Advanced Reading Comprehension and Translation

Itoyama Akiko, "Fukuro kôji no otoko"

Professor Ted Mack

Winter 2011: JAPAN 432

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 12:30-1:50pm
SAV 158

We will read Itoyama Akiko's "Fukuro kôji no otoko." It first appeared in the December 2003 issue of Gunzô. That year it was awarded the Kawabata Yasunari Prize for literature. It subsequently came out in Kôdansha's Nochi bunko series. Following this we will read its sequel, "Odagiri Takashi no iiwake." It appeared in the July 2004 issue of Gunzô.

Two other stories by Itoyama have already been translated into English: "In the Offing" and "It's Only Talk."

Please note that students may take any one or more of these classes; the only prerequisite is a 2.5 or higher in JAPAN 313 (or its equivalent.)

You will need a good dictionary. One excellent choice, if you have access to the Internet, is Yahoo! Japan's free online dictionaries. You would also find a grammar reference, such as this one, very handy. If you prefer paper dictionaries, look for a good collegiate Japanese-English dictionary and a medium-sized Japanese-Japanese dictionary. If you do not have Internet access, consider investing in an electronic dictionary.

On occasion, elaboratons and clarifications of classroom discussions will be posted to my course blog, Reading Japanese.

Reading Schedule:

Students' reading speeds differ so dramatically that it is difficult to provide a detailed schedule in advance. Please come to the first day of class to receive the first reading and to find out how much to prepare for subsequent meetings.

The reading is available in PDF form.

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 written 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:


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 cell phones before class begins.

Weekly Short 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 Comprehensive Quiz (20%):

The final quiz will be made up of translation questions involving sentences chosen from among all the readings.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

Page last updated on February 8, 2011