Modern Japanese History

Nathan HOPSON Associate Professor

Department: G30

Class Time: 2016 Spring Monday Friday
Recommended for: School of Humanities / Graduate School of Humanities

close Course Overview

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.

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close Syllabus

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


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

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close Class Materials


  1. Weekly readings
  2. Two primary source analyses (One page each)

Reading a Primary Source (PDF, 95KB)

  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 (PDF, 143KB)


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Page last updated September 25, 2019

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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