Representations of the Past in Popular Culture 2019

This course has finished.


This is the website for my class taught on Friday Period 3 in the autumn term.

Syllabus: 312114-多言語・多文化社会論概論B

Grading Rubric: Representations of the Past in Popular Culture 2019

Weekly Homework: Review the class materials and do other reading in preparation for the end of term essay (10 January). The Active Learning report deadline is 6 December.

Materials: This course is English, but many materials are in Japanese. There is no course text. Relevant materials are given out each time.


Week 1 (4 October): Course introduction: What is “history”? What is “culture”? How do we study them? Let’s start by watching a video of a lecture by Stuart Hall, one of the biggest names in Cultural Studies.

Reading: Aleksandra Jaworowicz-Zimny: “Kando Conservatism: ‘Moving’ Narratives in Japanese Online Fan Videos”; David McNeill: “Japan’s History Wars and Popular Consciousness”.

Week 2 (11 October): The End of the Shogunate part 1. Comparing the documentaries Sono Toki Rekishi Ga Ugoita and Rekishi Hiwa Historia with reference to Hijikata Toshizo and Saigo Takamori.

Materials are here: 20191011 Past in Pop Culture Wk 2 HO.

Reading: Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, “Rekijo, pilgrimage and ‘pop spiritualism’: pop-culture-induced heritage tourism of/for young women”.

Week 3 (18 October): The End of the Shogunate part 2. Film/drama and history, with a focus on NHK’s Taiga Drama and the Assassination of Sakamoto Ryoma.

Materials are here: 20191018 Past in Pop Culture Wk 3 HO

Reading: Philip Seaton, “Taiga Dramas and Tourism: Historical Contents as Sustainable Tourist Resources”

Homework: Read the materials given out in class and also look through the Tomioka Silk Mill homepage.

Week 4 (25 October): Women During the Meiji Period. We focus on the experiences of the women employed in the silk and textile industries.

Materials are here: 20191025 Past in Pop Culture Wk 4 HO

Online materials discussed in class: UNESCO Heritage, Japan’s World Heritage Sites, Tomioka Silk Mill Manga.

Reading: Janet Hunter, “Japanese Women at Work 1880-1920”

Homework: Read the materials about Higuchi Ichiyo and Yosano Akiko.

Week 5 (1 November): Women During the Meiji period. Literature/poetry as popular culture … and two of the Meiji Period’s greatest female writers.

Materials are here: 20191101 Past in Pop Culture Wk 4 Higuchi and Yosano

Reading: Roger Pulvers, “Yesterday is another world. Tanka by Yosano Akiko”.

Homework: Do preparatory reading about the Russo-Japanese War, its origins, course, and consequences.

Week 6 (8 November): The Russo-Japanese War. Discussing the films, Emperor Meiji and the Great Russo-Japanese War (1957), The Battle of Tsushima Straits (1969), Hill 203 (1980).

Week 7 (15 November): Debates Regarding the “Shiba View of History”. Comparing depictions of the Russo-Japanese War in the novel and NHK drama, Clouds Above the Hill.

Materials are here: 20191115 CATH lecture. See also my lecture from March 2019 at SOAS, “On the Trail of Shiba Ryotaro and Jane Austen”.

Week 8 (29 November): The Japanese Empire from the Centre and Periphery Part I (Hokkaido).

Materials are here: 20191129 Hokkaido HO.

The National Ainu Museum and Park website.

Week 9 (6 December): The Japanese Empire from the Centre and Periphery Part II (Okinawa).

Materials are here: 20191206 Okinawa

Links used in class: Okinawa tourism booklet; Aleksandra Jaworowicz-Zimny, “Kando conservatism”; Rimi Natsukawa in concert; Shimauta fan vid; Satokibibatake no uta fan vid; Okinawan music holiday video; James E. Roberson, “Songs of War and Peace”

Active Learning Report Deadline: 6 December. Print out your report and bring it to class. Late submissions automatically receive a maximum score of 15 out of 25.

Week 10 (13 December): Staged History.

Materials are here: 20191213 Taisho

Reading: Norma Field, “Commercial Appetite and Human Need”

Links used in class: Chushingura (Japan Times), NHK World Documentary, Takarazuka Revue homepage, Botchan Gekijo homepage, Larry Elliott on “back to the 1930s”, Kani Kosen (1953 movie).

Week 11 (20 December): War films.

Materials are here: 20191220 War Films 1

Week 12 (25 December, NB Wednesday): Kamikaze films.

Materials are here: 20191225 Kamikaze

Week 13 (10 January): Final class. Timed essay.