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Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, Modernity
About this courseSkip About this course
This course is taught by MIT, Harvard, and Duke historians, and was developed in a first-time collaboration between HarvardX and MITx. Japanese history is seen in a new way through the images made by those who were there. You will examine the skills and questions in reading history through archival images now in the digital realm.
The course looks at the methodologies historians use to “visualize” the past, the themes of Westernization, in Commodore Perry’s 1853-54 expedition to Japan; social protest, in Tokyo’s 1905 Hibiya Riot; and modernity, as seen in the archives of the major Japanese cosmetics company, Shiseido.
- Introduction: New Historical Sources for a Digital Age (Professors Dower, Gordon, Miyagawa). Digitization has dramatically altered historians' access to primary sources, making large databases of the visual record readily accessible. How is historical methodology changing in response to this seismic shift? How can scholars, students, and the general public make optimal use of these new digital resources?
Module 1: Black Ships & Samurai (Professor Dower). Commodore Matthew Perry's 1853-54 expedition to force Japan to open its doors to the outside world is an extraordinary moment to look at by examining and comparing the visual representations left to us by both the American and Japanese sides of this encounter. This module also addresses the rapid Westernization undertaken by Japan in the half century following the Perry mission.
Module 2: Social Protest in Imperial Japan: The Hibiya Riot of 1905 (Professor Gordon). The dramatic daily reports from participants in the massive "Hibiya Riot" in 1905, the first major social protest in the age of "imperial democracy" in Japan, offer a vivid and fresh perspective on the contentious domestic politics of an emerging imperial power.
Module 3: Modernity in Interwar Japan: Shiseido & Consumer Culture (Professor Weisenfeld, with Professors Gordon and Dower). Exploring the vast archives of the Shiseido cosmetics company opens a fascinating window on the emergence of consumer culture, modern roles for women, and global cosmopolitanism from the 'teens through the 1920s and even into the era of Japanese militarism and aggression in the 1930s.
Other Visualizing Cultures courses you may be interested in: Visualizing the Birth of Modern Tokyo (VTx) and Visualizing Imperialism and the Philippines (VPx).
At a glance
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
- Methodologies to "visualize" Japanese history between the 1850s and 1930s
- An understanding of Westernization, social protest, modernity in Japanese history through digital imagery
- Strategies for learning--and teaching--history through visual sources
More about this courseSkip More about this course
The course is based on the MIT "Visualizing Cultures" website devoted to image-driven research on Japan and China since the 19th century (visualizingcultures.mit.edu).
In addition to MITx and HarvardX, this project is supported by the U.S. Japan Foundation, the University of Tokyo, and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.
MITx requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. MITx will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the MITx course; revocation of any certificates received for the MITx course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations.