COMP 255
Love and Death in Modern Japanese Literature Fall 2014
Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed COMP 255 / JAPN 255
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

One thing that surprises many first-time readers of modern Japanese fiction is its striking similarity to Western fiction. But equally surprising are the intriguing differences that lie concealed within that sameness. This course investigates Japanese culture and compares it with our own by reading Japanese fiction about two universal human experiences–love and death–and asking what inflections Japanese writers give these ideas in their work. The course begins with tales of doomed lovers that were popular in the eighteenth-century kabuki and puppet theaters, and that still feature prominently in Japanese popular culture, from comics to TV dramas. From there we move on to novels and films that examine a range of other relationships between love and death, including parental love and sacrifice, martyrdom and love of country, sex and the occult, and romance at an advanced age. We will read novels and short stories by canonical modern authors like Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima as well as more contemporary fiction by writers like Murakami Haruki; we will also look at some visual literature, including puppet theater, comics, animation, and Japanese New Wave film. The class and the readings are in English.
The Class: Format: seminar/lecture/discussion
Limit: none
Expected: 15
Class#: 1883
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: in-class exam, ungraded creative project, and two short papers (5-7 pages each) emphasizing original, creative, and convincing readings of the class texts
Prerequisites: none; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required
Distributions: Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 255 Division I JAPN 255 Division I
Attributes: INST East Asian Studies Electives

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