2017-2018 Catalog

JAPN 273 Popular Culture and Literary Traditions of Tokugawa Japan

This course examines literary traditions and aspects of popular culture in Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate (the feudal era of the 17th through mid-19th centuries), when education spread far beyond the elite samurai class and the people's literacy rate rose to an unprecedented level thanks to long-lasting peace and economic development. Included among various cultural activities to which the commoners now had access, were travel, literary compositions, and the humorous oral narrative called rakugo. In this course, we will primarily discuss women's travel diaries, a relatively understudied area that have come to light only recently, and explore how women's literary activities intersected with the cultural context of the time and how literary traditions carried on since ancient times are represented, transformed, and reinterpreted in their works. In addition to women's travel diaries, students will be introduced to a number of selected rakugo stories; through their comic characters real and fictional, historical and contemporary, we will investigate the imagination of townspeople who were among the major players of popular culture at the time. The course is given in English. Offered in alternate years.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Pre-1800
  • Regional Focus