This course is designed to give students an opportunity to acquaint themselves with a range of Japanese novels written between the late 19th century and the present. We will place a particular focus on how the Japanese writers struggled to come to terms with the idea of the modern, and explore the nature of the dilemma these writers faced in their attempt to incorporate modernity. Starting with the pioneering writers of the Meiji period, we will move on to the writers of the later periods and will also deal with the new writings of the younger generation in contemporary Japan. Some of the works will be examined in detail, using different critical approaches to analyse their thematic construction, structural characteristics and stylistic features. Most of the texts dealt with in this course are widely read works by well-known authors, but I am hoping to introduce some new readings, and also hope that students will actively participate in discussions to exchange their own reading of the text.
Classes will consist of short lectures followed by discussions. Discussions will be done both in small groups and as a class as a whole. Both students with and without background in Japanese literature are welcome. We will be using the English translation of these works in class, but for preparation students are welcome to read them in the language of their choice.
Shock of the West and the "New Individual":
Natsume Soseki, Kokoro --- The struggle of a Meiji intellectual
Mori Ogai Wild Geese --- The self-awakening of a woman
Tokyo Cityscape, 1920s: Fascination/Disillusionment
Required reading: Tanizaki Jun’ichiro’s “Aguri” --- Sexuality and the body
Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Naomi --- The beautiful enchantress
(Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Kappa, In a Grove, Rashomon--- Struggling with the irrational)
(Film Viewing: “Rashomon”)
Yosano Akiko’s poems of “the new woman”
Lost in the Modern
Dazai Osamu, No Longer Human --- A confession of a social misfit
Quest for Identity in PostwarJapan
Kawabata Yasunari, Snow Country, Thousand Cranes --- Longing for the lost tradition
Mishima Yukio, “Patriotism” --- Tradition and nationalism
Mishima Yukio, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Mishima Yukio, Spring Snow
New Writing after the 1980s
Murakami Haruki, The Wild Sheep Chase, After Dark
--- Where is reality? freedom and surveillance
Murakami Haruki, The End of the World and Hardboiled Wonderland
Murakami Ryu, Coinlocker Babies --- Tokyo in crisis
Yoshimoto Banana, Kitchen
Young Writers Today
Kawakami Hiromi, Kawakami Mieko, Kanehara Hitomi and others
Each class will consist of a brief lecture and classroom discussion. The lecture will include an introduction to the topic of the week, providing basic factual and conceptual information required for approaching the works to be discussed that week. This will be followed by discussion conducted in groups. All students are expected to participate in the discussion, exchanging opinions and comments on the text from a variety of viewpoints and cultural backgrounds.
1) Class participation and assignments 20%
2) In-class worksheets 40%
3) Semester Essay 40%
Some of the required readings will be available from the Globalization Office (B1, KOMCEE WEST) or will be provided in class. For other works students will be required to do a library search.