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Scudder misses y’all but is happy to be back in Tennessee

I conceived of this as a project for an upper division seminar or a graduate seminar. The approach would involve didactic lectures for the first month (e.g., genres such as yakuza, samurai, new wave; forms and styles; influence of the arts; noteworthy directors) and overview of the relevant macro-level concerns that affect(ed) Japanese cinema. The class will be divided so that each of the following topics is covered by at least one individual; if a question is broken into part 1 and 2, at least one student would be assigned to each section. There will be no team projects, i.e., there may be more than one student per topic, but each will provide their own interpretation and their own paper. The papers will be due for presentation during the second half of the semester.

I. Delineate the influence of U.S. capitalism and the Hollywood studio system on the Japanese film system of the early 20th Century. To guide you, note the following statement by David Cook from A History of Narrative Cinema: “The Japanese cinema…evolved in nearly total isolation from the West until the end of World War II” yet later notes that “…the Japanese film industry [before World War II was] monopolized by three, and later five, major production companies, called zaibatsu, in a pattern remarkably similar to the American studio system.” How do you explain this phenomenon if there was nearly total isolation? The readings below will help you in your understanding. In a related issue, as you begin your argument, part of your task will be to conceptualize ‘nation’ in a country whose psychic and political/economic borders have been surprisingly fluid in the past 100 years. Below are additional readings by Hayward and Davis to help you understand this phenomenon.

Burch, Noel. To The Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese Cinema. Berkeley: U. of Ca. Press, 1973.
Cazdyn, Eric. The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics in Japan. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.
Cook, David. A History of Narrative Cinema. W. W. Norton & Company, 1996.
Davis, Darrell William. Picturing Japaneseness: Monumental Style, National Identity, Japanese Film. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1996.
Hayward, Susan. “Introduction: Defining the ‘national’ of a country’s cinematographic production.” National Cinema. New York and London: Routledge, 1993. 1-17.
Noletti, Arthur, Jr. and David Desser. Reframing Japanese Cinema: Authorship, Genre, History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. (In particular, Part III – History).
Standish, Isolde. A New History of Japanese Cinema: A Century of Narrative Film. New York: Continuum, 2005.

II. A great deal has been written concerning women’s role as exemplified in Japanese literature and film. As there are no monolithic accountings, the essentialisms of woman, Asian, African-American, and gay/lesbian/transgender all tend to obscure the complexity of human existence and interaction. With this in mind, determine how women are portrayed in two of the following five films and relate your findings to the theoretical evaluations in the listed readings. In particular, establish if the presentation is effective by careful exploration of how others may conceive and/or resist the normative. Is there one homogenous accounting? What were your original assumptions about women in Japan?; have they changed? Do not be alarmed at the more theoretical language in some of the readings; concentrate on what the argument is and how it relates to your viewings.

Ring series. Dir: Hideo Nakata (any of the series, concentrating on Sadako)

Audition. Dir: Takashi Miike, 1999.

Hotaru. Dir: Isao Takahata, 1988.

The Pornographers: An Introduction to Anthropology. Dir: Shohei Imamura, 1966.

Yoji, What's Wrong With You? Dir: Mako Idemitsu, 1987
Carrier, James G., Ed. Occidentalism : Images of the West. New York : Oxford University Press, 1995
Desser, David. Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
Hyland, Robert. “Hybridity in Contemporary Japanese Cinema: Heterogeneity in a Homogenous Society.” Asian Cinema, Drexel, PA, 13 (2), 2002.
Kono, Taeko. "Ants Swarm" (1964) in Lippit, Noriko Mizuta and Seldon, Kyoko Iriye (trans.). Japanese Women Writers: Twentieth Century Short Fiction. New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1991.

Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow and Atsuko Kameda (Eds.) Japanese Women: New Feminist Perspectives on the Past. Present and Future. New York: Feminist Press at CUNY, 1995.

Turim, Maureen. The Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese Iconoclast, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1998.

