2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

World Beyond: The Illusive and Grotesque in Japanese Literature and Film

Spring quarter

Faculty: Setsuko Tsutsumi comparative literature, Japanese studies

Fields of Study: aesthetics, literature and media studies

Spring: CRN (Credit) Level 30388 (16) So - Sr; 30608 (1-16) So - Sr  

Credits: 16(S)

Class Standing: Sophomore - Senior

Offered During: Day


Fantasy literature has been enjoying a renewed recognition since 1960s. As if it is the token of growing interest in the genre, we find ourselves surrounded by increasing numbers of science fiction, grotesque stories, surrealistic stories, and Anime. Why are they gaining such popularity? What are the phenomena telling us? This program will explore major Japanese fantasy literature in an attempt to delineate the nature and characteristics of fantasy literature and film. Japanese literature has a long tradition of crossing borders between the real and unreal. Examination of its themes and methods, along with its historical changes, will help us, in a microcosmic way, to explain the surge of the genre and the social needs which called for their emergence. 

We will first examine the tradition of the illusive quality in major classical works such as the great novel of the early eleventh century, The Tale of Genji, and apparition Noh plays of the fifteenth century. We will analyze their non-human qualities and the ways they transcend the limitations of time and space in order to explore the mysterious inner workings of the human mind.  After studying ghost stories of the eighteen century, we will continue to explore the works in modern times: unique Gothic works of Izumi Kyoka; Soseki's Ten Nights of Dreams, which critics once stated as "Beginning of Modern Japanese Fantasy"; and Yasunari Kawabata’s House of the Sleeping Beauties, which demonstrates his unique aesthetics.  We will also address the theme of urban fantasies in contemporary literature. With the development of capitalism and technology, the urban cities became the space of mazes and an epidemic reflecting our anxiety and isolation. The demonic, grotesque, and nonsense nature of mega cities were well reflected in various genres of literature and films. We will analyze the form of the fantasy in those works and attempt to define their significance.  

Through our examination of the works in the program, we hope to clarify what we need to set us free from the confines of realism and project our mind through supernatural or uncanny phenomena.

Maximum Enrollment: 25

Preparatory for studies or careers in: Japanese literature, Japanese film, and Japanese studies.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: No Required Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 3rd, 2011 New program added.