Modern Japanese History

A dinosaur
LecturerNathan HOPSON, Associate Professor
DepartmentG30, 2016 Spring
Recommended for:School of Humanities / Graduate School of Humanities (21.5 hours / session Two sessions / week 14 weeks / semester)

Course Overview

Students will watch the recorded lectures outside of class. In class, we will use the time to discuss those lectures and analyze primary source materials.

Key Features

Class assessment is based on your two primary source analyses and your final paper or project.

Strategies for Success

  1. Lectures
    Rewatch the lectures at home on the YouTube channel, referring to the reference materials and weekly readings. Take notes if necessary, but not on specifics. Pay attention to the big issues, the big themes and questions that animate the lectures. The details will be much easier to retain if they are part of a comprehensive narrative that you have internalized.
  2. Primary Source Analyses
    Read the "Reading a Primary Source" document, provided separately, for information on what primary sources are, why the are important, and how to effectively engage with them as a historian. In your analysis, refer specifically to the questions on page 3 -though this does not have to be exhaustive.
  3. Final Project
    Refer to the guidelines, provided separately. Begin thinking about your paper or project topic early so that you can produce thoughtful, refined (edited) work.

Course Aims

The course has the following principal goals:

  1. to become conversant with a general narrative of events (1850-present)
  2. to learn to read and interpret primary documents

Course Content

Fri 4 will be lecture. The lectures will be videotaped and made available online for review and/or for students unable to attend.

Mon 1 will focus on discussion of the previous lecture and primary source materials.


None. All readings will be made available through the class website.

Reference Materials

To supplement your knowledge of Japanese history as needed, I recommend the library's electronic copy of:

  • Tsutsui, William, ed. A Companion to Japanese History. Blackwell Publishing.

Course Schedule

Session Contents
2 Bakumatsu
3 "Restoration?"
4 Meiji I
5 Meiji II
7 Interwar I
8 Interwar II
10 Rebuilding
11 "Doubling"
12 "Bubbling"
13 "Losing?"
14 TBA


  1. Weekly readings
  2. Two primary source analyses (One page each)
  • [Reading a Primary Source](https- // Reading a Primary Source.pdf)
  1. Final paper or digital humanities project
  • Analytical five-page paper on one of three provided topics.
  • Group project using digital technologies to present data in innovative and informative format.
  • [Paper and Project Guidelines](https- // Paper and Project Guidelines.pdf)


  • Monday Attendance 35%
  • Source Analyses 30% (15% each)
  • Final paper/project 35%

Last updated

September 25, 2019