g., journal entries, discussion board comments) 10% «br /»
«br /»
Final essay 2000 words 50%
Feedback Students will receive regular feedback on the set digital activities which will support them in their preparation for the written assignments.

As the first stage of the poster presentation, students will be required to respond to a call for posters with a proposal, on which they will receive formative feedback
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate and apply knowledge of the historical and cultural background to the literary and performing arts in Japan.
  2. Understand and evaluate studies based on Japanese literary and critical traditions and approaches from international scholarship on Japanese literature and performance .
  3. Appreciate, explain and analyse different kinds of narrative and performance and place them in the general sociocultural, artistic and political context of modern Japan.
  4. Conduct independent research, think critically and present information, ideas and arguments effectively in written form and in group discussion.
Reading List
All of the required resources will be made available electronically, using existing resources.

Essential readings:

Anan, Nobuko (2016). Contemporary Japanese Women¿s Theatre and Visual Arts: Performing Girls¿ Aesthetics. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Brandon, James R and Leiter, Samuel L. (2002-3). Kabuki Plays on Stage (4 volumes). Honolulu: University of Hawai¿i Press.

Brazell, Karen (1998). Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hutchinson, Rachael and Morton, Leith (2016). Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.

Editorial Engineering Laboratory (2018). Nihon Gatari-sho: Guidelines for Narrating Japanese Culture. Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters, Cabinet Office of Japan

McDonald, Keiko I (2000). From Book to Screen: Modern Japanese Literature in Films. London: M E Sharpe.

Napier, Susan J. (1996).¿The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature: The Subversion of Modernity. London: Routledge.

Parker, Helen S E, (2006). Progressive Traditions: An Illustrated Study of Plot Repetition in Traditional Japanese Theatre. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.

Poulton, M Cody (2010). A Beggar¿s Art: Scripting Modernity in Japanese Drama, 1900-1930. Honolulu: University of Hawai¿i Press.

Powell, Brian (2002). Japan's Modern Theatre: A Century of Change and Continuity. London: Japan Library.

Salz, Jonah (2016). A History of Japanese Theatre. Cambridge University Press.

Shirane Haruo, ed. (2008) Envisioning the Tale of Genji: Media, Gender and Cultural Production. New York: Columbia University Press.

Shirane Haruo and Suzuki, Tomi (2002). Inventing the Classics: Modernity, National Identity and Japanese Literature. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Treat, John Whittier¿(2018)¿Japan is interesting: modern Japanese literary studies today,¿Japan Forum,¿30:3,¿421-440.
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.
KeywordsJapanese Literature,performance,cultural identity,gender,narrative,theatre,modern Japan,text
Course organiserDr Helen Parker
Tel: (0131 6)50 4230
Course secretaryMr Iain Harrison
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