Japanese Program Courses

Kabukicho District

Spring 2024 Offerings Summer 2024 Offerings  Fall 2024 Offerings Course Info on SIS Archives

Course Descriptions

The list below includes descriptions of all undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Japanese Program.

Review specific course requirements for the Japanese Program. For up-to-date information on course offerings, schedules, room locations and registration, please visit the Student Information System (SIS).

Language Courses

JPN 1 Elementary Japanese I. Introduction to modern spoken and written Japanese, including hiragana and katakana syllabaries and some kanji. Emphasis on pronunciation, basic grammar, and conversation. No prerequisites.

JPN 2 Elementary Japanese II. Continuation of JPN 1. Active command of oral and written Japanese with emphasis on pronunciation, basic grammar, and conversation. Prerequisite: JPN 1 or instructor permission. Students may not earn credit for JPN 2 if JPN 01/2 has already been taken. 

JPN 3 Intermediate Japanese I. Continuation of JPN 2. Further development of basic grammar while practicing speaking, listening/understanding, reading, and writing. Prerequisite: JPN 2 or instructor permission.

JPN 4 Intermediate Japanese II. Continuation of JPN 3. Further development of basic grammar while practicing speaking, listening/understanding, reading, and writing. Prerequisite: JPN 3 or instructor permission. 

JPN 21 Reading and Conversation I. Designed for students with the equivalent of two years of college Japanese. Further vocabulary development, basic grammar review, and introduction to intermediate grammar. Reading of various topics, development of conversation and composition skills. A considerable portion of the class will be conducted in Japanese. Prerequisite: JPN 4 or instructor permission.

JPN 22 Reading and Conversation II. Continuation of JPN 21. Further vocabulary development and intermediate grammar; development of reading, conversation, and composition skills. A considerable portion of the class will be conducted in Japanese. Prerequisite: JPN 21 or instructor permission. 

JPN 121 Advanced Japanese I. Designed for students with the equivalent of three years of college Japanese. Intensive practice in speaking, reading, and writing. Emphasis on contemporary cultural topics. Mainly conducted in Japanese. Prerequisite: JPN 22 or instructor permission.

JPN 122 Advanced Japanese II. Continuation of JPN 121. Intensive practice in speaking, reading, and writing. Emphasis on contemporary cultural topics. Mainly conducted in Japanese. Prerequisite: JPN 121 or instructor permission.

JPN 123 Advanced Readings in Japanese Culture I. Development of reading and writing in Japanese. Discussion of contemporary materials such as film, newspaper articles, and essays. Oral and written reports. Prerequisite: JPN 122 or instructor permission.

JPN 124 Advanced Readings in Japanese Culture II. Development of reading and writing in Japanese. Discussion of contemporary materials such as film, newspaper articles, and essays. Oral and written reports. Prerequisite: JPN122 or instructor permission.

Courses Taught in English

JPN 61 An Introduction to Japanese Culture. Fundamental principles of Japanese thought and sensibility: animism and communion with nature and the dead, transience, the beauty of sorrow. China as a source of high culture. Focus on the Noh plays and their literary sources. Cross-cultural comparisons. Taught in English. No prerequisites. (May be taken at the 100 level with consent; see Japanese 161 below.)  

JPN 62 Modern Japanese Literature. A study of modernity and the meaning of post-modernity. Crucial Japanese texts from 1600 to the Second World War. Taught in English. No prerequisites. (May be taken at the 100 level with consent; see Japanese 162 below.)  

JPN 63 Postwar Japanese Literature: Modern to Postmodern. Introduction to representative writers of the postwar period, including Tanizaki, Kawabata, Tsushima, and Murakami. Examines the nature of Japanese culture after 1945, focusing on such issues as the devastation of the War, the effect of the occupation, the "economic miracle" of reconstruction, and changing work and gender roles. Taught in English. No prerequisites. (May be taken at the 100 level with consent; see Japanese 163 below.) 

JPN 71 Love & Sexuality in World Literature. Representations of love and sexuality in Japanese and Russian literature. Specific issues to be addressed across a diverse body of literature, film and art include 1) the fusion of sexuality and romance, 2) love as a problem versus love as an ideal, 3) societal conventions as to so-called proper or normative behavior (the various ways hetero-and homosexuality, celibacy, and hedonism have been understood and commented upon in artistic media). All discussions in English. Cross-listed as CIV 71, RUS 71, ILVS 71.

JPN 80 Japanese Film. Survey of important Japanese films, including internationally renowned works by the "masters," Mizoguchi, Ozu, and Kurosawa; the 60's avant-garde cinema of Oshima and Shinoda; and some innovative works by contemporary filmmakers, such as Itami and Morita. Understanding Japanese culture through its cinema and exploring that cinema's relation to Western cultural hegemony. Taught in English. No prerequisites.  

