JAPAN 431: Readings in Contemporary Japanese Literature

Levy Hideo, Nakashima Taiko, and Ikuta Sayo

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 12:30-1:50pm
Savery 311
Professor Ted Mack

Levy Nakashima Ikuta

This term we will focus on two works of contemporary short fiction that appeared in Gunzô magazine during the year 2005 -- Levy Hideo's "Konechikatto abenyû," which first appeared in the April 2005 issue, and Nakashima Taiko's "Kare no takkyûbin," which first appeared in the May 2005 issue -- and one that appeared in the January 2005 issue of Subaru, Ikuta Sayo's "Kingyô no shigo." All three stories were reprinted in Bungaku 2006 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2006), a collection of the best stories of the year.

The reading schedule below is tentative, and will adjust based on the progress of the class.

Reading Schedule

9/27 (Wednesday) Introduction
9/29 (Friday) Levy Hideo, "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 125.
10/2 (Monday) "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 126.
10/4 (Wednesday) "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 127.
10/6 (Friday)* "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 128.
10/9 (Monday)* QUIZ #1; "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 129.
10/11 (Wednesday) "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 130.
10/13 (Friday) "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 131.
10/16 (Monday) QUIZ #2; "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 132.
10/18 (Wednesday) "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 133.
10/20 (Friday) "Konechikatto abenyû", p. 134-35.
10/23 (Monday) QUIZ #3; Nakashima Taiko, "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 148.
10/25 (Wednesday)* "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 149.
10/27 (Friday)* "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 150.
10/30 (Monday)* QUIZ #4; "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 151.
11/1 (Wednesday) "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 152.
11/3 (Friday) "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 153.
11/6 (Monday) QUIZ #5; "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 154.
11/8 (Wednesday) "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 155.
11/10 (Friday) HOLIDAY -- Veteran's Day
11/13 (Monday) QUIZ #6; "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 156.
11/15 (Wednesday) "Kare no takkyûbin", p. 157-58.
11/17 (Friday) Ikuta Sayo, "Kingyô no shigo", p. 17-18.
11/20 (Monday) QUIZ #7; "Kingyô no shigo", p. 18-19.
11/22 (Wednesday) "Kingyô no shigo", p. 20-21.
11/24 (Friday) HOLIDAY -- Thanksgiving
11/27 (Monday) QUIZ #8; "Kingyô no shigo", p. 21-22.
11/29 (Wednesday) "Kingyô no shigo", p. 23-24.
12/1 (Friday) "Kingyô no shigo", p. 24-25.
12/4 (Monday) QUIZ #9; "Kingyô no shigo", p. 26-27.
12/6 (Wednesday) "Kingyô no shigo", p. 27-28.
12/8 (Friday) REVIEW
12/14 (Thursday) FINAL EXAM: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 8:30-10:20 am

About the Course:
This course focuses solely on developing advanced Japanese reading skills through practice. Students read through contemporary Japanese fiction 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 celebrated 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.

A grade of 2.5 or higher in JAPAN 313 or its equivalent is an absolute requirement. 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 as we move through the stories. Watch the online syllabus and talk with your classmates about where we are for any given class meeting.

Required Materials:


All texts are available online.
All necessary texts are available through the University of Washington E-reserves.
Bungaku 2006 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2006) may also be available at the Seattle Kinokuniya bookstore.
Many of the texts for this class require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Participation and preparation (50%):

All class members will be expected to complete assigned readings before class meets. Class meetings will involve recitation in Japanese, translation, and discussion of grammar in either English or Japanese. Every student will be called on at every class meeting; likely each will be called multiple times. Inadequate preparation will result in a reduction of one's participation grade. Late arrivals disrupt class; therefore you are expected to arrive on time. Please turn off all beepers and cell phones before class begins.

Quizzes (30%; every Monday, unless otherwise noted):

Quizzes will be made up of translation questions involving sentences chosen from the previous week's reading.

Final Exam (20%; Thursday, 14 December 2006, 8:30-10:20 am):

The final exam will be made up of translation questions involving sentences chosen from the reading as a whole.

Recommended References:

Japanese-Japanese dictionary: Shinmura Izuru, ed, Kôjien. Fifth edition. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1998.

Japanese character dictionary: John M. Haig, et al, ed. The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary. Tokyo: Tuttle, 1997.

Japanese-English dictionary: Koh Masuda, ed. Kenkyûsha's New Japanese-English Dictionary. Fourth Edition. Tokyo: Kenkyûsha, 1974.

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Page last updated on December 7, 2006