Course handbook: Japanese

The Oxford BA course in Japanese is a four year course, including a compulsory study period of one year in Japan in the second year. The course is comprehensive and demanding, revolving around intensive work on the written and spoken language through all four years, combined with both general and specialized study of Japanese culture, civilization and society. The language teaching takes place in classes and small groups and in language laboratories. It includes work conducted by experienced native speakers.

The B.A. Honours course in Japanese at Oxford aims:

  • to give students a thorough grounding in modern written and spoken Japanese, and in the written classical language;
  • to ensure that they have a good general knowledge of Japanese civilization, culture, history and society; and
  • to allow them to do in-depth, specialised study from a range of subjects, including both classical and modern literature, linguistics, pre-modern and modern history, anthropology, politics, economics, and art.

Teaching Staff

First year

The first year is dedicated to intensive work on the Japanese languages and study of the history and culture of Japan, and East Asia in general. At the end of the first year you will take Prelims which examines the language and history and culture work you have done during the first year.

Subjects taken in the first year:

  1. Modern Japanese I
  2. Modern Japanese II
  3. East Asia Survey: Japan

Second Year

The second year of the course will be spent at Kobe University in Japan for continued extensive language study, combined with the study of civilization, culture and history. Details about the year abroad will be given during the course of the first year.

Third and Fourth Year

In the third and fourth years the regular language work continues, you will begin study in the classical language. An important part of these two years is specialized work within subject areas chosen by yourself from a wide array of available options, including both classical and modern literature, linguistics, pre-modern and modern history, anthropology, politics, economics, and art. In the fourth year you also write a maximum 15,000 word dissertation on a subject of your own choice under supervision. At the end of the fourth year you will be examined in all the work you have done over the four years.

It is possible to study an additional language (from Chinese, Korean, and Tibetan) in the third and fourth years of the course.

Japanese

Japanese with a subsidiary language

1. Modern Japanese I
2. Modern Japanese II
3. Spoken Japanese (1/2 paper)
4. Classical Japanese
5. Special text option I [translation and commentary]
6. Special subject option I [essays]
7. Dissertation
8. Special text option II [translation and commentary]
9. Special subject option II [essays]
10. Either Special text option III or Special subject option III

1. Modern Japanese I
2. Modern Japanese II
3. Spoken Japanese (1/2 paper)
4. Classical Japanese
5. Special text option I [translation and commentary]
6. Special subject option I [essays]
7. Dissertation

 

A Subsidiary Language:


11. Chinese, Korean, or Tibetan Texts
12. Chinese, Korean, or Tibetan History and Culture
13. Chinese, Korean, or Tibetan Language

Important Deadlines

Special Subject Options

Core Special Subject Options.
(all Michaelmas Term only)

Other Special Subject Options

Special Text Options

 

NOTE: the examination regulations relating to all Oriental Studies courses are available at https://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/ . If there is a conflict between information in any of the faculty handbooks and the exam regulations, you should always follow the exam regulations. If you have any concerns please contact academic@administrator.ox.ac.uk


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Teaching Staff

Teaching Staff from Oriental Studies:

Dr Linda Flores, Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Literature (Pembroke College)

Professor Bjarke Frellesvig, Professor of Japanese Linguistics (Hertford College)

Dr Jennifer Guest, Associate Professor of Classical Japanese Literature (Queen’s College)

Dr James Lewis, Associate Professor of Korean History (Wolfson College)

Ms Kaori Nishizawa, Japanese language instructor

Ms Junko Hagiwara, Senior Japanese language instructor

Mrs. Keiko Harada, Faculty Tutor in Japanese

Ms Hiroe Kaji, Japanese language instructor

Teaching staff from the Nissan Institute:

Professor Roger Goodman, Nissan Professor of Modern Japanese Studies (St Antony’s College)

Dr Ekaterina Hertog, Associate Professor of Japanese Sociology

Professor Takehiko Kariya, Professor of Japanese Sociology (St Antony’s College)

Professor Sho Konishi, Associate Professor of Modern Japanese history (St Antony’s College)

Professor Ian Neary, Professor of Japanese Politics (St Antony’s College)

Professor Hugh Whittaker, Professor in the Economy of Japan


Compulsory Subjects

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First Year: Modern Japanese I and Modern Japanese II

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Language Classes: approximately 10 hours per week; throughout the academic year. Grammatical Analysis: one weekly class in Hilary Term.

Course description:

You will be taught how to read and write Japanese and how to translate from English into Japanese. Language classes will prepare you for the examination at the end of your third term.