JPN 81 The World of Japanese Animation: Culture, Cult, and Commerce. The themes, directors, and imagery of Japanese animation (anime). Analysis of animation as a medium. Discussion of relation between manga and anime and cultural roots of both media. Study of major themes--elegiac, carnival-esque, and apocalyptic. From prewar military propaganda to the contemporary work of Satoshi Kon, Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii and Katsuhiro Otomo. The anime industry and the spread of anime worldwide. A consideration of otaku culture. Taught in English.  

JPN 82 Animism, Lyricism, and Monstrosity. Studies the consequences of an animistic worldview that sees the world as living rather than dead. The power of things and our ability to lyrically feel and express vitality. The monstrous mix of dead and living expressive systems. Explores topics including Heidegger's instrumentalist dead world, the non-symbolic shimenawa, and Ainu yukara, and the works of Sesshu and Ozu, Matsuo Basho, Izumi Kyoka, Shinkai Makoto, Tawada Yoko, Shizuki Shigeru, Miyazaki Hayao, and Ito Junji.

JPN 83 Disney/Ghibli: Comparing Two Animation Studios. Critical comparison of two of the most influential animation studios in the contemporary world, each a cultural phenomenon. Focus on the contrast between Japanese and American worldviews. History, aesthetics, and narrative style of both studios and their differing approaches to gender, national ideology, ethics, and environmental concerns. In English. Cross-listed as ILVS 78 and FMS 50.

JPN 110 Major Japanese Writers. A Study of major Japanese men and women novelists - their major works and their social contexts. Selection of authors will change year to year. Includes Natsume Soseki, Enchi Fumiko, Mishima Yukio, Kawabata Yasunari, Oe Kenzaburo, Yoshimoto Banana, Murakami Haruki. No prerequisites. 

JPN 111 Japanese Poetry: from Traditional to Avant-Garde. A Study of Japanese Poetry, from its classical forms of waka and haiku to its modern transformations through various Western modernist movements. By encompassing both classical and modern modes of Japanese poetry, we investigate how the function of poetry in society has changed through history. The course also addresses the reciprocal relationship between Western and Japanese poetics. Taught in English. No prerequisites. 

JPN 112 Major Japanese Film Directors. An in-depth study of one or two important Japanese film directors, such as Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, and Nagisa Oshima. Prerequisite: Japanese 80 or consent. Enrollment limited to 15. Taught in English.  

JPN 113 Japanese Visual Culture. Examination of the roots of manga (comic books) and anime (animation) through a study of the Japanese narrative tradition and its close ties to the visual arts. Emphasis on illustrated gesaku (frivolous letters) texts, the theater, and the woodblock prints of the Edo and Meiji periods. Comparisons with the manga of Osamu Tezuka, and with the anime of Miyazaki Hayao. Cross-listed as ILVS 75.

JPN 114 Gender in Japanese Culture. The role of femininity and masculinity in Japanese culture, from the writings of Muraskai Shikibu, creator of "The Tale of Genji" to the heroines of contemporary Japanese animation (anime). Our sources will include , literature, film, essays, television series, manga (comics) and anime. The role of women as a repository of tradition, the use of women in contemporary horror films, the rise and fall of the iconic salaryman, the crisis in contemporary masculinity, and issues in queer sexuality. Taught in English.   

JPN 115 Haruki Murakami. In-depth study of one of the most important contemporary Japanese writers, Haruki Murakami. Readings: A Wild Sheep Chase, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Norwegian Wood, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, etc. Murakamis status as an international writer. His relation to American Literature. No prerequisite. In English.

JPN 116 The Writings of Natsume Soseki. The essays and novels of the brilliant yet tortured Natsume Soseki , one of modern Japan's most important writers. A consideration of his turbulent times and of his major themes--woman as oasis, modern masculinity, redemption, the omnipresent allure of death. An assessment of his role in the formation of the modern Japanese literary canon. Taught in English.  

JPN 117 Horror and Reverence in Japanese Culture. Examination Japan's long tradition of monstrosity and horror, "Japanese gothic." The earliest texts to contemporary treatments: literature, film, anime, manga, painting, popular culture. The influence of animism on fear as both reverence and horror. Consideration given to each side of this duality, and attention to the dynamism that destroys the distance between one and the other.

JPN 118 Haruki Murakami and World Literature. Comparative study of Haruki Murakami's literature in the context of World Literature. How some Western writers' works have shaped Murakami's work. How literature travels the globe, breaking national boundaries. The writers to be examined may include, besides Murakami, Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Chandler, Raymond Carver, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Dostoevsky. Freud, Girard, Karatani, Nietzsche, Damrosch, and others, provide theoretical insights. Taught in English. No prerequisites. Cross-listed as ILVS 118

JPN 119 Nothingness. Nothingness as nihilism and fullness (mu). Topics may include Animism, Buddhism (especially Zen), the Romantic symbol, phenomenology and existentialism. Works by Nagarjuna, Nishitani Keiji, Mishima Yukio. Kojeve, Hegel, Sartre, Paul Schrader, Bresson, and Ozu. Cross-listed w/ PHIL 119.

