nl en

SOSCI Lecture Material Culture of Modern Japan


Admission requirements

Visit MyTimetable.


Materiality is fundamental for the understanding of every society and culture. At work, at rest, at play, whether other people are involved or not, material things accompany the activities of our body and provide the environment for everything we do. We also express ourselves through the way we live with and use objects.
This course will focus on objects that constitute the core of daily life in contemporary Japan, from modes of transportation and communication to food and clothing. We will concentrate on two processes: 1) Westernization of Japanese material culture since the early twentieth century; and 2) the global spread of new forms of Japanese material culture that had emerged as a result of domestication of foreign elements.

Course objectives

The main objective of this course is to explore contemporary Japan from a micro-perspective, illuminating the impact of historical forces on everyday life. Furthermore, the course will introduce students to material culture studies, a multidisciplinary field of study that focuses on the relationship between human beings and material objects. Finally, the course is intended to help student to develop academic skills, in particular critical analysis of textual and visual sources.


See Timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method

  1. Participation element (group presentations): 30%
  2. Analytical element (final exam): 70%

In order to pass the course the students must receive a passing grade (6 or higher) for the exam. The final mark will be determined as the weighted average of the two elements. Students who fail the participation element will have an opportunity to submit a 1000 word essay.

Resit for the final exam will be scheduled.

Debriefing exam:
Students may make an individual appointment with the instructor within 30 days of the announcement of the exam grades in order to view their exam.

Reading list

Readings will be available for download from Blackboard/BrightSpace or via the University Library.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Contact information: Prof. dr. K.J. Cwiertka