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First Year: East Asia Survey: Japan

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

On average just over 2 lectures per week; throughout the academic year with essay tutorials every two weeks. You will write 12 essays over the academic year.

Course description:

Lectures in the first two terms will cover all of East Asian history with a focus on Japan in East Asia. Lectures in the third term will focus entirely on modern and contemporary Japan. Preparation for the examination at the end of your third term will be a combination of lectures and essay tutorials.

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FHS: Modern Japanese I and Modern Japanese II

Course description:

The two papers in Modern Japanese will test your ability to translate into Japanese and from Japanese into English, as well as writing in Japanese. The teaching directly preparing you for these papers will be language classes, text classes, and text tutorials.

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FHS: Spoken Japanese

Course description:

The paper in spoken Japanese will be taken in Hilary term of the fourth year.  It will test your ability to understand and produce spoken Japanese. The Spoken paper counts as half a paper. Most of the teaching directly preparing you for the paper in spoken Japanese will be language classes.

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FHS: Classical Japanese

Course description:

The paper in Classical Japanese will take the form of translation into English of Classical Japanese set texts and unseen texts, with a small amount of translation into English of kanbun set texts. There will be classes and tutorials in Classical Japanese set texts in the third year, classes on translation of unseen texts throughout the fourth year, and classes on kanbun set texts in Michaelmas Term of the fourth year.

Set texts:

SET TEXTS

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FHS: Dissertation

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Third and Fourth Years. Usually two hours of supervision in the third year and three hours in MT and HT of the fourth year.

Teaching staff:

Individual supervisors depending on topic.

Course description:

During your fourth year on the course you will produce a dissertation on a topic relating to Japan.  You should already be thinking about your dissertation topic in the third year, and your topic may well be informed by option work you have done on the course. For the dissertation you are expected to utilise your Japanese language skills in your research on your topic.  The dissertation should be between 12,000 and 15,000 words, including footnotes and endnotes, but not including the bibliography.  You should use the style sheet appropriate to the discipline in which you are working.   

For the submission deadline you should look up the General Regulations at the beginning of the Oriental Studies section of the Examination Regulations.


Further Subjects

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CORE: Classical Japanese Literature: Ancient to Early Modern

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Michaelmas Term

Teaching staff:

Dr Jennifer Guest

Course description:

This course provides a survey of classical Japanese literature from earliest times to the early nineteenth century, with readings in English translation from a wide range of important works as well as suggested secondary readings on key topics in the literature of each period.

Week 1: What factors make a text classical, literary, or Japanese? (Does the Kojiki qualify?)
Week 2: The meaning of a “good poem” in early Japan
Week 3: Memoirs, diaries, and biographies in the Heian court
Week 4: Gender and genre in the mid-Heian classics
Week 5: Buddhist themes in medieval poetry and anecdotal literature
Week 6: Portrayals of warriors and warfare in medieval prose and theatre
Week 7: Humour in Edo literature
Week 8: Reflections of earlier classical literature in Edo prose and haikai poetry

 

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CORE: Japanese Linguistics

Teaching staff:

Professor Bjarke Frellesvig

Course description:

This option is designed to give an overview of the Japanese language and linguistics through reading and writing of essays on selected topics across the major fields of linguistics, beginning with a look at the main characteristics of Japanese as compared to other languages. Next we look at variation within the Japanese language, considering in turn sociological characteristics of the speech situation (e.g., status and keigo), of the speaker (e.g., gender), and of the speech community as a whole (e.g., dialect region). We will also examine loanwords in the Japanese vocabulary, lexical stratification, and some selected aspects of Japanese grammar, focusing on transitivity in particular. Finally we will work on a syntactic description of sentences selected from naturalistic data in Modern Japanese.

Week 1: Identify, describe and discuss three main features of the Japanese language
Week 2: Honorific language (keigo) in Japanese, including its acquisition and use
Week 3: Gender as a factor in language variation in Japanese
Week 4: Describing the features of a spoken dialect text in Japanese (to be distributed)
Week 5: Loanwords in Japanese
Week 6: Lexical stratification
Week 7: Syntactic description of a given set of Japanese sentences
Week 8: The notion of transitivity and its role (including transitivity pairs) in Japanese

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CORE: Modern Japanese Literature: The Invention of Modern Japanese Literature

Teaching staff:

Dr Linda Flores

Course description:

This option provides an overview of important literary works and writers in the period spanning from the middle of the Edo to the beginning of the 20th century. We will explore key issues in Japanese literary studies including modernity, the self, identity, and gender. This option will examine the development of the concept of modern Japanese literature and explore the ways in which that development accompanied the rise of Japan as a modern nation. Lectures and tutorials will address both the social and historical context of the works under examination as well as closer readings of the texts themselves.

