Japanese

Yukiko Shigeto

Wakako Suzuki

 

About the Program

The courses in Japanese language and literature will provide an opportunity for an in-depth study of modern Japanese language and acquiring literary and cultural knowledge of Japan. Students will gain both oral and written language proficiency and literary analysis skills.

Learning Goals

  • Language Competency: Through sequentially structured language courses and a wide range of courses in Japanese culture, students will develop the linguistic skills necessary to speak, listen, read, and write in a range of social contexts. Advanced language courses prepare students to take an N2 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
  • Culture: Through the exploration of literary and cultural histories of Japan, students will be able to articulate an appreciation and understanding of how modern cultural products of Japan, ranging from film, anime, and books, are fostered on the rich cultural tradition of the past.
  • Critical Thinking: Through intense study of the Japanese language, students will gain a critical distance from their first language and naturalized frame of reference. This distance will enable them to practice ethical comparativism in engaging with cultures different from their own.
  • Research Experience: Students will be able to use Japanese-language sources for the purpose of writing analyses of literary and cultural topics.

Advisory Information

Placement in Language Courses: Students with previous language experience in Japanese must take a placement test in order to enroll. Contact Professor Shigeto to arrange a meeting.

Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy course and credit requirements for the major or minor after the major or minor has been declared.

Programs of Study

Courses

Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course introduces students to selected works of Japanese literature from the 20th century. The course will cover a wide range of prose fiction including autobiographical fiction, realist and fantastic novels as well as works in popular literature genres, including detective and satirical fiction. We will explore the ambivalent ways in which Japanese writers incorporated Western literary theories and concepts into the domestic literary tradition in their efforts to create a “modern Japanese literature.” In addition to the impact of industrialization on human perception and writers’ narrative modes, we will consider how modern printing technologies changed reading practices. Course taught in English. May be elected as Japanese 400.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course explores the theme of youth and adolescence in literary and cinematic works from late 19th-century to contemporary Japan. It examines how the development of industrial capitalism, Japanese colonialism, World War II, the US occupation, the regional Cold War order, the Japanese economic miracle, and the recent recession have been presented differently when we employ the perspective of youth. The course introduces the following key topics: sexuality, romance, friendship, same-sex love, education, family, ethnic identity, disability and anxiety. Particular issues that young people wrestle with have varied in each period. However, youth and adolescents have continuously grappled with the idea of "social identities" that navigate them into mature adulthood or socially expected gender norms, such as masculinity and femininity. Young people's hopes, dreams, disillusionment, frustrations, and struggles will be examined through selected literary and cinematic works, as well as music, visual images, and magazines. The historical approach to literary, cinematic, and other media works provides comparative context to bridge our understanding of representation and the social context negotiated by creators and recipients. May be elected as Japanese 423. This course may be taken for credit toward the Japanese major. May be taken for credit toward the Film and Media Studies or Gender Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)

This course explores a wide range of cultural expressions from premodern to contemporary Japan: epic narratives, local legends, folktales, urban legends, stories of the supernatural,  magic, music, religious festivals, manga, anime, and film. Rather than focusing on traditional sources in the study of Japanese culture (art and literature of the nobility, imperial anthologies, religious doctrines, etc.), we will consider non-elite modes of expression. Through our discussions and readings, we will also tackle some of the ideas and assumptions underlying the notion of the folk. Who are the folk? From when and where does the concept of a folk people originate inside and outside of Japan? Is the folk still a viable, relevant category today? How does it treat regional versus national identity? As we analyze the construction of this concept, we will consider its implications for the Japanese and our own perception of Japan. Includes works by Kunio Yanagita, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Fumiko Enchi, Kyōka Izumi, Shigeru Mizuki, Lafcadio Hearn, Akinari Ueda and many others. May be elected as Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 224 or Japanese 224. Distribution areas: Cultural Pluralism, Humanities, Global Cultures and Languages, The Individual and Society, Studying the Past.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Studying the Past (STP)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course introduces representative works in Japanese literature that address human-nonhuman relationships. We will explore how each work presents a cosmology of its own, released from strict nature-culture and subject-object divisions. While paying attention to specific anthropogenic environmental changes that the writers are responding to, we will also consider how their perspectives and attunement to surrounding presences- including the dead- might enhance our capacity to imagine a life with others on an imperiled planet. In addition to literary texts, some films and anime will be included. May be elected as Japanese 425.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)

