Contemporary Japanese Literature


This course focuses solely on developing advanced Japanese reading skills through practice. Students read through contemporary Japanese short stories on their own and then meet to go over that reading, focusing on grammar and vocabulary but also discussing literary devices and effects. Unlike most other language offerings, this course is made up of readings that have not been tailored or selected for ease of comprehension. Students read the most celebrated short stories of recent years, regardless of difficulty, in their complete form. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the real complexity and beauty of literary Japanese, while providing them with the tools necessary to read even the most challenging fiction. The hope is that the course will begin students on a lifelong path of reading Japanese literature – whether professionally or recreationally.

JAPAN 313 or its equivalent is an absolute requirement; JAPAN 431 and 432 are highly recommended. A high level of Japanese reading ability is required; expect the gulf between third-year Japanese readings and these stories to be substantial.

The syllabus below will be in flux throughout the semester. Although one week is initially dedicated to each work, in practice it might take more or less time. The syllabus will adjust accordingly.

Books Required: