JAPN 256 Confession and Deception in Japanese Literature

Last offered Spring 2014

Cross Listed as COMP266
Situated at the origins of Japanese literature are the beautiful and revealing diaries of ladies in waiting at the tenth-and eleventh-century court. Yet one of the most famous of these women turned out to be a man. For the next thousand years, Japanese literary tradition would place a premium on confessional writing, but the distortions and concealments of these narrators (and the authors hiding behind them) would always prove at least as interesting as the revelations. This course examines several centuries of Japanese literature to ask whether you can ever put your true self into writing; along the way I will ask you what you reveal, conceal, discover, or reinvent about yourself when you write about literature for a class like this. Texts will range from classical and medieval court literature by Sei Shônagon and Lady Nijô, through autobiographical and confessional novels by Sôseki, Tanizaki, Mishima, and Abe Kôbô, to documentary and subculture films like The New God and Kamikaze Girls. The class and the readings are in English; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation, 2 or 3 short response assignments, one test, two 5-page papers, and an ungraded creative project
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Prerequisites: none; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required
Enrollment Preference: given to students majoring or considering a major in Comparative Literature
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Divisional Attributes: Division I
Other Attributes: INST East Asian Studies Electives
Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 3700
JAPN 256 SEM Japanese Lit: Confession Division 1: Languages and the Arts Christopher A. Bolton
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