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Confession and Deception in Japanese Literature
/ COMP 266
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.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
attendance and participation, a few short response assignments, one test, two 5-page papers, and an ungraded creative project
none; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required
students majoring or considering a major in Comparative Literature
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GBST East Asian Studies Electives