Washburn, Dennis and Carole Cavanaugh. Word and Image in Japanese Cinema. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Wawrytko, Sandra A. “The Murky Mirror: Women and Sexual Ethics as Reflected in Japanese Cinema.” In Fu, Charles Wei-hsun and Steve Heine, Eds. Japan in Traditional and Postmodern Perspectives. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.
Yoshimoto, Mitsuhiro. “Melodrama, Postmodernism and Japanese Cinema.” In Wimal, Dissanayake, Ed. Melodrama and Asian Cinema. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

III. Take the following historical terms/forms - noh, benshi, gendaigeki, Kabuki, keiko-eiga, shomingeki, and yakuza – and delineate how Kurosawa uses them in Ran and Dodeskoden. How does Kurosawa’s training in western art influence your interpretation? Then, do the reverse by defining similar historical traces in Shall We Dance, directed by Masayuki Suo. How does Suo’s early learning in pink films affect your interpretation?

(definitions of terms) Richie, Donald. A Hundred Years of Japanese Film. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2001: 296-298.
Barrett, Gergory. Archetypes of the Japanese Cinema: The Sociological and Religious Significance of the Principle Heros and Heroines. (London: Associated University Press, 1989)
Crogan, Patrick "Translating Kurosawa." Senses of Cinema (see Berkeley link below)
Dissanayake, Wimal. "Self, Agency, and Cultural Knowledge: Reflections on Three Japanese Films." In: Narratives of Agency: Self-Making in China, India, and Japan / Wimal Dissanayake, editor. pp: 178-201. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, c1996.
Erens, Patricia. Akira Kurosawa: A Guide to References and Resources. Patricia Erens. Boston: G. K. Hall, c1979. Series title: A Reference publication in film.
Schilling, Mark. Contemporary Japanese Film. New York: Weatherhill, 1999.
Yoshimoto, Mitsuhiro. Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema. Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 2000.

IV. Japanese film was the second largest film industry outside of the U.S. until WWII. Genre specific films are part of that legacy, as are international recognition of auteurs such as Kurosawa. Certainly, Japan’s economic ties to the West have meant a melding of styles and technologies and it would be hard to argue that Japan film is anything but a modern, industrialized product. However, here is the description of salient features of Third World cinema: “use of silence, long takes, angled camera, use of montage, muted acting style, cross-cutting, panning shots, a different concept of 'hero' (Gabriel, 1989)”. Do any of the films we have viewed from 1948-1980 embody this form? Which ones? What are some political and economic answers for this? Did these economic conditions enable Japan to excel in features such as Godzilla and, if so, how?

Burch, Noël. To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese Cinema. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.
Cazdyn, Eric. The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics in Japan. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.
Galbraith, Stuart. Monsters are Attacking Tokyo!: the Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films. Feral House; 1st ed edition, April 1, 1998.
Hirano Kyoko. Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo: Japanese Cinema under the American Occupation, 1945-1952. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992).
Noletti, Arthur, Jr. and David Desser. Reframing Japanese Cinema: Authorship, Genre, History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. (In particular, Part III – History).
Shapiro, Jerome . "When a God Awakes: Symbolism in Japan's Mysterious Creature Movies," The World & I (May 1998), 182-93.
Shapiro, Jerome. “1945 to 2001: Japan’s Atomic Bomb Cinema.” In Atomic Bomb Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2002.
Snyder, Stephen. The Transparent I: Self/Subject in European Cinema (Comparative Literary and Film Studies : Europe, Japan and the Third World, Vol 2). Peter Lang Publishing, 1994.
Standish, Isolde. A New History of Japanese Cinema: A Century of Narrative Film. New York: Contiuum, 2005.

V. Given the aging population in Japan, apply what you know of Japanese culture in relation to age based on the readings below, to analyze two of the following films: The Ballad of Narayam (1983); Afterlife (1999); Madadayo (1995); Tokyo Story (1953); or The Wash (Japanese version, 1988). Be certain to explore the economic terrain that informs this cultural condition. How does this situation compare to idealized Western notions of aging?

