(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.
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.