Introduction to Modern Japanese Literature and Culture (JAPANGEN 138, JAPANGEN 238)
This class introduces key literary texts from Japan's modern era (1868-present), locating these works in the larger political, social, and cultural trends of the period. Primary texts include: Futabatei Shimei's Floating Clouds, Higuchi Ichiyô's Child's Play, Natsume Sôseki's Kokoro, Kobayashi Takiji's Cannery Boat, Ôe Kenzaburô's The Catch, and Yoshimoto Banana's Kitchen. Examination of these literary works will be contextualized within larger political trends (e.g., the modernization program of the Meiji regime, the policies of Japan's wartime government, and postwar Japanese responses to the cold war), social developments (e.g., changing notions of social class, the women's rights movement, and the social effects of the postwar economic expansion), and cultural movements (e.g., literary reform movement of the 1890s, modernism of the 1920s and 30s, and postmodernism of the 1980s). The goal of the class is to use literary texts as a point of entry to understand the grand narrative of Japan's journey from its tentative re-entry into the international community in the 1850s, through the cataclysm of the Pacific War, to the remarkable prosperity of the bubble years in the 1980s.