First-Year Studies: Japanese Literature: Ancient Myths to Contemporary Fiction


From the Sun Goddess Amaterasu ruling the Plain of Heaven to a superfrog saving Tokyo from mass destruction, this course is an introduction to the richness and diversity of Japanese literature in English translation. During the fall semester, we will focus on ancient, classical, medieval, and early modern texts (eighth to 19th centuries). Readings will include creation myths, epic tales of imperial courtiers and samurai warriors, folktales, drama, and poetry. During the spring semester, we will read 20th- and 21st-century writers, including Natsume Soseki, Kawabata Yasunari, Enchi Fumiko, Abe Kobo, Oe Kenzaburo, Murakami Haruki, and Ogawa Yoko. Films, historical texts, and critical essays will complement these literary texts to help us sharpen and challenge our interpretive approaches.