Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
Examines Japanese popular culture as a way of understanding the changing character of media, capitalism, fan communities and culture. Topics include manga (comic books), hip-hop and other popular music in Japan, anime (Japanese animated films) and feature films, sports (sumo, soccer, baseball), and online communication. Emphasis will be on contemporary popular culture and theories of gender, sexuality, race, and the workings of power in global culture industries. Each student will be expected to present analysis of the course materials during in-class discussions and to develop a final project based on a particular aspect of J-Pop. Several films will be screened outside of regular class meeting times. No prerequisites. Course taught in English.
Course Requirements and Grading Distribution
||Throughout the term
||Two or three times each
|Essay 1 (5 pages)
||Due Week 5
|Essay 2 (5 pages)
||Due Week 9
|Final Paper (7-8 pages)
||Due the last day of class
There will be no final exam.
There are three (3) required texts. The texts will also be available on reserve at Hayden Library, so if cost is an issue, please be aware that you can read them there.
- Craig, Timothy, ed. Japan Pop!: Inside the World of Japanese Popular Culture. M. E . Sharpe, 2000.
- Kinsella, Sharon. Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000.
- Treat, John Whittier, ed. Contemporary Japan and Popular Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.
A few additional articles will be available on reserve at Hayden Library, and possibly online through E-Reserves.
There will be three significant writing assignments: two 5-page essays (due in Weeks 5 and 9), and a 7-8 page final project due on the last day of class. You will have a choice of essay topics, or with the approval of the instructor, they may be developed from the issues raised in discussions. I am happy to look at preliminary drafts of papers, but except for unusual circumstances, I do not accept rewrites. I would also encourage people to make use of the Writing Center as it is an excellent resource.
Papers will be graded according to three criteria:
- Argument. Is this thesis clearly stated? Do the steps of the argument make sense and lead logically to the conclusion?
- Evidence. How well does the essay use the evidence available from the class materials (readings, lectures, films)? Are there contradictory examples that should be discussed to eliminate doubts? How well are the examples used to support the argument?
- Style. How well is the paper written? Has it been carefully proofread? Are there clever turns of phrase, interesting transitions, a catchy opening and conclusion? Does the paper length match the assignment?
Short Weekly Assignments
I will regularly assign "microthemes" to assess your analysis of the readings, lectures, films, and performances. A microtheme is a one--page, double-spaced commentary, which is also designed to promote discussion. Please pick one observation or reaction and develop that in the microthemes, but do not try to display your entire mastery of the material. You may reserve that for the discussion. I grade these microthemes on a range of 1 (failing) to 5 (excellent). I will drop the lowest grade of the microthemes so you may skip one microtheme without penalty, though it is to your advantage to do them all. Microthemes must be handed in during the class when they are due, and, except for extraordinary circumstances, may NOT be made up. Quizzes may occasionally be used to test comprehension of reading assignments. I reserve the right to introduce other minor assignments during the course of the class.
Attendence and Class Participation
Because this class meets only twice a week, your attendence is required every single class period. Barring sickness or unavoidable family emergencies, I expect you in class. If you are going to miss class, I would like an email explanation prior to class. More than one unexcused absence will result in a reduction by 1/3 (e.g., B to a B-) of your final grade. Additional absences will result in additional reductions. I do not give warnings in the event that you are in danger of such a penalty. That said, if emergencies or health situations arise, please let me know, if possible beforehand, and in most situations that will count as an excuse.
I would also stress that student presentations form a key component of the course. Students will be asked to make short presentations throughout the term as a way of delving into the readings, films, and lectures, while also providing an opportunity to introduce the class as a whole to examples of culture and globalization that may not be directly treated in the reading assignments.
Attend two (2) Harvard University talks on Japanese Popular Culture
We are very fortunate that this semester, Harvard is running a special series of talks related to Japanese popular culture and they have invited some of the leading scholars in the field. I am cancelling two (2) of our regularly scheduled meetings, and requiring that you attend two (2) of the six scheduled talks at Harvard. A list of talks, speakers, times, and locations appears at the end of this syllabus. You are of course welcome to attend more than two, but you receive credit only for two of them.
You are required to submit a microtheme (one-page, double-spaced) for each of the two talks you attend. Please discuss an interesting or important point made during the talk. You may also use the microtheme as an opportunity to critique some of the readings, based on the talk, or to critique the talk, based on one of the readings.