Week 1: What is ‘Modern’ ‘Japanese’ ‘Literature’?
Week 2: The Edo Period and the Invention of Japan
Week 3: Defining Japan, Defining Women
Week 4: Civilisation and Enlightenment
Week 5: The Invention of Literature
Week 6: Women Writers and the Reform of Tanka Poetry
Week 7: The Rise of Empire
Week 8: Japanese Naturalism and the ‘I-novel’

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Special Subject Option: Economy of Japan

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Michaelmas Term 2017

Teaching staff:

Professor Hugh Whittaker

Course description:

This option explores the rise of the Japanese economy and its subsequent problems, looking at some of the controversies and contrasting approaches which have framed our understanding.  A perspective of comparative capitalism will be adopted.  Readings will be available in the Bodleian Japanese Library. 

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Special Subject Option: History of the Japanese Language

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term

Teaching staff:

Professor Bjarke Frellesvig

Course description:

This option focuses on the development of the Japanese language from Old Japanese as it appears in the earliest attested writings through to written and spoken Modern Japanese within the phonology, morphology and syntax of the language. Other themes covered will be the reconstruction of even earlier language stages than that of Old Japanese, the origins and development of the scripts used to write Japanese, dialectal and other variation within pre-modern Japanese, and the influence from foreign languages, both Chinese and European, on the Japanese language. Students taking this option should also follow Professor Frellesvig’s lecture series History of the Japanese language and Introduction to Old Japanese in Hilary Term.

Topics covered may include:

Proto-Japanese and Japanese before Old Japanese; Japanese scripts; The sound system of Old Japanese and phonological changes; The Eastern Old Japanese dialects; Old Japanese morphology and later changes in inflection and verb morphology; Historical syntax; External influences on Japanese.

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Special Subject Option: Japanese Art

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

HT, from HT2018

Teaching staff:

Dr Clare Pollard

Course description:

To be updated soon.

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Special Subject Option: Japanese Politics

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

HT2017, TT2017, MT2017, HT2018, MT2018

Teaching staff:

Professor Ian Neary

Course description:

This course provides an introduction to Japanese politics.

Aims of the course: To see how an advanced, industrial urban society such as Japan can be studied using the methods of political science; and to get a firm understanding of how Japanese government works. Major themes to be covered include modern political history, the structures and institutions of contemporary politics: parties, elections, bureaucracies, and policymaking. It will be possible to study a number of contemporary policy areas in depth, including welfare policy, foreign and defence policy, industrial policy among others. We will look at the micro level of policy making while also relating this to the wider political and economic arena both inside and outside Japan. Students taking this option should also follow Professor Neary’s lecture series on Japanese Politics which take place Fridays at 12-1 in the Nissan Institute. The lectures start in Michaelmas Term, so those taking the option in Hilary Term must also follow the lectures in Michaelmas Term.

Tutorial topics will be chosen from:

The Political reforms of the Occupation; The Liberal Democratic Party; The opposition parties; Election systems; Local Government; Interest Groups; Industrial and Agricultural Policy; Foreign and Defence Policy; Human Rights, ODA and FDI; Environment Policies and Citizens Movements; Welfare politics.

Recommended reading:

Recommended Introductory Reading:
Hook, Glenn D. 2005. Japan’s International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security, Routledge.
Neary, Ian J. 2002., The State and Politics in Japan, Blackwell.
McCargo, Duncan. 2004. Contemporary Japan, Palgrave.
Shinoda Tomohito, 2013 Contemporary Japanese Politics, Columbia.

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Special Subject Option: Japanese Society

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term and first 4 weeks of Trinity Term

(Please note that this option is only available for third years)

Teaching staff:

Professor Roger Goodman

Course description:

This option has two main aims: (a) to provide an introduction to Japanese society from an anthropological perspective and (b) to show how the study of Japan can contribute to mainstream anthropological theory. Major themes which will be covered include notions of personhood, rituals and symbols, time and space, structure and agency, continuity and change, and the construction of ethnic, gender, sexual and minority identities. It will be possible to study a number of contemporary social institutions in depth, including the Japanese educational, legal, medical, welfare, company, household and kinship systems, new religions and the worlds of traditional arts and popular culture. At the micro level, the details of these operations and the ideologies which support them will be examined, while at the macro level the course will explore their relation to other social institutions and the wider political and economic arena both inside and outside Japan. Students taking this option should also follow Professor Goodman’s lecture series Japanese Society in Hilary Term.

