Japan 435: Undergraduate Seminar

Gender and Sexuality in Modern Japanese Literature

Professors Ted Mack and Odaira Maiko (Nihon University)
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:30-5:20 SAV 157

This undergraduate seminar in modern Japanese literature will focus on the topics of gender and sexuality in a series of literary works from Japan, written over the half-century from 1894-1953. Although the stories will not be read in strict chronological sequence, we will be discussing them against their relevant historical contexts.

In addition to exposing students to reading methods that focus on gender and sexuality in literary texts, this course will focus on developing students' ability to write a sustained and coherent literary analysis of their own. To that end, students will develop long papers over the course of the term through a series of assignments.

We are very fortunate to be joined this quarter with Professor ODAIRA Maiko of Nihon University, who is a specialist of Meiji-Taishô literature.

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



March 26
Nami-ko: A Realistic Novel, part 1. (Also available in the original Japanese [1898-99].)
April 2
Nami-ko: A Realistic Novel, part 2. (Also available in the original Japanese.)
Nami-ko: A Realistic Novel, part 3. (Also available in the original Japanese.)
Professor Odaira's first day; Ken K. Ito, "The Family and the Nation in Tokutomi Roka's Hototogisu," 489-536.
Higuchi Ichiyô, "Troubled Waters" ("Nigorie" [1894]) and "The Thirteenth Night" ("Jûsan'ya" [1894])
Higuchi Ichiyô, "Child's Play" ("Takekurabe" [1895-96]) and Timothy J. Van Compernolle, "Happiness Foreclosed"
Tamura Toshiko, "Lifeblood" ("Ikiji" [1911]) and "A Woman Writer" ("On'na sakusha" [1913])
Dazai Osamu, "Schoolgirl,"("Joseito" [1939])


Paper assignment #1: pick a story to analyze in your paper; use the Japan Foundation translation database.

Okamoto Kanoko, "The Love of Kishimo" ("Kishimo no ai" [1928]) and "The House Spirit" ("Karei" [1939]), and Hirabayashi Taiko, "The Goddess Kishimo" ("Kishimojin" [1946])

LECTURE: Pheng Cheah, "What is a World? Postcolonial Literature as World Literature," 4:00 PM, Communications 120

Paper assignment #2: hand in all quotes related to gender/sexuality in your story.

Nagai Kafu, “A Strange Tale from East of the River” ("Bokutô kitan" [1937]) and 1949. Hayashi Fumiko, "Bones" ("Hone" [1949]).

Yokomitsu Riichi, "Ideas of the Flower Garden" ("Hanazono no shisô" [1927])

Paper assignment #3: hand in topic sentence and outline of paper.

Professor Odaira's last day. Miyamoto Yuriko, "The Family of Koiwai" ("Koiwai no ikka" [1934]) and "The Banshu Plain"("Banshû heiya" [1946])
Ibuse Masuji, "Kuchisuke's Valley" ("Kuchisuke no iru tanima" [1929])
Yasuoka Shôtarô, "The Glass Slipper" ("Garasu no kutsu" [1951]) and "Gloomy Pleasures" ("Inki na tanoshimi" [1953])

Edogawa Rampo, "Beast in the Shadows" ("Inju" [1928])

Paper assignment #4: hand in two copies of rough draft of paper


HOLIDAY -- Memorial Day

Paper assignment #5: send feedback to partner

Paper presentations; general peer feedback



June 8

Paper assignment #6: final papers due




Most of the readings will be available as PDF files to students in the class through links in the syllabus above.

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: Participation in classroom discussions is central to successful performance in the class. Students must have read the relevant reading(s) before class and be prepared to discuss the stories (and complete a number of short pop quizzes during the term.) Although students will sometimes be called on, active participation in discussion is ultimately the student's responsibility. Although response papers are not required, students should be prepared to summarize arguments and identify main points from the readings.

WRITING: The goal of this course is for each student to produce a seminar paper. To that end, students will submit various drafts during the term, working toward the submission of a polished paper by the end of the term.

GRADING: Grades will be determined through a combination of the student's preparation for and participation in discussions (50%), paper assignments #1-5 (30%), and the final paper (20%).

STUDY GROUPS: I encourage students to meet outside of class to discuss the readings and problems they have encountered in interpreting them.

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 June 5, 2014
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