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JAPAN 138: Introduction to Modern Japanese Literature and Culture (JAPAN 238)

This class introduces key literary texts from Japan's modern era (1868-present), locating these works in the larger political, social, and cultural trends of the period. The goal of the class is to use literary texts as a point of entry to understand the grand narrative of Japan's journey from its tentative re-entry into the international community in the 1850s, through the cataclysm of the Pacific War, the remarkable prosperity of the bubble years in the 1980s until most recent, post-3/11 catastrophe-evoked Zeitgeist.<br>We will examine a variety of primary texts by such authors as Futabatei Shimei, Higuchi Ichiyô, Natsume Sôseki, Tanizaki Jun'ichir, Miyamoto Yuriko, Kawabata Yasunari, Ôe Kenzaburô, Yoshimoto Banana, Tawada Yko, and Yu Miri among others. Each text will be discussed in detail paying attention to its specific character and contextualized within larger political trends (e.g., the modernization program of the Meiji regime, the policies of Japan's wartime government, and postwar Japanese responses to the cold war), social developments (e.g., changing notions of social class, the women's rights movement, the social effects of the postwar economic expansion, ecocriticism), and cultural movements (e.g., literary reform movement of the 1890s, modernism of the 1920s and 30s, postmodernism of the 1980s, and exophony). Students will also be encouraged to think about the ways these texts relate to each other and a variety of issues beyond the Japanese socio-cultural and historical context.<br>No prior knowledge of Japanese is required for this course, although students with sufficient proficiency are welcome to refer to original sources.<br>Prerequisites: None
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-A-II
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