21G.039J | Fall 2015 | Undergraduate

Gender and Japanese Popular Culture


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

This course examines Japanese popular culture with a focus on gender issues, alongside consideration of sexuality, ethnicity and class. We examine the relationships between identity and participation in Japanese popular culture, and offer 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, Japanese video games, contemporary literature, 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 gender and popular culture. Several films will be screened outside of regular class meeting times. This course is taught in English.

Graduate students may take the class with permission of the instructor. Grad students will be expected to do some extra work beyond the undergraduate requirements.

This course may be taken as 21G.591, which indicates the Japanese language option. This designates the same course, but with additional work required (reading and a short essay) in the Japanese language. Students who wish to minor in Japanese are required to take one course with the Japanese language option.

Course Requirements and Grading Distribution

Participation 15%
Pecha Kucha 5%
Microtheme Response Papers 10%
Essay 1 20%
Essay 2 15%
Oral Presentations 10%
Final Paper 25%

There will be no final exam. For more detail on the above, see the Assignments section.

Required Texts

There are no required texts for this class. Assigned readings can be found in the Readings section.

Grading of Written Work

Written work will be graded according to three criteria:

  • Argument. Is there a coherent thesis? How clearly is the argument stated in the introduction and developed throughout the paper? 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?
  • Style. How well is the paper written? Has it been carefully proofread? Do the introduction and conclusion accurately reflect the paper’s argument? Do transitions work to develop the essay, point by point? Does the paper length match the assignment?

Oral Presentations

Student presentations will take place during the final few weeks of class (10 min. each, depending on number of students). Grading of oral presentations will be determined by following criteria:

  • Does the oral discussion demonstrate a facility with the course materials?
  • How well organized is the presentation?
  • How well does the student communicate his / hers ideas, questions, and insights?

The Writing and Communication Center at MIT

The Writing and Communication Center at MIT offers free one-on-one professional advice from communication experts (MIT lecturers who all have advanced degrees and who are all are published writers). The WCC works with undergraduate and graduate students and with post-docs. The WCC helps you strategize about all types of academic, creative, job-related, and professional writing as well as about all aspects of oral presentations (including practicing your presentations & designing slides). No matter what department or discipline you are in, we help you think your way more deeply into your topic, help you see new implications in your data, research and ideas. The WCC also helps with all English as Second Language issues, from writing and grammar to pronunciation and conversation practice.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Presentation Assignments