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SC Seminar Performing Arts of Japan


Admission requirements



This course explores the role of the senses in Japan’s theatrical traditions and contemporary musical genres. From the visual spectacle of kabuki and the sonic overload of Japanoise to the use of music at protests against nuclear power, Japanese performing arts often elicit intense physical reactions. In this course, we examine how various uses of the body shape affects and ideas, focusing on issues such as the training of actors and musicians, the acquisition of listening skills, and the relationship between texts, music, and gestures. Case studies encompass a broad spectrum of genres, both traditional (gagaku, kabuki, Noh, bunraku, Nihon buyō) and contemporary (enka, J-pop, ambient, noise).

Course objectives

The main objective of this course is to introduce students to a variety of Japanese performing arts. At the end of the course, students will be able to place traditional and contemporary Japanese performing arts in their historical context and discuss their basic features. Students will also gain familiarity with key issues and concepts in the anthropological study of music and dance. The course will help students refining academic skills, including group presentations, locating academic sources in English and Japanese, planning a simple fieldwork activity, writing field notes and academic papers.


See timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 5 EC = 140 hours

  • Seminars (3 hours x 6 weeks) = 18 hours

  • Readings and webpostings (9 hours x 6 weeks) = 54 hours

  • Preparation group presentation: 5 hours

  • Fieldwork (including preparation): 15 hours

  • Research paper: 48 hours

Assessment method

  • Participation element (attendance, active participation, postings,): 40%

  • Analytical element (group presentation): 20%

  • Research element (fieldwork assignment, research paper 2,000-2,500 words): 40%

The final grade is the weighted average of all the elements.
There are no ‘resits’ for the participation element. Two deadlines will be provided for the submission of the paper. Students will have an opportunity to make an appointment with the instructor (in person or remotely) to discuss their grade.


All important information about the course, including the syllabus, course requirements, information on the course readings and announcements will be available on the course Blackboard. As part of class participation, students will also be required to make weekly postings on the course’s Discussion Board.

Reading list

  • Salz, Jonah (ed.). 2016. A History of Japanese Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Available online through the University Catalogue).

  • Tokita, Alison McQueen and David W. Hughes (eds). 2008. The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music. Aldershot: Ashgate. (See teacher’s shelf, East Asian library).

For additional readings, see Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. A. Giolai