New Perspectives on Modern Japanese Literature

Kristina IWATA Associate Professor

Department: G30

Class Time: 2015 Spring Monday
Recommended for: G30 Program
School of Letters
3rd and 4th year undergraduate, graduate and NUPACE students

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Course Description

"Love" at first sight appears as an obvious concept, but in reality it has undergone radical changes over time and differs depending on the cultural context. This course explores representations of love, longing, and desire in modern Japanese culture and literature. Following a brief excursion to pre-modern understandings of love and tracing its translation into a modern, westernized notion, we ask how love has been conceptualized in relation to sexuality, gender, marriage, and the modern nation state. In particular, we will discuss the (literary) representation of themes such as romantic love, postwar pure love, homosexual love, prostitution, love suicide, parental love, and more.

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Course Aims

The course is open to all 3rd and 4th year undergraduate, graduate and NUPACE students. It will mostly be taught in English but all participants should have some understanding of Japanese and ideally be able to follow discussions in both languages. Reading responses and seminar papers can be submitted in either language. Students from other Schools are welcome if they are familiar with the basics of literary analysis.

Course Registration

The course is open to all 3rd and 4th year undergraduate, graduate and NUPACE students. It will mostly be taught in English but all participants should have some understanding of Japanese and ideally be able to follow discussions in both languages. Reading responses and seminar papers can be submitted in either language.

Students from other Schools are welcome if they are familiar with the basics of literary analysis.

Course Content

While our focus will be on (translated) works of modern literature, we will make excursions to the pre-modern era and also read texts that look at "Love" from a historical, sociological and/ or anthropological perspective. All literary texts (but few/none of the research papers) read are available in Japanese as well.

This course is not a lecture but a reading-intensive seminar the learning outcome of which depends on your preparation and activeparticipation in class.

Textbooks/References

No textbook is required for this course. All weekly readings will be made available in English as PDFs, etc. Additionally, the following books are recommended:

  • Luhmann, Niklas. Love as passion: the codification of intimacy. Polity Press, 1986.
  • McLelland, Mark. Love, sex, and democtracy in Japan during the American Occupation. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
  • Ryang, Sonia. Love in modern Japan: its estrangement from self, sex, and society. London, NY: Routledge 2006.
  • Yokota-Murakami, Takayuki. Don Juan East/West. On the problematics of comparative literature. NY: State University of NY Press, 1998.

Course Schedule

The topics and dates below are not fixed. Contents will be adjusted with the progression of the class.

Session Contents
1 Introduction
2 Love linguistics
  • Saeki, Junko, "From iro (eros) to ai=love: The case of Tsubouchi Shoyo" Levy, Indra, ed., Translation in Modern Japan. London, NY: Routledge, 2011, pp.73-101.
  • Yokota-Murakami, Takayuki "The Introduction of ‘Love’ into Modern Japan". Yokota-Muakami, Takayuki. Don Juan East/West. On the problematics of comparative literature. NY: State University of NY Press, 1998, pp. 35-80.
3 Love in pre-modern and modern times
  • Ryang, Sonia "Introduction", "Sacred Sex". Ryang, Sonia. Love in modern Japan: its estrangement from self, sex, and society. London, NY: Routledge 2006, 1-34.
  • McLelland, Mark "Love, Sex, and Marriage on the Road to War". Mark McLelland. Love, sex, and democracy in Japan during the American occupation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.13-47.
4 Homosexual Love
  • McLelland, Mark. "Homosexuality in Japanese history", in Dolores P. Martinez, ed., Gender and Japanese Society, London/NY: Routledge, pp. 344-365.
  • Suzuki, Michiko. "Same-Sex Love". Suzuki, Michiko. Becoming Modern Woman, pp. 16-33.
5 Love vs. Nation, Class, and Honor
  • Mori Ogai: The Dancing Girl
6 Literary confession and the discovery of sexuality
  • Tayama Katai: The Quilt
7 The male gaze
  • Kawabata: The Dancing Girl of Izu OR House of Sleeping Beauties
8 To love a modern girl
  • Tanizaki Jun’ichirô: Naomi
9 Love and consumption
  • Murakami Haruki: South of the Border, West of the Sun
10 Love and Madness
  • Ekuni Kaori: God’s Boat
11 Love, Sex, and Otherness
  • Yamada Eimi: Bedtime Eyes
12 Pre-fab homes/families, escapism, and male fantasies
  • Yamada Taichi: I haven’t Dreamt of Flying for a While

Grading

Participation 25%; Reading responses 25%; Two presentations 50%

Minimum attendance rate 80%

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Page last updated November 27, 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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