William & Mary

Courses Offered

Please see the online schedule for the most current information about courses offered.
150. What If? Japan's Alternate Histories

 What if the Axis powers had won World War II? What if an epidemic had killed most of the men in feudal Japan? What if a modern Japanese battleship traveled back in time to the Battle of Midway? What if the Soviet Union had occupied Hokkaido at the end of World War II? Alternate histories start from such premises or “points of diversion” from the actual, emphasizing the contingent nature of past events and present conditions. These narratives appear in some of the most popular contemporary Japanese novels, film, manga, and anime. They also lend themselves to adaptation across multiple media. Why do false histories fascinate us? What else are we doing when we entertain such “What if”s? In this course, as you address these questions, you will also learn fundamental academic practices and critical approaches that will help you deepen and complicate your interest in Japanese popular culture. In English.

208. Japan's Ghosts and Demons

This course explores the supernatural world and its inhabitants as imagined in Japanese literature and visual culture from ancient times to the present day.  Our survey will take in a wide variety of fantastic phenomena, including spirit possession and exorcism in The Tale of Genji, the “hungry ghosts” of medieval Buddhist folklore,  interwar Gothic tales of the bizarre, and recent Japanese horror films such as The Ring In the process, we will consider the various roles that the supernatural has played in Japanese culture at various historical moments. In English.

307. Japanese Food Culture

Washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013. Washoku is associated with social practices that respect nature and value sustainable use of natural resources, especially locally sourced foods. In this course we will explore interrelations among food, Japanese culture, and ourselves through readings, screenings of Japanese cinemas and anime, discussions, presentations, wikis and a hands-on cooking class. Classroom activities will focus on how washoku initially strengthened social cohesion among the Japanese people by providing a sense of identity, belonging, and respect for human creativity, the environment, healthy eating and inspired food preparation. Then students will examine recent change to the Japanese diet in order to critique modern Japan and modern life. Most class discussions, readings, and writings will be in Japanese, which will help improve speaking, reading and writing skills. This course is designed for students who have completed JPN300, 301, 305 or equivalent, with the instructor's permission.

308. Anime Fictions

Anime has become Japan’s most important cultural export, circulating widely through the global market in popular culture over the past two decades.  In this course, we will review the historical development of anime as a technology, medium, and genre(s).  We will consider the contribution of  major studios such as Ghibli, Gainax, and Production I.G., and contemporary directors such as Miyazaki Hayao, Oshii Mamoru, Kon Satoshi, and Makoto Shinkai. We will trace some of the themes that have preoccupied anime artists, including gender, technology, and the post-human, and how these themes relate to the conditions of post-industrial capitalism. We will also analyze the development of characters and worlds that extend across several media, as well as the related phenomena of participatory fandom and otaku subjectivity. In English.

309. Classical Japanese Literature in English Translation

This course is a survey of classical Japanese literature from the earliest times to the eighteenth century, with special emphasis on the communal production/consumption of literature. The goals for this course are fourfold: (a) to learn about significant premodern Japanese writers, texts, and genres in the context of Japanese cultural history; (b) to become better readers of Japanese literary texts by bringing to your reading increased alertness and knowledge; (c) to gain a comparative perspective on world literature and thus increase your sense of the possibilities of literature; d) to develop critical reading, communication, and thinking skills in the context of an intellectual community.

310. Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature in English Translation

This course provides an introduction to Japanese literature of the early modern and modern periods (1700-present). We will be reading some of Japan's most famous novels, short stories, and plays. Topics for discussion include: the relationship between the premodern and the modern, modern love and the modern self, East-West relations, 1920s experimentalism, narratives of self-expression, wartime fiction, literature of the outcaste and marginalized, and new trends in contemporary fiction. We will also discuss the cultural and historical situations in which these texts were written. Through these discussions and readings, you will develop the critical skills necessary to analyze and write about this literary tradition. In English. Students with advanced language skills may, with the consent of the instructor, take a 4th credit (one additional hour per week) for reading and discussion of the texts in Japanese.

