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WasedaX: Uncovering the Voices of Japanese Literature

This course explores issues of agency in premodern and modern Japan. Discover many facets of the Japanese literary, theatrical, and intellectual traditions which, although important, are rarely taught around the world.

5 weeks
2–3 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Nov 29

About this course

Skip About this course

Japanese literature has a long and diverse tradition, dating back more than a thousand years. From Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji to the novels of Murakami Haruki, its many masterpieces are read and loved throughout the world. The historical process of writing, however - who gets to write whose stories, when, and how? - and many of the formal traits of the Japanese literary arts related to agency remain unquestioned. We believe a basic knowledge of how artists developed their sense of autonomy within the strictures of historical society is crucial to understand, appreciate and enjoy this long tradition.

This course will explore a number of writers and works from the ancient times of Japan through to the early modern Edo era and into the twentieth century. Key aspects of the course will include how the historical trajectory of women's experiences were reflected in literary or theatrical genres; the social spaces in which poetry and visual art emerged and became shared; and how Japanese thinkers have envisioned human imagination throughout history. One important concept recurring through the course will be the human "voice." We shall attempt to uncover some of these voices, including but not limited to the voices of women, together with their told and untold experiences.

This course will provide you with an introduction and a basis for further study in Japanese history, culture, literature, arts, and other areas which you may intend to explore in the future.

At a glance

  • Institution: WasedaX
  • Subject: Literature
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:

    An interest in learning about the historical development of foreign cultures.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How diverse voices were recorded and transmitted into popular storytelling, drama, and theater in the premodern era
  • How different Japanese writers used the motif of psychological abnormality as the source for a truly “modern” art
  • Creatively reconsider some aspects of the human imagination from a broadly comparative perspective

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