Recommended reading:

Recommended Introductory Reading:
Hendry, Joy. 2013. Understanding Japanese Society (4th edition). Routledge.
Martinez, D. P. (ed.). 2007. Modern Japanese Culture and Society (4 Vols). Routledge.
Nakane, Chie. 1973. Japanese Society. Penguin.
Robertson, Jennifer (ed.). 2005. A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan. Blackwells.
Ryang, Sonia. 2004. Japan and National Anthropology: A Critique. RoutledgeCurzon.
Sugimoto, Yoshio. 2010. An Introduction to Japanese Society (3rd edition). CUP.

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Special Subject Option: Modern History of Japan

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Michaelmas Term 2016.

Teaching staff:

Dr Sho Konishi

Course description:

This option offers a broad introduction to the cultural and intellectual life of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan in the wider world. We will read both primary texts in translation and secondary works. Assigned readings consist of all common readings and your choice of text(s) from the list of selected readings or outside the list. Common readings will be on reserve at the Bodleian Japanese Library. Some suggested theoretical readings are also listed throughout the syllabus, which should prove helpful for future research and writing on Japanese history.

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Special Subject Option: Pre-modern Japanese History I: to 1185

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term and other terms by arrangement

Teaching staff:

Dr James B Lewis

Course description:

The narrative of Japanese history can be broken into three main divisions: to 1185, 1185 to 1853, and 1853 to the present. Japanese Pre-modern history options cover the first two divisions. The essay questions are thematic and range over institutions, religions, politics, intellectual concerns, economy, and foreign relations. They do not address the history of literature or language.

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Special Subject Option: Pre-modern Japanese History II: 1185 to 1853

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Trinity Term and other terms by arrangement

Teaching staff:

Dr James B Lewis

Course description:

The narrative of Japanese history can be broken into three main divisions: to 1185, 1185 to 1853, and 1853 to the present. Japanese Pre-modern history options cover the first two divisions. The essay questions are thematic and range over institutions, religions, politics, intellectual concerns, economy, and foreign relations. They do not address the history of literature or language.

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Special Subject Option: Topics in Court Literature (900-1300AD)

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term

Teaching staff:

Dr Jennifer Guest

Course description:

This course focuses on classical literature of the Heian and early medieval periods, with primary and secondary readings in English; the first three sessions will focus on waka poetry and its social and literary contexts, while weeks 4-6 will be centred on the Tale of Genji and other prose tales, and the final two sessions approach topics in the history of literary thought. It may be helpful to take the Classical Japanese Literature Special Subject Core option first, but it is not necessary or required.

Topics covered may include:

The Kokinshū and debates on the nature of waka poetry; Poetry competitions, material culture, and the literary environment; The Wakan rōeishū: poetry as visual and aural art; Monogatari (tale literature): Narihira and the young Genji; Genji’s later years; Tales of exotic lands (travel to China and beyond); University scholars and court literature; The Way of Poetry (Fujiwara Teika and the Hyakunin isshu).

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Special Subject Option: Topics in Modern Japanese Literature

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term

Teaching staff:

Dr Linda Flores

Course description:

This option provides an overview of important literary works and writers in the period spanning from the early 20th century to the present day. For this option we will consider more closely issues such as gender (masculinity, femininity, the feminist movement), reactions to the I-novel, and reactions to the post war. Lectures and tutorials will address both the social and historical context of the works under examination as closer readings of the texts themselves. Students taking this option should also follow the lecture series Topics in Modern Japanese Literature in Hilary Term.

Topics covered may include:

Proletarian Literature; Japanese Modernism; Nikutai bungaku: Literature of the Flesh; Atomic Bomb Literature; Beyond the Postwar: Oe Kenzaburo; The Feminist Movement; Angry Women: Enchi Fumiko, Takahashi Takako, Ohba Minako; Murakami Haruki and the Post modern.

