Japanese Literature and the Atomic Bomb

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565: 315 “Japanese Literature and the Atomic Bomb”

Rutgers University

Spring 2009


Professor Paul Schalow

Scott Hall Rm. 325

Office Hours: Mon. & Thurs. 11:15-12:15, or by app’t

Tel. 732-932-5591 (leave message)

e-mail: schalow@rci.rutgers.edu

The U.S. nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 reverberate to this day in Atomic Bomb literature of Japan. In the course, students will read works of fiction and poetry by survivors addressing the atomic aftermath, view several documentary videos describing the development and deployment of nuclear weapons, and study feature-length films about the bombings. The goal is to develop an understanding of a literature of trauma that struggles to remember, represent, and redeem the dehumanizing effects of atomic warfare. All readings in English translation.

Students are required to submit a one-page response for each reading. Response sheets turned in on the due date earn 1 or 2 points, depending on my assessment of how well you have grasped the main points in the reading; late submissions not accepted. Three five-page papers on assigned topics required during the semester. Final grades based on fifteen responses (30%), three five-page papers (20% each), attendance (10%).

Five required texts can be purchased at the Rutgers Bookstore or Jersey Books.

  1. ŌE Kenzaburō, The Crazy Iris

  2. Richard MINEAR, Hiroshima: Three Witnesses

  3. IBUSE Masuji, Black Rain

  4. KURIHARA Sadako, When We Say Hiroshima: Selected Poems

  5. NAGAI Takashi, Bells of Nagasaki

Class Schedule

Jan. 22 (first class) Introduction to the course.

26 The Crazy Iris, ODA Katsuzō “Human Ashes” 63-84. Due: Response #1

29 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, HARA Tamiki “Translator’s Introduction” 21-40. Documentary film: “Hiroshima: City of Peace” (30 mins.)

Feb. 2 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, HARA Tamiki Summer Flowers parts 1 & 2 (“Summer Flowers” & “From the Ruins”) 41-78. Due: Response #2

5 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, HARA Tamiki Summer Flowers part 3 (“Prelude to Annihilation”) 79-113. Due: Response #3

9 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, ŌTA Yōko “Translator’s Introduction” 147-224.

Documentary film: “Hiroshima: the Legacy” (30 mins.)

12 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, ŌTA Yōko City of Corpses (An Autumn So Horrible Even the Stones Cry Out”-“The City: A Tangle of Corpses”) 147-224. Due: Response #4

16 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, ŌTA Yōko City of Corpses (“Relief” to “Late Autumn Koto Music”) 225-273. Due: Response #5

19 Due: First 5-page paper. Topic: Based on your reading of ODA Katsuzō’s “Human Ashes,” HARA Tamiki’s Summer Flowers, and OTA Yōko’s City of Corpses, describe the ways people died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Be sure to give specific examples from each story and discuss how the emphasis differs in each text. Which text gave you the most vivid sense of what it was like to be in Hiroshima in the minutes, hours, days, and months after it was bombed?

Documentary film: “Rain of Ruin: The Atomic Bombing of Japan” (70 mins.)

23 The Crazy Iris, ŌTA Yōko “Fireflies” 85-111. Due: Response #6

26 The Crazy Iris, TAKENISHI Hiroko “The Rite” 169-200. Due: Response #7

Mar. 2 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, TŌGE Sankichi “Translator’s Introduction” 277-300. Documentary film: “The Race for the Bomb” (45 mins.)

5 Hiroshima: Three Witnesses, TŌGE Sankichi Poems of the Atomic Bomb 305-369.

Due: Response #8

9 KURIHARA Sadako, When We Say Hiroshima: Selected Poems. Due: Response #9

12 Documentary film: “Rain of Ruin: the Bombing of Nagasaki” (60 mins.)

[March 14-22 Spring Break]

23 NAGAI Takashi, The Bells of Nagasaki. Due: Response #10

26 Due: Second 5-page paper. Topic: Based on your viewing of five documentary films in class, give an account of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Explain the technology of two bombs and how they were developed. Describe the dominant perspective that is presented in each documentary, and explain how that perspective impacts the film’s interpretation of the military and humanitary dimensions of the events. You must address at least three of the five documentaries in your paper.

Documentary film: “Children of Nagasaki” (45 mins.)

30 The Crazy Iris, HAYASHI Kyōko “The Empty Can”127-143. Due: Response #11

Apr. 2 The Crazy Iris, INOUE Mitsuharu “The House of Hands” 145-168. Due: Response #12

6 The Crazy Iris, SATA Ineko “The Colorless Paintings” 113-125. Due: Response #13

9 The Crazy Iris, IBUSE Masuji “The Crazy Iris” 17-35. Due: Response #14

13 Film: IMAMURA Shōhei “Black Rain” (120 mins.)

16 Film: IMAMURA Shōhei “Black Rain” (cont.).

20 IBUSE Masuji, Black Rain. Due: Response #15

23 Film: NAKAZAWA Keiji “Barefoot Gen” (100 mins.)

27 Film: NAKAZAWA Keiji “Barefoot Gen” (cont.)

30 Film: KUROSAWA Akira “Rhapsody in August” (98 mins.)

May 4 (last class) Film: KUROSAWA Akira “Rhapsody in August” (cont.)

8 May (Fri.) Due: Final 5-page paper. Topic: Briefly explain your preconceptions about the atomic bombings before you took this course, and then describe in detail your current thinking. Which genre or genres (fiction, poetry, documentary, feature-length film) did you appreciate the most, and why? Be sure to discuss at least one work from each genre that had the biggest impact in developing your new perspective.


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