This course examines the social construction of minority groups and the intersections with race, class, gender, and sexuality through the prism of films, literature, and other visual media. By examining the legacy of Japanese colonialism in Asia, the US occupation, the creation of the regional Cold War order, and the consumer society, the course will engage students with discussions of current literary and cultural systems, minority literature, Ainu and Okinawan cultures, non-fictional works on the Brazilian community and Filipino workers, residential Korean literature, Chinese literary culture, and African American culture. This course is based on the premise that films and literature are never merely diversion or entertainment. Instead, they provide us with stories, images, and scripts that enable us to understand different social identities, cultural ideologies, community formations, and institutional arrangements. By looking at literary and cinematic works, we aim to gain insights into how these representations consequently shape and influence our understanding of “people” in the real world. We will read literary works by Oe Kenzaburo, Kirino Natsuo, Ri Kaisei, Hirabayashi Taiko, Hayashi Fumiko, Murakami Haruki, and Yoshimoto Banana and examine films by Imamura Shohei, Ichikawa Kon, Kurosawa Akira, Kawase Naomi, Miyazaki Hayao and Mizoguchi Kenji. May be taken for credit toward the Film & Media Studies major or minor or the Gender Studies major or minor. May be elected as Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 226 or Japanese 226. Distribution areas: Humanities, Cultural Pluralism, Global Cultures and Languages, Power and Equity, Writing Across Contexts.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Writing Across Contexts (WAC)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

A theme of solitude runs through the veins of much of Japanese literature.  Through studies of selected works of some of significant writers from Japan, we will explore various literary renditions of solitude.  Our concern in this course extends beyond a sense of alienation from others to a more essential sense of estrangement from self, one’s own language, and conventional temporality.  We will also ruminate on solitude as an origin of literary imagination.  The list of writers may include Yukio Mishima, Kobo Abe, Kenzaburo Oe, Mieko Kanai, Haruki Murakami and Toh Enjoji. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major or Japanese major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

In this course we will explore selected works of Japanese fiction and film created during the “postmodern” period (from 1980 to the present.) During this period, the sense of belonging to a traditional community such as nation and family is said to have weakened—or perhaps dissipated altogether— in Japan. The overarching question we engage with is what kinds of different communities and subjectivities are imagined in and through literary and filmic texts during this period. Hence, we will not treat these works merely as representations of contemporary Japanese society but also as the sites where creative efforts to imagine different forms of community are unfolding. We will conduct close readings of each literary and filmic text and examine their varying functions within their socio-historical context particularly the economic bubble and subsequent recession. In order to do a contextual reading, along with assigned fiction and filmic texts, we will read works from such fields as cultural studies, anthropology, and critical theory. In so doing, students will be expected to constantly question their assumptions about contemporary Japanese culture and society. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major or Japanese major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

In this course we focus on the literary works and films of Japan’s post-WWII period from the mid-1940s through the 1970s and explore the ways in which writers and filmmakers responded to the social and cultural transformations brought about by war, defeat, occupation, and recovery. The main questions to be addressed include: How did writers and filmmakers engage with the question of war responsibility in and through their works? What does it mean to “take responsibility for war”? How do their works, at both levels of form and content, critique and undo the official national narrative that largely coincided with the modernization theory put forth in the early 1960s? How long does the “postwar” last? Taught in English. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major or the Japanese major or minor. May be elected as Japanese 438.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Credits 4

This course introduces basic grammar patterns, hiragana, katakana, and kanji, while providing the student with the opportunity to practice conversational skills and to read cultural and literary materials. 4 periods per week plus 1 period of Conversation Session outside of the class with a native speaker.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Prerequisites

Prerequisite for Japanese 106: Japanese 105.

