2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Japan Today: Japanese History, Literature, Cinema, Culture, Society and Language


Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 quarters

Harumi Moruzzi cultural studies, film studies, literature , Tomoko Hirai Ulmer
Fields of Study
cultural studies, history, international studies, language studies, literature and moving image
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Japanese literature and culture, film studies, cultural studies and international relations.

Japan is a vital, energetic and dynamic society that is constantly reinventing itself even while struggling to maintain a semblance of cultural and social continuity from the long lost past. Meanwhile, the conception and image of Japan, both in Japan and the West, has varied widely over time mostly due to Japan’s changing political and economic situation in the world. In the late 19th century when Japan re-emerged into Western consciousness, Lafcadio Hearn, the Greek-Irish-American writer who later became a Japanese citizen, thought of Japanese society and its people as quaintly charming and adorable, whereas Americans in the 1940s viewed Japan as frighteningly militaristic and irrational. While the French semiotician Roland Barthes was bewitched and liberated by Japan’s charmingly mystifying otherness during his visit to Japan in 1966, when Japan began to show its first sign of recovery from the devastation of WWII, the Dutch journalist Karel Van Wolferen was disturbed by the intractable and irresponsible system of Japanese power in 1989, when Japanese economic power was viewed as threatening to existing international power relations. As is clear from these examples of how Japan was viewed by Westerners in the past, the idea and image of Japan is highly dependant on the point of view that an observer assumes.

This is a full-time interdisciplinary program devoted to understanding contemporary Japan, its culture and its people, from a balanced point of view. This program combines the study of Japanese history, literature, cinema, culture and society through lectures, books, films, seminars and workshops, with a study of Japanese language, which is embedded in the program. Three levels of language study (1st, 2nd, and 3rd-year Japanese) will be offered for 4 credits each during the fall and winter quarters. The language component is offered by Tomoko Ulmer in the evening.    

In fall quarter we will study Japan up to the end of American occupation. We will emphasize cultural legacies of the historical past.  In winter quarter, we will examine Japan after 1952. Special emphasis will be placed on the examination of contemporary Japanese popular culture and its influence on globalization. Although this program ends officially at the end of winter quarter, students who are interested in experiencing Japan in person can take Japanese language classes in Tokyo through Harumi Moruzzi’s Individual Study: Japanese Culture, Literature, Film, Society and Study Abroad in spring quarter. 

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$15 for museum entrance fees in fall; $35 for theater tickets in winter.
Internship Possibilities
Teaching Japanese language, under Tomoko Ulmer's supervision.
Offered During
Day and Evening

Program Revisions

Date Revision
May 9th, 2011 Tomoko Ulmer has joined the teaching team; enrollment has been adjusted.