Professor Ted Mack
Gowen 248
Office hours: MF 2:30-3:30

JAPAN 531: Advanced Readings in Modern Japanese Literature
Mondays and Fridays, 3:30-5:20 p.m.
Gowen M226

The Early Akutagawa Prizes: 1935-1941

The seminar will focus on early Akutagawa Prize winning works in order to come to a better understanding of the practice of literature in prewar and wartime Japan. By reading the works alongside the selection committee's critiques, we will also reconstruct the value structures of key members of the prewar bundan. Issues to be considered include: national and transnational identity within the Japanese empire; linguistic difference and assimilation; social criticism and censorship; the boundaries of lèse majesté; class conflict and national unity; the I-novel and the modern literary tradition; and the shifting nature of literary value.

The primary goal of this class is the improvement of students' reading skills to allow them to read more quickly, more carefully, and more critically. At the same time, the course aims at developing students' ability to construct interesting readings of literary works and to argue them persuasively in English.

Nearly all primary readings are available in the first three volumes of the Akutagawa-shô zenshû, which is on reserve in the East Asian Library. Additional readings will be available as either paper or electronic reserves; this will be explained at the first meeting. Readings marked with an asterisk (*) are available in English translation. Students are encouraged to use these in conjunction with the original texts. Story lengths are indicated in parentheses (). In addition to the stories themselves, students will are encouraged to read the relevant selection critiques (senpyô), located at the end of each volume.


PARTICIPATION: All class members will be expected to finish every story before class meets. Expectations of comprehension, however, will vary by student based on his or her language ability. Native speaking students will be expected not only to have completed the reading, but also to have examined relevant external sources. Non-native speaking specialists will be expected to have completed the reading with a good grasp of the complexities of the text. Non-native speaking, non-specialist students will be expected to have completed the reading with a firm understanding of the progression of events and the primary emotional forces at work. Since participation is a vital aspect of the class, attendance is required at all sessions. Unexcused absences will affect one's participation grade.

RESPONSE PAPERS: In order to begin pulling thoughts together, students will be expected to prepare a one-page response paper for each reading. (The discussion leader may submit his or her overview handout and 5 points [see below] in lieu of a paper.) These papers do not have to be polished or make a strong argument. They should begin by summarizing the story and end with at least one question or comment for class discussion, including citations of important passages relevant to that point. Students will submit these at the end of class meetings. These papers will not be graded, but failure to submit them will affect one's participation grade. Late papers may be accepted under special circumstances.

LEADING: All class members will be expected to lead at least one discussion during the term; stories will be assigned at the first meeting. Discussion leaders will begin the class with an overview of relevant information about the story and its author including, but not limited to: biographical information, historical context, and site of publication. This information should be outlined on handouts for fellow students. Discussion leaders will also be responsible for preparing 5 questions or discussion points to present to the class in order to facilitate class discussion, though not all of these questions will necessarily be used.

PAPERS: Students will be expected to write two papers of 2000 words in length during the term. The goal is to produce papers that could be presented at an academic conference. The first is due before class on November 15, the second at the end of exam period on December 19. The papers should argue a coherent point based firmly in the text of stories read during the term, citing specific passages to support the argument. Specialists should also display a familiarity with relevant secondary scholarship. The first paper may be rewritten after it is returned; significant changes will result in a higher grade.

GRADING: Your final grades will consider your participation (40%), your discussion leading (20%), and your papers (20% each). Though the quality of your work is central to your grade, evaluations of that quality will take into consideration individual skills. Effort will be rewarded.

STUDY GROUP: I recommend that students consider meeting outside of class to discuss the texts and problems they have encountered in reading those texts. As long as all participating students are contributing, I encourage cooperative approaches to this challenging workload. Please note that this does not include dividing up the reading of a story; all students will be expected to have read all of the stories, in full.

ACADEMIC ACCOMMODATIONS: I will do everything I can to accommodate students with particular needs. To request such an accommodation, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you require such accommodation, we can discuss ways to meet those needs.


09.30 (Mon.) Introduction

10.04 (Fri.) No class: AJLS

10.07 (Mon.) Ishikawa Tatsuzô, Sôbô (50)

10.11 (Fri.) Tsuruta Tomoya, Koshamain-ki (24)

10.14 (Mon.) Oda Takeo, Jôgai (18)

10.18 (Fri.) Ishikawa Jun, Fugen* (74)

10.21 (Mon.) No class: Boston

10.25 (Fri.) [Japan Studies party; class 4:30-6:20] Tomizawa Uio, Chichûkai (44)

10.28 (Mon.) Ozaki Kazuo, Neko and Fuso no chi* [from Nonki megane] (17+9)

11.01 (Fri.) Hino Ashihei, Fun'nyô-tan (48)

11.04 (Mon.) Nakayama Gishû, Atsumonozaki (22)

11.08 (Fri.) Nakazato Tsuneko, Noriai basha (35)

11.11 (Mon.) No class: Veteran's Day PAPER 1 due by 11.15

11.15 (Fri.) Hase Ken, Asakusa no kodomo (137) [58 in Bungei shunjû version]

11.18 (Mon.) Handa Yoshiyuki, Niwatori sôdô (34)

11.22 (Fri.) Samukawa Kôtarô, Mitsuryôsha (25)

11.25 (Mon.) Takagi Taku, Uta to mon no tate (28)

11.29 (Fri.) No class: Thanksgiving

12.02 (Mon.) Tada Yûkei, Chôkô Deruta (36)

12.06 (Fri.) Ainoda Toshiyuki, Yamabiko (30)

12.09 (Mon.) Shibaki Yoshiko, Seika no ichi (30) PAPER 2 due by 12.19