Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
FYSE 1345 - Art of Contemplation
The Art of Contemplation
What would it be like to attend to oneself, to others, and to the world with the concentration and insight of a Zen-inspired poet? How does a forest, a river, a neighborhood, or a city feel to an artist or writer in open attentiveness to the immediate environment? This course invites students to experience contemplative knowing of self and surroundings through practices of meditation, observation, journaling, photographing, and sketching. We will define contemplative knowing through our own critical engagement with essays, poems, installations, and films arising from meditative practices in ancient and modern times. Our study begins with Japanese literary and visual artists Saigyo, Basho, Buson, and Ozu. We will then explore recent examples of contemplative engagement in works by international artists Andy Goldsworthy, Olafur Eliasson, Tabaimo, and Maya Lin. We conclude with a problematical question: does contemplative observation open us to compassion for others? To probe this issue we will examine works by street photographer JR and documentary filmmaker Zana Briski. 3 hrs. sem/disc.
JAPN 0198 - Japanese Poetry (in English)
Japanese Poetry (in English)
This course examines the tradition of Japanese poetry. Beginning with the earliest recorded poems of the seventh century, we continue through to the modern period. We will examine the forms and aesthetics of poetry and its uses within fiction, diaries, and drama. All works will be read in English translation. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Spring 2012, Fall 2012
JAPN 0237 / FMMC 0237 - Japanese Film
This course traces the history of Japanese film through the cinema of Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu, Oshima and other directors. We will focus on the golden age of the 1950s, the New Wave of the sixties, and films of the 1990s and 2000s. Films include Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Tokyo Story, as well as influential works by current directors. 3 hrs. lect./disc. and screening
Spring 2010, Spring 2011
JAPN 0260 / FMMC 0260 - Kurosawa
Kurosawa (in English)
Akira Kurosawa is internationally recognized as one of the great auteurs of cinema. His visually stunning samurai films made him famous worldwide, but some of his most compelling works deal with crime and corruption in modern society. Whether set in the past or the present, each of his films tells a story about an unlikely hero who finds himself grappling with an enduring human question: What personal sacrifices must we make for the good of others? What is bravery and where does it come from? How do we achieve our own identity? Is goodness possible in an evil world? Students will explore and debate these issues as we analyze Kurosawa’s storytelling style and cinematic techniques in a dozen films spanning his fifty-year career, including Drunken Angel, Seven Samurai, Ikiru and Kagemusha. 3 hrs. lect./ 3 hrs. screen.
JAPN 0262 / FMMC 0262 - Politics of Animation
The Politics of Animation: Documentary, Propaganda, Art
In this course we will examine films in an emerging international genre known as animated documentary. Animation plays a surprisingly influential role in nonfiction films, as in a famous segment in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. More recently, some directors have relied solely on animation to make films with claims to telling the truth. Often politically controversial and intensely personal, these works challenge traditional definitions of cinematic form. Why is animation so persuasive? To answer this question we will explore the urban origins of early cartoons, Disney’s global hegemony, Warner Brothers’ wartime propaganda, Soviet agitprop, and the diverse ideological perspectives of limited animation in Japanese anime and American television programming. With this preparation in hand, we will analyze several animated non-fictions in their cultural and political contexts, including the artworks of William Kentridge (South Africa), Barefoot Gen (Japan), Persepolis (France/Iran), and Waltz with Bashir (Israel). 3 hrs. lect./ 3hrs. screen.
JAPN 0290 - The Tale of Genji (in English) ▹
The Tale of Genji (in English)
/The Tale of Genji/ is the world’s first psychological novel. This rich narrative centers on the political intrigues and passionate love affairs of Genji, a fictional prince barred from the throne. In this course we will explore the narrative through a close reading in English translation. Students will gain knowledge of the aesthetic, religious, and social contexts of the Heian period, one of the most vibrant eras in Japanese culture. We will also trace how Genji monogatari has been interpreted over ten centuries in art, theater, films, and most recently, manga. (Formerly JAPN 0190) 3hrs. lect/disc.
Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014
JAPN 0450 - Seminar in Classical Japanese ▹
Seminar in Classical Japanese, Heian Period
The Heian period marks the high point of literary Japanese. In this seminar students will learn to read and translate the original classical language (bungo) in canonical works of fiction, poetry, and diaries from the 9th through the 12th century. We will discuss how self-expression emerged in Japanese writing and how subjectivity developed in fiction and poetic journals. Students will gain a solid grounding in early literary history and will master the orthography, vocabulary, and basic structures of the pre-modern language. Our readings will include Taketori monogatari, Genji monogatari, Sarashina nikki, and Hyakunin isshu. (Approval only) 3 hrs. sem.
Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014
JAPN 0451 - Seminar in Classical Japanese
Seminar in Classical Japanese, Medieval to Edo Period
Samurai ideals and Buddhist thought coalesced in Medieval texts that continue to form the core of Japanese culture. In this seminar students will learn to read and translate the original classical language (bungo) in essays, warrior tales, and travel diaries from the 13th through the 17th century. We will discuss how Buddhist philosophy and samurai principles evolved into aesthetic values for aspiring urbanites in the Edo period. Students will gain knowledge of traditional writings familiar to contemporary Japanese readers and will master the orthography, vocabulary, and basic structures of the pre-modern language. Our readings will include the Hojoki, Heike monogatari, and Bashō's Oku no hosomichi. (Approval only) 3 hrs. sem.
JAPN 0475 - Seminar in Japanese Studies
Advanced Reading in Japanese Studies
In this course students will read original materials in a variety of disciplines and develop skills to discuss them in Japanese on a near-native level. Advanced listening practice and literary translation will also be emphasized. Students will create an annotated research bibliography in preparation for the senior project or thesis. This course is required before taking JAPN 0700, but any student may enroll with approval of the instructor. (Approval only) 3 hrs. disc.
JAPN 0500 - Independent Project ▹
Qualified students may be permitted to undertake a special project in reading and research under the direction of a member of the department. Students should seek an advisor and submit a proposal to the department well in advance of registration for the term in which the work is to be undertaken.
Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
JAPN 0700 - Honors Thesis ▹
Students write a thesis in English with a synopsis in Japanese on literature, film, or culture. The topic for the thesis is chosen in consultation with the instructor. (JAPN 0475)
Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015