Demographic Change and the Family in Japan's Aging Society, edited by John W. Traphagan and John Knight. Albany: State University of New York Press
Ariyoshi, Sawako The Twilight Years, The Twilight Years (UNESCO Collection of Representative Works) Kodansha, 1995.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. Artist of the Floating World. 1st Vintage International Edition, October 1989
Kawabata, Yasunari The House of the Sleeping Beauties, Kodansha America; Reissue edition (December 1, 1993)
Nandi, Shivani. September 22, 2002. Taming Oblivion: Aging Bodies and the Fear of Senility in Japan. Pacific Affairs: University of British Columbia, vol 75, issue 3 page 468(2).
Traphagan, John W. The Practice of Concern: Ritual, Well-Being, and Aging in Rural Japan (Carolina Academic Press Ethnographic Studies in Medical Anthropology) by Carolina Academic Press (October 31, 2004).

VI. Part One. Ozu is often considered the most traditional of Japan’s filmmakers. Ozu’s visual and thematic sensibilities are embedded in a deceptive simplicity, immersed in notions of transcience and impermanence. Thus his films are often compared to the greatest of Zen art. Despite these and other traditional Japanese aesthetic influences, what specific factors argue against this notion of Ozu as the most Japanese of filmmakers?

Part Two. List three internationally renown directors outside of Japan who have been influenced by Ozu, note the specifics of that influence, and detail this influence through reference to specific scenes in their films. Both Ozu and Kurosawa have been declared humanists by modern Japanese filmmakers, from the New Wave on. What do you think? (Hint: What are the underlying messages of Rashomon and The Seven Samurai?). Be sure to defend your position with sound logic and solid references.
Bordwell, David. Ozu and the Politics of Cinema. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.
Davis, Darrell William. Ozu's Mother. In Ozu's Tokyo Story, Ed. David Desser. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997: 76-100.
Fowler, Edward. "Piss and Run: Or How Ozu Does a Number on SCAP.” In Word and Image in Japanese Cinema. Eds. Carole Cavanaugh and Dennis Washburn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, Chapter 12.
Geist, Kathe. Narrative Strategies in Ozu's Late Films. In Reframing Japanese Cinema: Authorship, Genre, History. Ed. Arthur Nolletti, Jr. and David Desser. Bloomington: Indiana, 1992: 92-112.

Geist, Kathe. Playing With Space: Ozu and Two-Dimensional Design in Japan In Cinematic Landscapes Eds. Linda C. Ehrlich and David Desser Austin, TX: University of Texas UP, 1994: 283-298

Hasumi, Shigehiko Director Yasujirō Ozu, Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo Publishing, Ltd., 1983.

Linduff, K. M. “Japanese Film: Ozu and the ‘Tokyo Story’,” In Art Past/Art Present, by D. Wilkins, B. Schultz and K. Kinduff. New York, 4th edition, 2000.
Ritchie, D. Ozu: His Life and Style Berkeley: Univeristy of Californai Press, 1970.
Shigekiho, Hasumi. Sunny Skies. In Ozu's Tokyo Story, Ed. David Desser. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997: 118-129 (trans. by Kathy Shigeta).
Tadao, Sato. The Study of the History of Cinema. 13 & 14 (1979): 96-98.
Thompson, Kristin and David Bordwell. Space and Narrative in the Films of Ozu,
Screen. Summer, 1976: 41-73.
Yoshimoto, Mitsuhiro. Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema. DurhamL Duke University Press, 2000.
A great link to information on Ozu from the New York Film Festival: www.

VII. How did Japanese film influence the work of U.S. experimental filmmakers, particularly during the period right before and after WWII? Christopher Benfey: "People talk about the Japanese influence on America; you might call this the 'particle theory' of cultural exchange. But what we see in the 150 years of Japanese-American interaction is something more complicated and harder to name. Maybe we need a 'wave theory' of cultural exchange, to explain the constant oscillation between East and West." Use the following sources to guide your search; each link will lead you to more resources (note: this topic, while having fewer readings, will involve extensive research):

Meshes of an Afternoon by Maya Derren (film)
Light Pharmacy: 5/Mental Radio and Tundra by Albert Gabriel Nigrin (films) (anime and japan influence on west)
Barnes, Steve. Independence Within Limits: The Influence of Alternative Cinema on American Independent Filmmaking. Persistence of Vision 6 (summer, 1988): 91-100.
Wonderful site for general information, and exceptional information on Japanese pop culture and anime:

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