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Special Texts: Classical Japanese I: The Tale of Genji and the Pillow Book

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

TT2017, MT2017, MT2018

Teaching staff:

Dr Jennifer Guest

Course description:

This option will involve readings from two near-contemporary works of Heian court prose, the Tale of Genji and the Pillow Book. Through close reading of passages from the Pillow Book, students will trace Sei Shōnagon’s accounts of how she outwitted various other courtiers and impressed the empress with her quick literary responses; get to know the rhythms of Heian court life and the seasonal progression of waka topics; and consider the socio-political and gendered dynamics behind the brilliant setting of mid-Heian court salons. Readings from the Tale of Genji will focus on the early volumes of the tale and on Genji’s relationship with the character known as Murasaki, perhaps the most iconic (if at times problematic) romance in Japanese literary history; the dynamics of romantic longing, power, and transgression established in these early episodes provide one possible set of signposts through the complex plot of the text as a whole.

 

These two texts, which are now among the best-known canonical works of classical Japanese literature, illuminate many facets of life in the Heian court around the turn of the eleventh century, including poetry and aesthetics; ideals of romance and other relationships; shared assumptions about literary and cultural knowledge; conceptions of death, the supernatural, and the world beyond the capital; and attitudes toward gender and women’s writing. By reading key excerpts from the Tale of Genji and Pillow Book alongside each other, we will aim for a deeper understanding of these themes and the roles they played in Heian court literature.

 

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Classical Japanese II: Warrior Tales

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

HT2017, HT2018

Teaching staff:

Dr Jennifer Guest

Course description:

In this option, students will read, translate, and comment on selected medieval warrior tales. Our focus will be on iconic passages from the immensely influential Tales of the Heike (Heike monogatari), which depicts the rise and fall of the Taira warrior clan along with the heroic acts and tragic deaths of characters on both sides of the twelfth-century civil wars. As we examine specific scenes in detail, we will also consider themes that run through the text as a whole and have wider implications for medieval Japanese literature, including portrayals of ideal warrior conduct and feats of bravery; Buddhist worldviews and attitudes toward death; the roles played by women in the tale; and the interaction between written sources and oral performance. We will conclude with a quick look at how the characters of the Heike were reimagined in later storytelling, art, and Noh drama, reading a passage from the Story of Yoshitsune (Gikeiki) – a popular account of the exploits of the Genji general Minamoto no Yoshitsune and his loyal warrior-monk companion Benkei that provides a chance to think further about the literary construction of warrior heroes (particularly doomed ones).

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Classical Japanese III: Haikai from Bashō to Buson

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

TT2018

Teaching staff:

Dr Jennifer Guest

Course description:

In this option, students will read, translate, and comment on poetry and prose by two great early modern haikai poets, Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) and Yosa Buson (1716-1784). We will read from two poetic travelogues by Basho, Nozarashi kikō (a journey from Edo west into Kansai) and Oku no hosomichi (a journey north from Edo), which offer opportunities to consider the perception of landscape through poetry and the mapping of literary associations onto sites of travel. We will also examine part of a linked-verse session in which Bashō participated alongside other poets in trading verses to create a combined sequence, and will consider Bashō’s ideas about the proper composition and linking of haikai poetry. Additional readings in Yosa Buson’s poetry and haikai-style prose will let us consider how he inherited and diverged from Bashō’s poetic practice and how he participated in literary culture of his day. We will also look at selected paintings, including Buson’s quirky illustrated version of Bashō’s Oku no hosomichi, in order to consider the close relationship between haikai poetry and visual arts. The works of these two poets provide a vivid introduction to the seasonal system of poetic topics that underlies much classical literature, and are ideal sources for discussing text-image relations, humour and wordplay, and evolving relationships between literary innovation and canonical literary traditions in early modern Japan.

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Japanese Linguistics I: Boku wa unagi da

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Michaelmas Term

Teaching staff:

Professor Bjarke Frellesvig

Course description:

The purpose of this option is for students to examine a particular set of issues in Japanese linguistics in some detail, while assimilating the necessary concepts and vocabulary in the process. Students will read, translate, and comment on two parts of the book 'Boku wa unagi da' no bunpō: da to no by Okutsu Kei’ichirō (1979).

This is an important and oft-quoted work on Japanese grammar that takes as its starting point various possible uses and interpretations of the sentence boku wa unagi da sometimes literally (but usually mistakenly) translated ‘I am an eel’. Depending on context, this sentence can be used in reply to questions such as “What did you order?”, “What are you fishing for?”, or “What is your favourite fish?”, amongst many others. Okutsu examines the many sentences that can be formed on the same basic pattern from the perspectives of syntax and semantics.