311. Japanese Cinema: Canon and Cult

Highbrow, lowbrow, no brow ... this fall's survey of Japanese cinema gives equal attention to artistic masterpieces and cult classics. On one side is "the canon"--the vaunted list of "great" Japanese films esteemed by critics and frequently featured in college courses like this one. On the other are "pop" films--cult movies, B-pictures, and blockbusters that were popular with the average Japanese moviegoer throughout the decades. By pairing one canonical film with one popular film from six familiar genres--period samurai film, family drama, women's film, yakuza gangster pictures, science fiction, and animated fantasy--a fuller, more balanced picture of Japanese cinema emerges. We'll rethink our assumptions about such filmic terms as "genre," "art film," "cult film," and "national cinema," and endeavor to engage more fully and critically with the uniquely modern, transcultural phenomenon of the moving image. In English.

320. The Japanese City

This course examines changes in both the historical development and the theoretical conceptualization of the city and urban life in Japan. The class will begin with the early merchant and industrial capital, Osaka, and the political capital, Edo/Tokyo. It also explores some of Japan's colonial enclaves, such as Shanghai, Dalian, and Keijo (colonial Seoul) during the 1930s. The class analyzes representations of the city in literature and film, as well as architecture and city planning. We look at representations of the city as a whole, as well as specific neighborhoods. Themes include: modernity, nationalism, and empire; the production of national and local identity; the city as a space of class boundaries, consumer culture, and the clash of old and new. In English.

340. Pop Culture and Nationalism in Millenial Japan

The economic bubble crashed in 1990s Japan, and the nation plunged into a recession and an age of unrest with unforeseen social problems such as brutal childmurders, bullying, school nonattendance, compensated dating, and self-mutilation. Japanese began to question their national identity asapathetic youth showed a lack of political awareness unknown to the postwargeneration. Recently there has been a rise in nationalist sentiment which istaking place in the realm of popular culture, as Japanese embrace theunapologetic identity offered by right-wing revisionists. This course deals with theoretical ideas of how to define culture via structures such as nationalism and national identity. Through novels, manga-comics, online articles, as well as theoretical readings, this class examines the intersection of popular culture and nationalism, and questions both the efficacy of popular culture as a vehicle for the nationalist message and the viability of the resulting political imagination. In English.

411. Independent Study

Students interested in pursuing language or literature studies beyond the course offerings should contact Professor Cronin, or one of the Japanese language instructors.

Japanese Language

The Japanese program offers four full years of language study using a communicative approach. Students focus on all four skills (speaking, reading, writing, listening) in order to maximize their proficiency in the language. There are many opportunities to use Japanese on campus, and students are encouraged to live in the Japan House and to study abroad, either for a semester or on a year-long program.

Our students participate in the annual Japanese Speech Contest held on W&M's campus and then the finalists go on to compete with students from area schools at Duke University.

Language training is an integral component of the East Asian Studies programs, and students interested in a Concentration (major) or Minor are encouraged to begin their language study as early as possible in their academic careers.

JAPN 101, 102

This course is an introduction to the basic structure of the Japanese language, including grammar, pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Approximately 60 kanji, or Chinese characters are introduced. The second semester, JAPN 102, assumes knowledge of both phonetic alphabets, hiragana and katakana, and approximately 90 kanji, or Chinese characters. By the end of 102 students will know approximately 150 kanji characters, and will be able to order food at a Japanese restaurant, introduce themselves in a professional situation, extend and decline invitations, and talk about their families and childhood experiences.

Text: Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I 

JAPN 201, 202

This course is designed to extend the student's listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. It especially focuses on strengthening functional ability to communicate in Japanese beyond the survival level. This course also allows the student to be familiar with different styles and levels of speech including formal and informal speech, men's and women's speech, and Keigo or honorifics. In addition, approximately 180 Kanji will be learned.

Text: Genki II: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese II

JAPN 301, 302

This course is designed to further develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills to acquire more natural use of the Japanese language. Advanced classroom drills, audio and video taped materials, and reading both extensive and intensive texts provide systematic practice in increasingly complex discourses. The course also includes discussions and presentations in the class, and interviews with native Japanese to enhance the students' learning.

Text: Tobira

JAPN 401, 402

This course focuses on the development of effective communicative skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Culturally appropriate oral communication skills to handle different situations are emphasized. Students are introduced to various authentic materials (newspaper articles, videos, essays) and computer aided communication. This course also includes speeches, discussions, oral presentations and the writing of a research paper on topics related to present-day Japan.