Representations of the Past in Popular Culture

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”


Active Learning: Fieldwork at Heritage Sites (Report deadline 7 December). Read the guidelines here: Active Learning and End-of-term Report Explanation


7 December: The Japanese Empire from the Centre and Periphery

14 & 21 December: Light and Dark Sides of the Taisho Period

4 & 11 January: War Films and War-related Television


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