ASIA 203
Modern Japan Spring 2024
Division II
Cross-listed HIST 203
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course is intended to familiarize you with the history of modern Japan, the world’s third-largest economy and a dynamic influence on global culture. We will begin during the Edo Period (1600-1868), during which feudal (e.g., the status system) and more modern (e.g., a consumer society) features of Japanese life developed alongside each other. We will then examine the Meiji Restoration and explore how the Imperial Japanese state led Japan through modernization into total defeat by 1945. The course then looks at economic recovery and societal change during the postwar period, taking us up to the present day. Students will become familiar with several significant shifts in interpretation of key aspects of Japanese history. We will cover the rise and demise of the erroneous “national seclusion” narrative, the legislation of Japanese Emperor’s divinity, and the debate over Japan’s supposed ethnic and cultural distinctiveness. We will focus especially closely on the roles of class, gender, imperialism and foreign contacts in modern Japanese history. You are expected to critically analyze assigned primary and secondary sources and to communicate your ideas to your classmates effectively both orally and in writing. You are also expected to collaborate with your classmates to complete group activities. You will also conduct limited original archival research.
The Class: Format: lecture; This class features an immersive simulation, in which students will simulate the Meiji Restoration. The final project is a collaborative research project and presentation working with Japan-related sources from Williams's Special Collections.
Limit: 40
Expected: 20-25
Class#: 3851
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class participation, two 5-6 page essays, immersive simulation midterm, collaborative final research presentation
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: History majors, Asian Studies concentrators, then all others
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 203 Division II ASIA 203 Division II
Attributes: HIST Group B Electives - Asia

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