JPN 161 An Introduction to Japanese Culture. (See Japanese 61 for course description.) For 161, additional readings in the original Japanese; extra class meeting.  

JPN 162 Modern Japanese Literature. (See Japanese 62 for course description.) For 162, additional readings in the original Japanese; extra class meeting.  

JPN 163 Postwar Japanese Literature: Modern to Postmodern. (See Japanese 63 for course description.) For 163, additional readings in the original Japanese; extra class meeting.  

JPN 170 The Orient in the Mind of the West. Two centuries of the role of Asia in the Western mind. Edward' Said's "Orientalism" and its subsequent critiques. The "Orient" vis a vis the West in global power relations. Rudyard Kipling's "Kim", Puccinis's "Madama Butterfly" and tropes of Asia. How these stereotypes have played out in both high and popular Western culture. Student research papers and class presentations on the interflow of images between the civilizations of the West and those of China, India, and Japan.  

JPN 191 Seminar on Special Topics. Special seminar on selected topics in Japanese literature and culture conducted in English. Contingent on the approval by the IR program, it may satisfy the IR seminar requirement. Enrollment limited to 15.

Special Topics and Directed Studies

JPN 91, JPN 92 Special Topics. Courses on selected themes and authors. Conducted in English.

JPN 93, JPN 94 Directed Study. Guided independent study in Japanese language and culture. Prior consent of instructor is required.

JPN 192 Advanced Special Topics. Special advanced course on selected topics in Japanese literature and culture.

JPN 193, JPN 194 Advanced Directed Study. Guided independent study of Japanese language and culture for advanced students. Prior consent of instructor is required.

JPN 198, JPN 199 Honors Thesis.

Japan Related Courses from other Departments

History of Art and Architecture

FAH 10 Japanese Art and the West. Artistic exchange between Japan and the West from the sixteenth century to the present. Focus on Japan's Occidentalism and the West's Japonisme movements; also Japanese nationalists' rebellion against cultural and artistic invasions from the West. Major artists include Hokusai, Degas, Aoki Shigeru, and Van Gogh. (May be taken at 100 level with consent; see below.)  

FAH 11 Buddhist Art. (Cross-listed as Religion 11.) A survey of the Buddhist art of India, China, and Japan. Painting, sculpture, and architecture in relation to changing liturgical requirements. Changes in form and iconography that occurred when Buddhism encountered indigenous traditions. Offered in alternate years. 

FAH 15 Japanese Architecture. (Cross-listed as Religion 15.) Historical survey of major developments in Japanese religious and secular architecture and gardens from pre-Buddhist times to the modern age. (May be taken at 100 level with consent; see below.) 

Religion

REL 8 Introduction to Buddhism. The history, doctrines, and practices of Buddhism in India, Sri Lanka, China, Korea, and Japan. Philosophical theories of the Buddha, meditation, and nirvana. Aspects of Buddhist social and institutional history.

REL 53 Asian Religions. A survey of the living religions of Asia from a historical point of view. Special attention is given to historical development, the major tenets of faith, and the distinctive ceremonies. Religions studied include Shintoism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

REL 55 Japanese Religion. A study of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism and their roles in Japanese society and culture, with attention to recent developments, including nationalistic Shinto and the new religions of Japan.

History

HIST 42 Japan to 1868. Prehistoric times to the eve of the Meiji Restoration. Emphasis upon early continental ties; Shinto, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions; Japanese feudalism; struggles for control of land and peasants; the changing composition of the ruling class; incipient capitalism of the Tokugawa period; breakdown of the Tokugawa order. Primary materials used in translation.  

HIST 43 Japan Since 1868. From the eve of the Meiji Restoration to the twentieth century. Topics include the unequal treaties with Western powers, the Meiji Restoration, early industrialization, growth of the imperialist state, fascism, war, defeat, recovery, and recent role as a member of the Western camp.  

HIST 133 Japanese History through Literature. Reading and discussion of primary sources with both historical and literary interest, including representative samples of chronicles, courtly diaries, war tales, novels, kabuki dramas. 

HIST 134 Tokugawa Japan. Japanese history from 1603 to 1868. Emphasis upon the Tokugawa legacy to modern Japan. Topics include commercial growth, the urban tradition, feudal-bureaucratic rule, philosophical and religious thought, education, gender and sexuality, and peasant rebellions. Prerequisite: History 69 or consent.  

HIST 135 Gender and Sexuality in Japanese History. Discussion of ancient matriarchy, marriage customs, the status of women in ancient courtly and medieval military society, female samurai, childhood, initiation rites, monastic and samurai homosexuality, male and female prostitution, ruling-class "deployment" of sexuality, and the appeal of androgyny in theater and other arts.

Political Science

PS 131 Critical Issues Confronting Japan. Examines contentious debates within Japan regarding its politics, economy, and society, as well as foreign policy, from global and comparative perspectives. Topics include the Emperor, constitutional revision, one-party dominance, civil society, gender inequality, immigration, nuclear power, U.S.-Japan alliance, and relations with China and Korea.