History 271/aaas 271 Japan to 1600 Syllabus: Fall, 2003 Required Books

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1 HISTORY 271/AAAS 271

Japan to 1600
Syllabus: Fall, 2003
Required Books:
M. Hane, Premodern Japan. A Historical Study. Westview Press pb.

D. J. Lu, Japan. A Documentary History, vol. I. M. E. Sharpe/East Gate pb.

D. Keene, ed., Anthology of Japanese Literature. Grove Press pb.

R. Tyler, tr., The Tale of Genji (by) Murasaki Shikibu. Penguin Classic pb.

Scope of the Course:
At a point early in the 17th century – in the aftermath of the climactic battle of Sekigahara (1600), the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603 - 1868), and the storming of Osaka Castle (1615) – Japan was at last unified and largely free from the persistent civil warfare that had marked its history since the 12th century. The new regime soon decided that it would be best for Japan to isolate itself from virtually all external influences – especially those of the Western imperial powers – and to eliminate Christianity, in their minds the vanguard of Western control. Much later, as Japan was opened to the outside world, modernized, and became a world ‘player’, the Japanese became interested once again in their early history and, in the service of a national self-image, to reinvent it.
This course examines Japanese history, society, and culture from its prehistoric origins until the early 17th century. Employing primary historical and literary sources, as well as the fruits of research by modern Japanese and non-Japanese scholars, we will explore such issues as: state and power; Chinese and Korean influences; religion (Shinto, Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity); Confucian models; the roles of emperors, warriors, regents and shogun; values; masterpieces of Japanese literature (poetry, novels, mythic narratives, historical records, diaries, and drama); economy; class (aristocrats, samurai, daimyo, peasants, and merchants), and art & architecture.
You are responsible for all the assigned readings and materials covered in class. I will introduce a lot of material not dealt with extensively, if at all, in the textbook. Missing class is not a good idea; if you must, get the notes from someone else in class.
There will be two examinations: an in-class mid-term (one essay) and a final (two essays). On both examinations, you will have a choice of questions. The final will not be cumulative. In addition, all students will be expected to write a 5-7 page paper on The Tale of Genji; this is not a research paper and you may use the book in writing your essay. A list of topic suggestions appears on the last page of this syllabus.
Topics and Readings Guide
The following is an approximate guide to the readings and the number of classes I intend to devote to the various topics. I will provide periodic updates, since some adjustments may prove necessary, depending on class response to the material. Please note that October 6th and November 7th are the only dates on which I will not hold class. As a rule, you should make every effort to stay ahead in the reading.
The Tale of Genji imposes a particular obligation to begin reading early in the semester. While we will read only chaps. 1-41, that is still a great deal of reading. Tyler provides excellent information at the head of each chapter and in the footnotes; do not ignore those aids. It would be wise to take notes on the readings.
Sept. 3: Introduction to the Course
Sept. 5: Problems in Japanese Historiography

READ: Hane, 1-4; Lu, 36-39.
Sept. 8: Japanese Language and Writing Systems
Sept. 10: The Geography and Ecology of Japan

READ: Hane, 5-8.
Sept. 12,15: Japan: Mythohistory and Prehistory

READ: Hane, 9-15; Lu, 3-11; Keene, 19-30, 54-58.
Sept. 17-22: Japan, ca. 300 - 794 C.E.

READ: Hane, 15-43; Lu, 11-36, 39-50; Keene, 33-53, 59-60.
Sept. 24 -

Oct. 17: Heian Japan: 794 - 1185

READ: Hane, 44-60, Lu, 51-104; Keene, 63-105, 137-76; Tale of Genji, Intro. and chaps. 1-41.
October 20: ******* MID-TERM EXAMINATION *******
Oct. 22-

Nov. 5: The Age of the Kamakura bakufu: 1185-1333

READ: Hane, 61-85; Lu, 105-53; Keene, 179-228.
Nov. 10-21: The Muromachi (or Ashikaga) Period: 1333-ca. 1560

READ: Hane, 86-110; Lu, 147-81; Keene, 231-331.
Nov. 24-

Dec. 5: The Age of the Unifiers: ca. 1560 - 1600.

READ: Hane, 111-34; Lu, 181-201.
Dec. 8-12: The Tokugawa Settlement: 1600 - ca. 1650

READ: Hane, 130-56; Lu, 203-25.

History 271/AAAS 271 is a 4-credit course that meets M, W, F 10:50 - 11:50.

Instructor: Professor Gerald E. Kadish

Office: LT 609

Office phone (and voice mail): 777-2488
E-mail address: kadishg@binghamton.edu
Office hours: M 3:30 - 4:30; W 9:40-10:40, Th 1:10-2:30 and by appointment.

Themes in “The Tale of Genji”
The following is a list of themes or topics to pau attention to as you read The Tale of Genji. It is by no means exhaustive, but should give you some idea of the dort of thing you might write about in your brief paper. If other topics occur to you, feel free to let me know. The topics below are in no particular order.
The paper is due on November 10, 2003 and is to be 7-5 pages in length. I will not read past page 7, so curb any propensity toward wordiness. The essay should be well organized and written in clear, idiomatic English.
Gossip Clothing/costumes

Tears/weeping Friendship (male and female)

Self-deprecation The role of the Lotus Sutra

Perfume Sex

Calligraphy/paper/ink/branch Commoners/servants

Metaphors of beauty Personal space/privacy/female seclusion

Relationship between the poetry and the prose Shinto: practices, shrines

Poetry contests Buddhist practices, temples

Murasaki’s authorial intrusions into the narrative

Attitudes toward death

Promotions: during lifetime and post mortem

Gift giving

Worry about what people might think




Priests, monks, nuns

Ghosts, demonic forces, possession

Attitudes toward women (by men/by women)

Women’s attitudes towards men

Marriage/ husbands, wives, concubines

Elite sports

Festivals and processions

The Moon



Responses to illness

Music: dancing, singing, playing instruments

Elite attitudes toward the provinces

Pilgrimages to shrines/temples


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