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Word and Image in Premodern Japanese Culture: Reworking the Classics

Vak 2018-2019

Admission requirements

Students admitted to MA Asian Studies. Otherwise, please contact instructor.

Description

The interaction between word and image has played a pivotal role in the production of Japanese culture from court poetry to contemporary manga and anime. This course examines the historical role of literacy and knowledge of literary classics in the field of cultural production in premodern Japan. It uses a multidisciplinary approach combining literary, visual and material culture analysis. We will explore how standard themes, often taken from court literature, were continuously reworked and adapted, including through dialogic combinations of word and image and through humorous, fashionable and eroticised repackaging in the popular culture of early modern Japan. A particular focus will be on the related cultural performances of calligraphy, poetry and the pictorial arts. We will consider how people in premodern Japan used these cultural performances to create a sense of cultured community, temporarily crossing time and social status divides. Based on detailed case studies, we will explore how these cultural practices manifested themselves in cultured objects (scrolls, screens, albums, popular prints) and cultured spaces (parlors, gardens). By analysing the various ways in which the classics were reworked, we will consider more generally the cultural meanings of creativity and eccentricity in premodern Japan. In addition to detailed case studies, the course also introduces students to a range of exemplary scholarly texts in literary studies and in visual and material culture studies in English and (for those who are able) Japanese; to develop an awareness of relevant approaches, methodologies and schools; to develop a knowledge of the multidisciplinary way in which such approaches interact in the academic study of Japanese premodern cultures and societies; to give students the capacity to react critically to different approaches and form their own scholarly responses.

Course objectives

The course aims to introduce students to a range of exemplary scholarly texts in visual, art historical and literary studies in English and (for those who are able) Japanese; to develop an awareness of relevant approaches, methodologies and schools; to develop a knowledge of the multi-disciplinary way in which such approaches interact in the academic study of Japanese pre-modern cultures and societies; to give students the capacity to react critically to different approaches and form their own scholarly responses.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar (werkgroep) with lecture elements

Course Load

280 hours total
* Weekly seminars: 4 hours per week; 28 hours total
* Preparation for classwork: 6 hours per week; 84 hours total
* Preparation for presentation: 20 hours
* Written work: 148 hours

Assessment method

  • participation (including presentation) 35%
  • 4 position papers 25%
  • 1 term paper (± 3,000 words) 40%.

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

The end-term paper is written in two stages: a first version, which will be commented on, and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the final version, will get a failing grade.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. A new paper to replace the written work (65%) may be written if the overall mark for the course is “5.49” (=5) or lower. The deadline for this version will be determined in consultation. In the case of a re-write the overall grade will not exceed 6.0.

The course is an integrated whole. All categories must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Exam Review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.

Blackboard

Blackboard for course announcements, course documents, and assignments.

Reading List

to follow.

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Contact

Prof. dr. Ivo Smits