Japanese Civilization


This course is an introduction to Japanese civilization from its beginnings in the Jōmon 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. This course carries general education credit in MCG and major credit in History and Asian Studies. It also counts toward the Japan Studies concentration.

Image Credit: Jordy Meow, The torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima) in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.

  • Date: January 1, 2016
  • Categories: Asian StudiesHistory
  • Institution St. Olaf College
  • Course Code: HIS252
  • Semester Winter Interim 2016