Tokyo Stories in Contemporary Japanese Fiction

This spring, I taught a new class called “Tokyo Stories in Contemporary Japanese Fiction.” Here’s the course description…

Tokyo is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the world. It’s also one of the most storied, laying claim to centuries of history and countless colorful districts and neighborhoods. In this class we will explore Tokyo by delving into a collection of stories set in and around the great metropolis. We will work our way forward in time, beginning with the city’s roots as the samurai capital of Edo. Along the way, we will investigate contemporary themes such as demographic crisis, social stratification, gender trouble, and the ruins of neoliberal capitalism.

Through the study of representative works of contemporary Japanese fiction, this course gives students the opportunity to learn about Japanese values from a diversity of perspectives as we investigate how social and cultural organizations are mapped onto physical space. Our study will incorporate visual media such as films, animation, music videos, fine art, architectural photography, and fashion. Various methods of critical cultural analysis will be modeled in class lectures and practiced during class discussions, and students will be asked to perform their own critical analysis in their written assignments.

By the end of the semester, students will have been exposed to a diverse range of representative authors and cultural concerns that will help them develop a nuanced understanding of Japanese literature, history, and society.

You can download a copy of the course syllabus (here).
I’ve collected PDF copies of the course readings on Dropbox (here).

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