Jon P Holt
Selected major works of Asian literature. Taught on a rotational basis with the literary traditions of China, Japan, India covered in successive years. Content varies depending on specialization and interest of instructor. Primary emphasis on literary values of works and their tradition; attention also given to historical and social contexts and the thought and value systems of the culture involved.
How is a story told? What happens when the story is translated for the stage, for film, or for the graphic novel? This course examines the ways in which stories are constructed using masterworks of premodern and modern Japanese literature. We will examine a wide array of literary, dramatic, and pictorial endeavors by the Japanese to show, or tell, a story. Beginning with early tale literature from the Heian period (794-1185), including the The Tales of Ise and The Tale of Genji, students in this course will read the early narratives written by the aristocratic elites. Moving on through the medieval period (1185-1600), we discuss the shift in style and tone of the new warrior literature, including the Tale of the Heike, to analyze how warriors co-opted the literary culture of the previous age and developed their own aesthetics, culminating in the noh theatre. Building on a cultural base provided by Ise, Genji, and the Heike, students in this course will develop the ability to read Japanese literature across different genres (the poem tale, prose fiction, war tales, and classical theatre) and come to understand how the two aspects of narrative (representation of one?fs world and relationship to one?fs audience) is appropriated and modified by the writers over time. In the second half of the class, we will examine examples of early modern and modern Japanese literature including short stories and novels by celebrated writers such as Akutagawa and Mishima. We will also view films based on their works to compare how the cinema transforms literature and compare the strengths drama has over the written word, and vice versa. Finally, there is a manga component to the course where we will examine the changes that literary culture goes through at the hands of these artists.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Asian 263 has no prerequisites: it is an introductory course to the study of Japanese literature and drama. All readings are taught using the English translations of the originals. Students from all majors are encouraged to take this course to learn more about the literary and visual arts of Japan.
Class assignments and grading