Credits 4

This course explores selected topics in Japanese. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Credits 4

This course continues to introduce new grammar patterns and kanji, while providing the student with the opportunity to practice conversational skills and to read cultural and literary materials. Course may meet up to five scheduled periods per week. 4 periods per week plus 1 period of Conversation Session outside of the class with a native speaker. 

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Prerequisites

Prerequisite for Japanese 205: Japanese 106; or consent of instructor.

Prerequisite for Japanese 206: Japanese 205; or consent of instructor.

This course explores a wide range of cultural expressions from premodern to contemporary Japan: epic narratives, local legends, folktales, urban legends, stories of the supernatural,  magic, music, religious festivals, manga, anime, and film. Rather than focusing on traditional sources in the study of Japanese culture (art and literature of the nobility, imperial anthologies, religious doctrines, etc.), we will consider non-elite modes of expression. Through our discussions and readings, we will also tackle some of the ideas and assumptions underlying the notion of the folk. Who are the folk? From when and where does the concept of a folk people originate inside and outside of Japan? Is the folk still a viable, relevant category today? How does it treat regional versus national identity? As we analyze the construction of this concept, we will consider its implications for the Japanese and our own perception of Japan. Includes works by Kunio Yanagita, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Fumiko Enchi, Kyōka Izumi, Shigeru Mizuki, Lafcadio Hearn, Akinari Ueda and many others. May be elected as Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 224 or Global Literatures 224. Distribution areas: Cultural Pluralism, Humanities, Global Cultures and Languages, The Individual and Society, Studying the Past.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Studying the Past (STP)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)

This course examines the social construction of minority groups and the intersections with race, class, gender, and sexuality through the prism of films, literature, and other visual media. By examining the legacy of Japanese colonialism in Asia, the US occupation, the creation of the regional Cold War order, and the consumer society, the course will engage students with discussions of current literary and cultural systems, minority literature, Ainu and Okinawan cultures, non-fictional works on the Brazilian community and Filipino workers, residential Korean literature, Chinese literary culture, and African American culture. This course is based on the premise that films and literature are never merely diversion or entertainment. Instead, they provide us with stories, images, and scripts that enable us to understand different social identities, cultural ideologies, community formations, and institutional arrangements. By looking at literary and cinematic works, we aim to gain insights into how these representations consequently shape and influence our understanding of “people” in the real world. We will read literary works by Oe Kenzaburo, Kirino Natsuo, Ri Kaisei, Hirabayashi Taiko, Hayashi Fumiko, Murakami Haruki, and Yoshimoto Banana and examine films by Imamura Shohei, Ichikawa Kon, Kurosawa Akira, Kawase Naomi, Miyazaki Hayao and Mizoguchi Kenji. May be taken for credit toward the Film & Media Studies major or minor or the Gender Studies major or minor. May be elected as Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 226 or Global Literatures 226. Distribution areas: Humanities, Cultural Pluralism, Global Cultures and Languages, Power and Equity, Writing Across Contexts.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Writing Across Contexts (WAC)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

A comprehensive grammar review plus continued instruction and practice in Japanese conversation, grammar, and composition. Focus on development of strong reading and translation skills in order to explore ways to recognize and communicate intercultural differences. Students must know how to use a kanji dictionary. 

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Prerequisites

Prerequisite for Japanese 305: Japanese 206; or consent of instructor.

Prerequisite for Japanese 306: Japanese 305; or consent of instructor.

Students who have not taken Japanese at Whitman previously are required to take an oral and written placement examination for entrance.

Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course introduces students to selected works of Japanese literature from the 20th century. The course will cover a wide range of prose fiction including autobiographical fiction, realist and fantastic novels as well as works in popular literature genres, including detective and satirical fiction. We will explore the ambivalent ways in which Japanese writers incorporated Western literary theories and concepts into the domestic literary tradition in their efforts to create a “modern Japanese literature.” In addition to the impact of industrialization on human perception and writers’ narrative modes, we will consider how modern printing technologies changed reading practices. Taught in English. Students electing to take Japanese 400 will complete some reading, writing, and discussion assignments in Japanese. May be elected as Global Literatures 222.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

The course will begin with a program to develop proficiency in the four communication skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing as well as cultural understanding. Approximately 250 kanji compounds will be introduced, and kanji introduced in the first, second, and third-year classes will be reviewed. The focus of the program will be to help students gain a broader background in Japanese language and culture by reading literary texts and essays, and to explore the challenges of translating those texts into English. Students also will be expected to express themselves orally without having to rely on heavily prefabricated phrases. May be repeated for credit.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Prerequisites

For Japanese 405: Japanese 306; or consent of instructor.

For Japanese 406: Japanese 405; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

This course explores the theme of youth and adolescence in literary and cinematic works from late 19th-century to contemporary Japan. It examines how the development of industrial capitalism, Japanese colonialism, World War II, the US occupation, the regional Cold War order, the Japanese economic miracle, and the recent recession have been presented differently when we employ the perspective of youth. The course introduces the following key topics: sexuality, romance, friendship, same-sex love, education, family, ethnic identity, disability and anxiety. Particular issues that young people wrestle with have varied in each period. However, youth and adolescents have continuously grappled with the idea of "social identities" that navigate them into mature adulthood or socially expected gender norms, such as masculinity and femininity. Young people's hopes, dreams, disillusionment, frustrations, and struggles will be examined through selected literary and cinematic works, as well as music, visual images, and magazines. The historical approach to literary, cinematic, and other media works provides comparative context to bridge our understanding of representation and the social context negotiated by creators and recipients. May be elected as Global Literatures 223. This course may be taken for credit toward the Japanese major. May be taken for credit toward the Film and Media Studies or Gender Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course introduces representative works in Japanese literature that address human-nonhuman relationships. We will explore how each work presents a cosmology of its own, released from strict nature-culture and subject-object divisions. While paying attention to specific anthropogenic environmental changes that the writers are responding to, we will also consider how their perspectives and attunement to surrounding presences- including the dead- might enhance our capacity to imagine a life with others on an imperiled planet. In addition to literary texts, some films and anime will be included. This course counts for Environmental Humanities credit. May be elected as Global Literatures 225.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Prerequisites

Japanese 306.

Credits 4
Cross-Listed

In this course we focus on the literary works and films of Japan’s post-WWII period from the mid-1940s through the 1970s and explore the ways in which writers and filmmakers responded to the social and cultural transformations brought about by war, defeat, occupation, and recovery. The main questions to be addressed include: How did writers and filmmakers engage with the question of war responsibility in and through their works? What does it mean to “take responsibility for war”? How do their works, at both levels of form and content, critique and undo the official national narrative that largely coincided with the modernization theory put forth in the early 1960s? How long does the “postwar” last? Taught in English. May be elected as Global Literatures 338. Students enrolled in this course (Japanese 438) will do writing and some of the reading assignments in Japanese.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Credits 1 Max Credits 4

This class is designed for students who have completed three years of college-level Japanese and who desire to pursue further study in Japanese language, literature, or culture. The instructor will choose texts on topics in which the student shows interest; students will read and prepare translations of selected readings and write a critical introductory essay.

Prerequisites

Japanese 306; or equivalent.

Credits 4

Designed to further independent research leading to the preparation of an undergraduate honors thesis in Japanese. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in Japanese major.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Prerequisites

Admission to honors candidacy.