nl en

HUM Seminar History and Arts


Admission requirements

This course is only accessible for BA Japanstudies students. Students must have successfully completed their propedeuse, two BA2 seminars and the course Texts IIb.

Admission to a cluster seminar happens only through application via the head of the programme board or coordinator of studies (deadline for application June 9).


**Popular Prints and Power in Nineteenth-Century Japan **

In the nineteenth century, popular prints did more than simply afford a temporary escape from Tokugawa control. As the Tokugawa order crumbled under external and internal pressures, popular prints started to articulate people’s concerns about contemporary realities. This course explores the power of popular prints to democratise knowledge about current events at a time when ordinary people had no political stake in the Tokugawa order. We will take a local perspective by analysing popular prints produced in nineteenth-century Edo. The witty designs of these prints, which often contain some text, appear innocent at first glance but their sources and functions were diverse: By alluding to contemporary customs, popular religion and the ghostly imaginary, satirical prints entertained viewers, celebrated popular culture, and poked fun at samurai authority. Prints depicting ghosts and other supernatural things were magical objects that protected their owners from disaster and disease. Illicit broadsheets conveyed rumours and provided biting commentary on current events. This course will give an insight into the functions of popular prints as media that helped ordinary people cope with the challenging realities of nineteenth-century Japan at the cusp of modernity.

Course objectives

This course aims to train students in

  • critical use of English and Japanese academic texts to make an argument,

  • critical analysis of primary sources, especially the visual analysis of popular prints,

  • digital research skills, especially using databases effectively to find and analyse popular prints as primary sources to support an argument.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Participation (attendance of minimally 70%; minimally 5 webpostings out of 6; participation in discussing the texts in class, research paper presentation): 50%

  • Research paper (3,000 words): 50% - the research paper must use minimally five sources and include one Japanese academic article that is minimal 12 pages long.



The final mark for the course is established by (i) determination of the weighted average combined with (ii) additional requirements: The combined score of the five webposts must be 5.5 or above.


There is a two-deadline policy for all papers; for those who miss this deadline, this means they have failed on the first attempt. Those who fail on the first attempt—whether by not submitting a paper by the first deadline, or by submitting an inadequate paper—will have one more (second and last) chance to submit their paper by the second deadline. As for all assessments, rules for legitimate extenuating circumstances apply.

Reading list

Not applicable


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

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


Not applicable