This course is intended to cover the history of Japanese literature from earliest times up to the modern era. Starting with the writing system, we will trace the conspicuous developments in poetry, prose and drama through the Nara, Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi and Edo periods. Included are such works as the Manyôshû, Genji monogatari, Heike monogatari, Oku-no-hosomichi and Sonezaki shinjû.
A detailed list of the works covered in this course is available on the class website.
On completion of this lecture course, students should:
- Understand how the Japanese writing system developed, how it came to be used to compose works of literature, the problems it poses, and how the modern reader can decipher a manuscript such as that of Genji monogatari;
- Be familiar with the major works of poetry, prose and drama in the period covered;
- Comprehend the major literary currents in the period covered and be able to identify the importance of the major works in the development of these currents;
- Be familiar with the major figures in Japanese literary history (including commentators and critics) and their achievements;
- Appreciate the cultural background (including religious aspects) of the works covered and, where necessary, the political events that form a backdrop to the literature;
- Be familiar with the reception of Japanese literature in the West.
In the last few weeks of the course, those students requiring a grade will have an opportunity to report on a reading and research project of
their own choosing.
Messages to Those Taking This Course:
The course assumes that the student has a working knowledge of English. Prior knowledge of Japanese literature is not required, though it is
desirable. Naturally some familiarity with the Japanese language, spoken and written, is an advantage.
Grading is primarily based on the student’s research project, presented to the class (using PowerPoint) according to a published schedule; a
Q&A session will follow each presentation and a student’s responses are taken into consideration in the grading process. Overseas students who
want their credits to be transferred to their home university are advised to present their research results in the form of an academic paper,
complete with notes and bibliography. Naturally, regular attendance is important in order to receive a passing grade; the International Center requires that a record be kept.