Graduate Courses

JS 532 – The Body in Society

This seminar examines concepts of the body in society from approximately the seventh through the early twentieth century. The objective is to raise the awareness of cultural concepts throughout history. We will focus on general notions of the body drawing from a broad range of historical sources. Social exterior markers of the body, such as gender, class, geography, but also the physical body, health and illness, will be explored to demonstrate how these concepts have changed over time and how the body can be the archive and the instrument for political ideology. Students’ active participation in reading, interpreting and discussing the material is essential to the success of the course.

JS 532 Y Network Studies

The course’s focus is on social networks in Japanese history. Complex networks are not new phenomena but their description and analysis require us to reconsider our perspectives. The course will start with some readings that discuss the perspective of social network analysis and will then treat in more detail examples in Japanese history. Students will take a social network of their choice (e.g., writers, artists, scholars, politicians, fathers, immigrants, students, children,…) and apply what they have learned.


JS 532 Z The Samurai

The course’s focus is on the samurai and his/her place in society. In this first section we consider the ideological make-up of Tokugawa rule and society. With this background we then explore the political and ideological quandaries of the samurai. One case study, the Akō revenge, which is better known through its literary offspring, Chūshingura (or its countless film versions, “47 rōnin”), will demonstrate how the samurai is often defined and redefined over the centuries. A closer reading of primary sources will take on the modern notion of the “samurai spirit.”