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Courses Offered

Please see the online schedule for the most current information about courses offered.
150. Freshman Seminar

These courses are taught in English and are meant to explore specific topics in Japanese literary and cultural studies for the purpose of introducing them to freshmen. Normally the 150W courses are available only to freshmen and satisfy the lower-level writing requirement. Topics can change by semester. Those covered in the past include: Japanophilia; Images of Japan in American Popular Culture; and Japan in the World: Cross-cultural Encounters in Literature.

280. Asian Cultures Through Film

This is an introduction to Asian cultures and societies through the modern and contemporary film of China, Taiwan, and Japan. The class takes a cross-cultural approach by looking at various social, political, and cultural themes as they vary across time and across Asian countries. This course examines transitions occurring in cultural, social and political institutions as Asian nations and peoples modernized over the last 200 years. The readings and class lectures will provide a context for the film and give an overview of broader historical issues affecting Asia in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. These introductions will be followed up by a more detailed analysis and reflection in the discussion sections. Students will also write short papers on each unit, incorporating their input on the film, readings and lectures.

Each class unit will revolve around a topic which will be introduced and analyzed through films and readings from a variety of disciplines ranging from the historical to the literary. Topics include transitions occurring in Asian countries in the following areas: family practices, individual vs. society, modernization and conflict with tradition, social customs, politics, war, and women's roles. The cross-cultural approach allows students to compare cultural change in a number of Asian societies and get a broader view of the commonalities and specifics of the region and the ways in which they interact and conflict.

308. Topics

Courses under this heading provide an in-depth study of a major author, genre, period, or theme in Japanese literature and cultural studies not covered by regular course offerings. Recent topics have included: Fictions of Desire: The Demimonde in Japan; Japanese Theater; Japanese Popular Culture; The Spirit of Samurai in Literature and Film

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 the most famous novels, short stories, and plays, as well as the Nobel Prize speeches of Kawabata Yasunari and Oe Kenzaburo. 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.

Over the course of the semester, you will become acquainted with Japanese literature spanning over 300 years. In the course 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. The first half of this class covering classical literature will be offered in the fall. The class presupposes no specialized knowledge of Japanese language, literature or history; however, students with advanced language skills, with the consent of the instructor, may take a 4th credit (one additional hour per week) for reading and discussion of the texts  in the original language.

311. Japanese Film

This course will investigate Japanese cinema as a narrative art--that is, as a form of storytelling--while also analyzing it as a formal construct and as a participant in larger aesthetic and social contexts. We will survey the full historical scope of Japanese cinema, from the extant silent films of the 1920s through the golden age of Japanese cinema in the 1950s to the worldwide prominence of Japanese animation in the present day. This course will also introduce students to major directors (Kinugasa, Mizoguchi, Ozu, Oshima, Shinoda, Kore'eda, Miyazaki) and representative films, with special emphasis on the fifty-year career of Akira Kurosawa, which will allow us to think about the position of Japanese film within the disciplines of film studies and area studies.

320. Japanese City

This course examines changes in both the historical development and the theoretical conceptualization of the city in Japan. The class will begin with the old capital of Edo and follow it through to the current metropolis of Tokyo, and will also consider some of Japan's colonial enclaves (Shanghai, Seoul) during the 1930s. The class will look at representations of the city in literature and film, as well study it from the perspective of architecture and city planning. We will look at representations of the city as a whole, as well as examine the character and historical significance of 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. Prior knowledge of Japan or Japanese is not required but is helpful.

330. Japan's Gross National Cool

This class willexamine the premise of Douglas McCray famous essay, "Japan's Gross NationalCool," that despite the recession, Japan now has far greater global influencethan when it was an economic superpower. We will look at both Japan'sexportation of culture abroad, often called "soft power," as well as thereception of Japanese cultural products in the West. We will discuss culture,cultural production, cultural imperialism, Orientalism and self-Orientalism.Taught in English. Students will add their research topics to the course website on postbubble culture.

340. Pop Culture and Nationalism in Millenial Japan

Theeconomic bubble crashed in 1990s Japan, and the nation plunged into a recessionand an age of unrest with unforeseen social problems such as brutal childmurders, bullying, school nonattendance, sexual deviance, 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 will deal with theoretical ideas of how to define cultureand pop culture via structures such as nationalism and popular nationalidentity. Using a variety of texts (including novels, manga-comics, onlinearticles, as well as theoretical readings), this class will examine theintersection of popular culture and nationalism, and question both the efficacyof popular culture as a vehicle for the nationalist message and the viabilityof the resulting political imagination.

350. Virulent Nationalisms

This course looksat the emergence, shifts and resurgence of nationalism from nation forming inthe late 19th century to the resurgence of neo-nationalism in the 21st century.The course will be team-taught and will compare Japan to other countries.

411. Independent Study

Students interested in pursuing language or literature studies beyond the course offerings should contact either Professor DiNitto, 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.