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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Undergraduate Course: Images of Japan in French and Francophone Culture from the 19th to the 21st century (ELCF10077)

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 option will explore the stylistic and thematic characteristics of engagement with Japan in 19th, 20th, and 21st-century French and Francophone literature (novels, diaries, poetry, travel writing) and visual culture (painting, photography, graphic novel, film). Specific tutorials will focus on a selection of the following themes and topics: impressionist painting and 19th-century Japanophilia in Western culture and literature; exoticism, orientalism, and japonism; the Japoniste "aestheticentric" poetics of modernism; the reception in France of Japanese crafts, visual arts and traditional poetry and theatre; appropriation, circulation and dissemination of literary tropes and meanings; still and moving images of postmodern Japan; tourism and the demise of the exotic; artistic and literary responses to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Course description Academic description

Since the (re)opening of Japan to the West in the mid-19th century, many French and Francophone writers and artists have been fascinated by this country and tended to respond to its refined art and culture in an aestheticising and exoticist manner, emphasising phenomena they considered strange and extraordinary (for instance, Pierre Loti, Edmond Goncourt, and numerous impressionist painters). This fascination has continued from post-World War II up to the present, but focus tends to have shifted towards the "infra-ordinary", towards banal and even trivial aspects of everyday life in Japan. One of the aims of this option is to explore the causes that led to this shift of focus, via a chronological survey of the French enduring fascination with Japan since the 19th century.
This course will analyse images of (and responses to) Japan in French and Francophone culture of the 19th, 20th, and 21st century, focussing especially on visual culture, Japanese aesthetics having had a major influence in this domain. A wide range of primary sources will therefore be discussed: paintings; films; photo-texts; graphic novels; literary works (novels, diaries, poetry, travel writing). A selection of the following themes and topics will be covered: Franco-Japanese intercultural relations; gender-related issues (the feminisation of Japan in Japoniste texts); the reception in France and other Francophone countries of Japanese crafts, visual arts (especially the woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e) and traditional poetry (tanka, haiku) and theatre (bunraku, noh, kabuki); the representation of ordinary objects and daily practices, and of (post)modern urban spaces (especially Tokyo); genre (travel writing). Relevant theoretical references about the history of Orientalism, (inter)cultural representations and identities, post-colonialism and post-modernism will also be introduced to allow students to engage in critical debates about the Japoniste and Neo-Japoniste works considered.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: French 2 Literature and Culture (ELCF08012) AND French 2 Language (ELCF08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  18
Course Start Semester 1
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***

Presentation (30%)
Essay (70%)
Feedback » In-class feedback and active learning: each contact hour will provide opportunity for class discussion and feedback on the development of ideas and comprehension.
» Continuous/formative feedback: students will regularly be divided into groups and asked to read and discuss a primary work or a theoretical article, and/or to prepare short presentations on particular topics either during the seminars or in preparation for the seminars. These discussions and presentations will provide the opportunity for in-class feedback on a weekly basis.
» Summative feedback: the essay, discussion boards and oral presentation will provide the opportunity for students to display their knowledge of the topics studied. The coursework will be marked and will include feedback from the course organiser. Feedback will also be provided on essay plans.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of a range of genre-specific productions (novels, poetry, travel-writing, paintings, films, photographs) from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 21st century in their historical and cultural contexts
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks needed to analyse the primary works studied
  3. Select and apply relevant theoretical and methodological approaches in the critical evaluation of primary sources (literary texts, films and images)
  4. Assess and synthesise primary and secondary sources and to engage critically with these sources
  5. Construct coherent arguments which engage effectively with the sources and the relevant contexts and to present them with a high level of clarity in both oral and written form
Reading List
Primary Sources


Dossier of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings provided in class by the tutor


Pierre Loti, Madame Chrysanthème (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1947 [1887])

Paul Claudel, Connaissance de l'Est, suivi de L'Oiseau noir dans le soleil levant (Paris: Gallimard, 1929)

Michaël Ferrier, Fukushima. Récit d'un désastre (Paris: Gallimard, 2012)


Roland Barthes, L'Empire des signes (Genève: Skira, 1970)

Chris Marker, Le Dépays (Paris: Herscher, 1982)

(Graphic novel)

Frédéric Boilet and Benoît Peeters, Tokyo est mon jardin (Tournai: Casterman, 1997)


Alain Corneau, Stupeur et tremblements (2003)

Chris Marker, Sans Soleil (1983)

Essential Secondary Reading

Ferrier, Michaël, Japon: la barrière des rencontres (Nantes: Cécile Defaut, 2009)

Forest, Philippe, La Beauté du contresens et autres essais sur la littérature japonaise (Nantes: Cécile Defaut, 2005)

Karatani, Kojin, "Uses of Aesthetics: After Orientalism", Boundary Two, vol. 25, n°2 (1998), pp. 145-60

Kawakami, Akane, Travellers' Visions: French Literary Encounters with Japan, 1887-2004 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005)

Walsh Hokenson, Jan, Japan, France, and East-West Aesthetics: French literature, 1867-2000 (Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004)

Further Secondary Reading

Arlyck, Elisabeth, "Le défi du japonisme: Jean-Philippe Toussaint", in Fabien Arribert-Narce, Kohei Kuwada and Lucy O'Meara (eds), Réceptions de la culture japonaise en France depuis 1945. Paris-Tokyo-Paris: détours par le Japon (2016), pp. 229-46

Boilet, Frédéric, L'Apprenti Japonais (Bruxelles: Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2006)

Bongie, Chris, Exotic Memories: Literature, Colonialism, and the fin de siècle (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991)

