World and Image in Japanese Narrative I~IV

Dylan Patrick MCGEE Research Associate Professor

Department: G30

Class Time: 2013 Fall Monday

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Course Overview

(Semester 1): This course, the first part of a year-long survey, will introduce students to the rich traditions of visual storytelling in medieval and early modern Japan. Through a series of units on individual works and genres, including the Tale of Genji scrolls, medieval gunki-monogatari scrolls, Buddhist scriptures and early modern illustrated books, students will gain practical knowledge about the production and reception of visual narratives, as well as broad-based historical and cultural knowledge to enhance appreciation. Secondary readings will introduce critical vocabulary for analyzing interactions between text and image, adaptation across genres, and intertextuality.

(Semester 2): This course, the second part of a year-long survey, will introduce students to traditions of visual storytelling popular during the late nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, highlighting points of contingency with traditions introduced in the first course. Through a series of units on individual works and genres, including woodblock prints, ponchi-e, manga, shashin shōsetsu (photo novels) and other popular print genres, film, anime, and keitai shōsetsu (cell phone novels) students will gain practical knowledge about the production and reception of visual narratives, with a view towards gaining historical and cultural context for appreciating the interplay between technology and narrative form.

Key Features

In each class, I aim for an optimal balance of lecture and lively class discussion, both driven by an inquiry-based approach to learning. Students are encouraged to share their observations and insights during close examination of textual artifacts, to draw connections with other materials examined in the course, and ultimately to develop lines of inquiry that will lead to original research. Proficiency in Japanese, while helpful, is not required. All course materials will be made available to students at the beginning of the semester; there are no required texts for purchase.

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Course Aims

  • Students will become familiar with the traditions of Japanese visual narrative, and be able to make connections and distinctions between different periods, trends, schools, works and figures.
  • Students will be able to apply terminology, concepts and practical knowledge acquired during the year to various in-class and take-home exercises requiring aesthetic response and critical analysis.
  • Students will gain exposure to theoretical approaches and practices currently employed in the fields of literary and cultural studies, art history and art criticism.

Course Outline

Semester 1

Topic Weeks
1 Tale of Genji Scrolls (including museum visit) 4
2 Medieval Military Tale Scrolls 2
3 Buddhist Picture Scrolls 3
4 Late Medieval Picture Books 1
5 Early Modern Printed Books (including museum visit) 5

Semester 2

Topic Weeks
1 Early Photography in Japan 2
2 Early Film in Japan 2
3 Wartime and Early Postwar Manga, Kami-shibai, and Animation 6
4 Postwar Film 2
5 Contemporary Anime 2
6 New Technologies of Narration 1

Textbooks

None.

Reference books

None.

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Page last updated March 2, 2015

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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