JAPAN 533: Modern Japanese Literature Seminar

The Literary Scene in Taishô Japan

Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-11:20am
Parrington 305
Co-taught by Professor Kôno Kensuke (Nihon University)
and Professor Ted Mack (University of Washington)

The Taishô Emperor, whose reign (1912-26) determines this dubious framing of literary history

This class will read a series of works written (almost exclusively) in the Taishô period (1912-1926). Students will also be asked to compose their own supplemental reading lists.

It is our pleasure to have KÔNO Kensuke, professor of Japanese literature at Nihon University and visiting scholar at the University of Washington, co-teach this course. Professor Kôno is the author and editor of many articles and books, most recently Tôki to shite no bungaku: katsuji, kenshô, media (Tokyo: Shin'yôsha, 2003).

The class will be conducted in Japanese and therefore requires a very advanced level of Japanese speaking, listening, and reading ability. All writing will be done in English. Any student with sufficient language ability and interest, whether graduate or undergraduate, is welcome to contact us about taking the course. Course enrollment is limited and requires the permission of the professors. Please contact Professor Mack if you are interested in taking the course.

Reading Schedule

March 28
Chikamatsu Shûkô, "Kurokami" (1922) [15 pp.]
April 4
Supplemental reading list due; Shimada Seijirô, Chijô (selection) (1919) [21 pp.]
No class: AAS in San Francisco

Kaizan Nakazato, Dai-bosatsu Tôge: Great Boddhisattva Pass (1929 translation)*
Book 1 (PDF, 5.2 MB), Book 2 (PDF, 1.4 MB), Book 3 (PDF, 2.3 MB)

* I am making these PDFs available because I believe they are no longer protected by copyright; if this is incorrect, please contact me and I will be happy to remove them.

Nakazato Kaizan, Daibosatsu tôge (selection) (1914) [12 pp.]
Special movie viewing: The Sword of Doom (1966)
Ôsugi Sakae, The Autobiography of Ôsugi Sakae (1992 translation)
Ôsugi Sakae, "Shikai no naka kara" (1919) [65 pp.]
Kikuchi Kan, Shinju fujin (selection) (1920) [38 pp.]
Kikuchi Kan, "Irefuda" (1921) [8 pp.]
May 2

Midterm paper due; Interlude: The Critique of Area Studies

  • Harry Harootunian, "Postcoloniality's Unconscious/Area Studies' Desire" from Learning Places: The Afterlives of Area Studies
  • Naoki Sakai, "The Problem of 'Japanese Thought'" from Translation and Subjectivity
  • Harry Harootunian and Naoki Sakai, "Dialogue: Japan Studies and Cultural Studies" in positions

Interlude: Temporality, Comparability, and Dislocation
Special time and place: 8pm in Communications 226

  • Harry Harootunian, "Ghostly Comparisons" in Traces 3 and "Some Thoughts on Comparability and the Space-Time Problem" in boundary 2 32:2.
  • Naoki Sakai, "Dislocation of the West and the Status of the Humanities" in Traces 1 and "Asia: Co-figurative Identification" from Asia in Transition: Representation and Identity
Special event: Harry Harootunian, Naoki Sakai, Sun Ge
Tanizaki Jun'ichirô, "Tojô" (1920) ][24 pp.]
Tanizaki Jun'ichirô, "Watashi" (1921) [11 pp.]
Uno Kôji, Ku no sekai: sono ichi (1919) [47 pp.]
Uno Kôji, Love of Mountains (1997 translation)
Ôizumi Kokuseki, "Watashi no jijôden" (1919) [51 pp.]
Hirotsu Kazuo, "Samayoeru Ryûkyûjin" (1926) [27 pp.]
Uchida Hyakken, The Realm of the Dead (2006 translation)
June 1
Hayama Yoshiki, "Inbaifu" [1925] and "Letter in a Cement Barrel" [1926]
June 9
Final paper due
Most texts will be available online.
Most of the primary readings are available through the University of Washington E-reserves. Translated texts may, of course, be read in the original. E-reserves
Many of the texts for this class require Adobe Acrobat Reader. Acrobat Reader
The following translations will not be available online:
Uchida Hyakken, Realm of the Dead, trans. Rachel DiNitto (Dalkey Archive Press, 2006)
Ôsugi Sakae, The Autobiography of Ôsugi Sakae, trans. Byron Marshall (University of California Press, 1992)
Uno Kôji, Love of Mountains: Two Stories, trans. Elaine Gerbert (University of Hawaii Press, 1997)



PARTICIPATION: All class members will be expected to finish every reading 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 browsed 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.

SUPPLEMENTAL READING LIST: At the beginning of the term, students will make up their own supplemental reading lists, based on their interests, in consultation with the professors. These lists can include additional fictional readings, critical readings on the authors or works in either English or Japanese, or pieces of critical theory. Students are expected to use the readings in their papers and to raise points from the readings in class.

LEADING: All meetings of the seminar will have a student discussion leader; 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 about the author, historical context of the work and its production, the site and nature of the story's 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 second paper can be a 4000 word expansion of the first paper.) The goal is to produce papers that can be presented at academic conferences.  The first is due on May 2, the second during the exam period on June 9.  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. 

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 GROUPS: I encourage students to meet outside of class to discuss the texts and problems they have encountered in reading those texts.  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.

CHEATING AND PLAGIARISM: The presentation of another's words and ideas as one's own is a serious offense; violations will be dealt with according to the University codes of conduct, which stipulate sanctions up to and including expulsion.

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.

Page last updated on March 20, 2012