ASIA 318
A History of the Samurai Spring 2023
Division II
Cross-listed HIST 316 / ASIA 318

Class Details

It is difficult to find a person unaware of the samurai. However, most people, both in Japan and abroad, engage with their idealized images rather than as an actual historical phenomenon. The aim of this course is to bring the samurai to life as a distinct status group that left an indelible mark on the history of Japan, and thereby to separate fact from fiction. We will also explore the creation of iconic images of the samurai, which continue to influence worldwide popular culture. We will use academic readings, primary sources, and other media to examine the samurai from their origins during the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries) to their official dissolution in the late 19th century. We will focus on their development as a special status group and explore how they managed to maintain their corporate identity for so long. We will trace the evolution of the samurai from rural enforcers to territorial magnates to bureaucrats. This evolution affected and was affected by the development of samurai warfare, ethics, aesthetics, religious practices, ideas relating to gender roles and other aspects of samurai life, which we will explore. We will see how these ideas and practices mediated their relations with household, society, and government. Finally, we will examine why samurai status was abolished at the start of the Meiji period, and how former samurai transformed into modern citizens. Students will engage in discussion, write essays, and complete immersive historical simulation assignments.
The Class: Format: lecture; This class features a semester-long immersive historical simulation where students work in teams to create samurai clans and navigate historical, as well as historically plausible, scenarios.
Limit: 25
Expected: 15-20
Class#: 3997
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class participation, map creation assignment, four 2-page essays, semester-long immersive simulation (Samurai clan creation), final 6-page essay
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 316 Division II ASIA 318 Division II
Attributes: HIST Group B Electives - Asia

Class Grid

Updated 12:30 am

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