Representations of the Past in Popular Culture

This course has finished.


5 October: Course introduction: What is “history”? What is “culture”? How do we study them?

12 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.

19 October: The End of the Shogunate part 2. Let’s compare the depiction of the assassination of Sakamoto Ryoma in NHK’s Taiga Drama Ryomaden, Romulus Hillsborough’s Samurai Revolution, tourist sites in Kochi, and an Edo-Tokyo Museum exhibition from 2017. See also Segodon (and Ryoma’s assassination).

26 October: Women During the Meiji Period. We discuss the representations of women’s experiences working in the silk and textile industries. Resources: UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Japanese World Heritage Sites, Tomioka Silk Mill manga, Janet Hunter: “Japanese Women at Work, 1880-1920”, History Today.

2 November: No class.

9 November: Women During the Meiji period. Discussing Higuchi Ichiyo and Yosano Akiko. Selections of Yosano’s poetry are here.

16 November: The Russo-Japanese War. Depictions in manga and war movies.

30 November: Debates Regarding the “Shiba View of History”

7 December: The Japanese Empire from the Centre and Periphery Part I (Hokkaido). We discuss depictions of the Ainu in cinema and anime. We also discuss the preparatory reading on the Ainu and Hokkaido History.

14 December: The Japanese Empire from the Centre and Periphery Part II (Okinawa). A particular focus on music in Okinawan identity. Links: Okinawa history, article by Aleksandra Jaworowicz-Zimny, YouTube videos (Shimauta, Shimauta again, Satokibibatake no Uta, a holiday video), article by James E. Roberson.

21 December: Staged History. Online resources are: JT article about Chushingura, NHK World Program about Kabuki, Takarazuka Revue (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), Botchan Gekijo (1, 2), The Crab Cannery Ship (1953 film, 2009 film trailer), 1930s article (Guardian). Articles read for homework about Kobayashi Takiji and a play about his life.

4 January: War films. We discuss the range and narrative conventions of various war films: Murudeka, Kike Wadatsumi no Koe, Tora Tora Tora, Harp of Burma, Grave of the Fireflies, Kantai Collection, Tokyo Trials.

11 January: Kamikaze films (short sections from The Eternal Zero and Hotaru). Themes and related tourism. Course wrap up.

Homework: End of term report. Read the guidelines here: Active Learning and End-of-term Report Explanation. The deadline is 18 January (1 week after the final class).

This course is English, but many materials are in Japanese. NB: There is now no class textbook to purchase. Appropriate readings will be provided for each group of classes.

Syllabus: 312115-多言語・多文化社会論概論B (English) , 312115-多言語・多文化社会論概論B (Japanese)

The mark sheet used for grading is here: Grading Rubric