Bouvier, Nicolas, Le Vide et le plein: carnets du Japon 1964-1970 (Paris: Gallimard, 2009)

Breuer, Karin, Japanesque: the Japanese Print in the Era of Impressionism (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2010)

Buci-Glucksmann, Christine, L'Esthétique du temps au Japon: du zen au virtuel (Paris: Galilée, 2001)

Butor, Michel, Le Japon depuis la France: un rêve à l'ancre (Paris: Hatier, 1995)

DeVonyar, Jill, and Richard Kendall (eds), Degas and the Art of Japan (Yale University Press, 2007)

Ferrier, Michaël, Le Goût de Tokyo (Paris: Mercure de France, 2008)

--, Tokyo, petits portraits de l'aube (Paris: Gallimard, 2004)

--(ed), La Tentation de la France, la tentation du Japon: Regards croisés (Arles: Philippe Picquier, 2002)

--, and Christian Doumet (eds), Penser avec Fukushima (Nantes: Cecile Defaut, 2016)

Forsdick, Charles, Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity: Journeys between Cultures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Forest, Philippe, Sarinagara (Paris: Gallimard, 2006)

Gebhardt, Lisette, and Yûki Masami (eds), Literature and Art After "Fukushima": Four Approaches (EB-Verlag, 2014)

Gegerias, Mary, "Review of Stupeur et tremblements", The French Review, vol. 74, n°4 (2001), pp. 846-47

Guth, Christine, Alicia Volk and Emiko Yamanashi (eds), Japan & Paris: Impressionism, Postimpressionism, and the Modern Era (Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2004)

Ha, Marie-Paule, Figuring the East: Segalen, Malraux, Duras, and Barthes (Albany: SUNY Press, 2000)

Ives, Colta, The Great Wave: The Influence of Japanese Woodcuts on French Prints (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974)

Lambourne, Lionel, Japonisme: Cultural Crossings between Japan and the West (London: Phaidon, 2005)

Laut, François, Aï (l'amour): impressions japonaises (Paris: Le Serpent à plumes, 2006)

Leuthold, Steven, Cross-cultural Issues in Art: Frames for Understanding (New-York: Routledge, 2011)

Lévi-Strauss, Claude, L'Autre Face de la lune: écrits sur le Japon (Paris: Seuil, 2011)

Loti, Pierre, Japoneries d'Automne (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1889)

--, La Troisième Jeunesse de Madame Prune (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1905)

Lowe, Lisa, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991)

Lupton, Catherine, Chris Marker: Memories of the Future (London: Reaktion, 2005)

Macé, Gérard, Kyoto. Un monde qui ressemble au monde (Paris: Marval, 2000)

--, Un détour par l'Orient (Paris: Gallimard, 2001)

--, "Un détour par le Japon: entretien avec Gérard Macé", in Fabien Arribert-Narce, Kohei Kuwada and Lucy O'Meara (eds), Réceptions de la culture japonaise en France depuis 1945. Paris-Tokyo-Paris : détours par le Japon (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2016), pp. 179-200

Marker, Chris, Tokyo Days (film, 1988)

Mayaux, Catherine (ed), France-Japon: regards croisés. Echanges littéraires et mutations culturelles (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007)

Nappier, Susan, From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Cult in the Mind of the West (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Nothomb, Amélie, Hygiène de l'assassin (Paris: Le Livre de poche, 2004)

--, Stupeur et tremblements (Paris: Le Livre de poche, 2001)

--, Ni d'Eve, ni d'Adam (Paris: Albin Michel, 2007)

--, La Nostalgie heureuse (Paris: Albin Michel, 2013)

O'Meara, Lucy, "Jacques Roubaud's Rejection of Japoniste Influence: Tokyo Infra-ordinaire", in Thomas Baldwin, James Fowler and Ana de Medeiros (eds), Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 166-79

Perec, Georges, L'Infra-ordinaire (Paris: Seuil, 1989)

Pérol, Jean, Le Soleil se couche à Nippori (Paris: La Différence, 2007)

--, Tokyo (Paris: Champ Vallon, 1993)

Pinguet, Maurice, Le Texte Japon (Paris: Seuil, 2009)

Porter, Dennis, Haunted journeys: Desire and Transgression in European Travel Writing (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991)

Reyns-Chikuma, Chris, Images du Japon en France et ailleurs: entre japonisme et multiculturalisme (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2005)

Roubaud, Jacques, Tokyo infra-ordinaire (Paris: L'Inventaire, 2005)

--, Mono no aware, le Sentiment des choses, cent quarante-trois poèmes empruntés au japonais (Paris: Gallimard, 1970)

Said, Edward, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978)

Scott, David H. T., Semiologies of Travel: from Gautier to Baudrillard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Segalen, Victor, Essai sur l'exotisme (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 1999)

Sheringham, Michael, Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Todorov, Tzvetan, Nous et les autres: la réflexion française sur la diversité humaine (Paris: Seuil, 1989)

Topping, Margaret, Eastern Voyages, Western Visions: French Writing and Painting of the Orient (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2004)

Vollmar, Rob, "Frédéric Boilet and the Nouvelle Manga Revolution", World Literature Today, vol. 81, n°2, Graphic Literature (2007), pp. 34-41
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will have further developed their skills in the areas of research and enquiry, personal and intellectual autonomy, communication, and personal effectiveness.
KeywordsOrientalism,intermediality,French Literature and Visual Culture (19th-21st century),Japanism
Course organiserDr Fabien Arribert-Narce
Tel: (0131 6)50 8414
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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