JAPAN 590: New Directions in Japanese Cultural Studies



Professor Ted Mack
TTh 3:30-5:20 MGH 253

The seminar will examine a small sample of recent scholarship in English in the field of modern Japanese cultural studies, with a non-exclusive focus on literary studies. All the selected texts are (for the most part) the first books from their authors and have been published in the last decade; they have been chosen to represent a variety of approaches and objects of study, as well as to represent a number of the presses that publish work on Japan. Needless to say, many excellent works have been omitted because of limited space.

Selections of University of Washington professors' books will be examined during the final week to expose you to our work.

In addition to ascertaining the authors' main arguments, we will also consider the methodology and presumptions of the books, attempting a meta-critique of the various ways in which the authors define the field and their object of knowledge.

The following assignments and schedule are tentative and subject to change.

Although all readings will be in English, students will be expected to possess a high level of Japanese reading ability in order to consult primary texts.

Additional readings are listed for students who would like to begin preparing over the summer. In all cases English translations are available. If you choose to use a translation, please be sure to look at the original as well. As always, reading the text in the original Japanese is preferred.





Yoshikuni Igarashi, Bodies of Memory: Narratives of War in Postwar Japanese Culture, 1945-1970 (Princeton, 2000)

  • Additional reading: TBA
Reviews in Monumenta Nipponica, Journal of Asian Studies, Pacific Affairs.

Leo T.S. Ching, Becoming "Japanese": Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation (California, 2001)

Reviews in Journal of Japanese Studies, Chinese Literature, Journal of Asian Studies, American Ethnologist, and the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History.

Seiji M. Lippit, Topographies of Japanese Modernism (Columbia, 2002)

Reviews in Japanese Language and Literature, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Japanese Studies, and Monumenta Nipponica.

Michael K. Bourdaghs, The Dawn that Never Comes: Shimazaki Tôson and Japanese Nationalism (Columbia, 2003)

Reviews in Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Japanese Studies,
Nov. 3

Richard F. Calichman, Takeuchi Yoshimi: Displacing the West (Cornell, 2004)

Reviews in Journal of Japanese Studies, and Monumenta Nipponica.

Atsuko Ueda, Concealment of Politics, Politics of Concealment: The Production of 'Literature' in Meiji Japan (Stanford, 2007)


Christopher L. Hill, National History and the World of Nations: Capital, State, and the Rhetoric of History in Japan, France, and the United States (Duke, 2008)

Presentation of First Reviews  
NO CLASS: Thanksgiving
Dec. 1

Alan Tansman, The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism (California, 2009) PDF

  • Additional reading: TBA




Davinder L. Bhowmik, Writing Okinawa: Narrative Acts of Identity and Resistance (Routledge, 2008)

  • Additional reading: TBA


Edward Mack, Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Prizes, Publishing, and the Ascription of Literary Value (Duke, 2010)


Second Reviews Due  


Texts may be purchased, but they will be on reserve at the East Asian Library and are available by request through SUMMIT.
Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (Off-campus link)
The online guide contains more than 240 alphabetically arranged entries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.


PARTICIPATION: Students should be prepared to explain or respond to any portion of the assigned reading. One student will be assigned to lead each meeting's discussion. Since participation is a vital aspect of the class, attendance is required at all sessions.  Unexcused absences will affect one's participation grade.

PAPER: Students will write two book reviews. They are to be a maximum of 1000 words each. We will discuss everyone's first review in class.

GRADING: Your final grades will consider your presentations and participation (60%) and your paper (40%).  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.

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 November 22, 2009