History 252 | St. Olaf College
This course is an introduction to Japanese civilization from its beginnings in the Jomon period through WWII. We take a multidisciplinary approach grounded in history to examine the development of Japanese culture and literature, in addition to religion, art, and popular culture; political institutions such as the monarchy, the shogunate, and the samurai class; and social and economic change. In addition to examining the lifestyles of the elite, this course also puts emphasis on the lives of ordinary people and minorities in Japan. Many of the assigned readings are literary works in translation, and we will evaluate them as both aesthetic works and as works of historical value. We will also examine Japan’s relationship with the outside world as a way to reflect on Japan’s values, institutions, invented traditions, and historical heritage.
(Photograph taken at Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima in the Hiroshima Bay; Wikimedia Commons)