The first excerpt we will read is part one of the book: “‘Boku wa unagi da’ no bunpō”. We will also read the follow-up essay that Okutsu wrote to address some of the observations made by supporters and critics of his original work: “Unagibun no sekai”.

The book addresses in particular the question of the status of the ‘copula’ within Japanese. The topic Okutsu treats here has been and is still controversial in the field of Japanese linguistics. It raises further questions about focus, presupposition, etc., thus covering some basic notions in pragmatics. As an introduction to Japanese linguistics, the book covers a broad range of issues using basic intuitions about meaning and grammaticality in a very accessible way.

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Japanese Linguistics II: Linguistic variation

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term

Teaching staff:

Professor Bjarke Frellesvig

Course description:

The purpose of this option is for students to explore varieties of the Japanese language, and to consider the factors that bear on the choices speakers make with regard to what they say and how they say it. 

We will first explore various dialects of Japanese and the geographical patterns that dialectal variation exhibits.  The readings will be taken from the book: O-kuni kotoba o shiru (Satō 2002).  The topics looked at may include: the east/west dialect split in Japan; inferring how innovations spread; the standardization of Japanese; the future of dialects in Japan; philology and dialectology; the sources of dialect items. 

We then go on to focus specifically on gender as a factor in variation in speech and writing in Japanese, and its interaction with other sociolinguistic variables.  The readings are selections from the book Onna to Kotoba (Endō 2001). The topics looked at may include: girls who refer to themselves using boku; which genders use masculine and/or feminine speech in TV dramas; factors on women's use of pauses and fillers in speech; the place of feminine speech in 'queer' contexts.   

Finally, we will look at yakuwarigo "stereotypical speech in fiction" as presented in the book Vaachuaru Nihongo:Yakuwarigo no nazo (Kinsui 2003).  

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Japanese Linguistics III: Old Japanese

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Trinity Term

Teaching staff:

Professor Bjarke Frellesvig

Course description:

The purpose of this option is for students to learn to read, translate and comment on texts written in Old Japanese, the oldest known form of the Japanese language (from the Asuka/Nara period). The writing, the vocabulary, and the grammar of Old Japanese are significantly different from that of the canons of Classical Japanese literature from the Heian period onwards. The texts will be read and studied from a linguistic, rather than literary, point of view, focusing on the special features of Old Japanese script, phonology and grammar. These texts raise many points of interest for all students of Japanese, but knowledge of Old Japanese is an especially valuable addition to the study of Classical Japanese.

Most of the texts from this period are poetry. We will read texts from the poetry anthology the Man’yōshū (compiled after 759 AD), which is the main source of texts from the period, but we will also read poetry from other sources. We will also read works written in a ritualistic prose, from the Senmyō (imperial edicts) in the Shoku-Nihongi and from the Norito (prayers and blessings) from the Engishiki. Finally, we will read some of the few texts written in Eastern Old Japanese, a group of dialects with characteristics that are different from the language of the capital, which is that reflected in the majority of sources.

Students taking this option should also follow Professor Frellesvig's lecture series Introduction to Old Japanese in Hilary Term.

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Japanese Politics

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

MT16 ; HT17 ; TT17

Teaching staff:

Professor Ian Neary

Course description:

Over the term we will look at extracts from two texts: Seiji no shikumi by Fukuoka Masayuki and Nihon Gendaishi 1945-85 by Fujiwara, Arakawa and Hayashi. The first is a basic introduction to Japanese politics that assumes no political knowledge. The chapter we will read from the second covers the period from prime ministers Tanaka to Nakasone looking at aspects of both political and economic developments. Students will write essays on four topics that we will discuss in tutorials.

There will be an accompanying series of lectures on Japanese politics every Friday during MT from 12.00 in the Nissan seminar room.

All the classes will be taught by Professor Ian Neary, professor in the Politics of Japan, who is based at the Nissan Institute who can be contacted at ian.neary@nissan.ox.ac.uk

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Modern Literature II: Trauma and Narrative in Modern Japanese Literature

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Trinity Term

Teaching staff:

Dr Linda Flores

Course description:

Saito Tamaki has described the past few decades of Japanese literature as a ‘torama to iyashi no bu-mu’ (trauma and healing boom). He has argued that writers such as Murakami Haruki and Yoshimoto Banana are actively engaged in writing as a process of working through trauma and embarking on the process of healing.  This option will consider trauma broadly conceived to include:  the Meiji Restoration and modernity; the Pacific War; the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the post war Occupation; childbirth and motherhood.  We will explore topics such as war responsibility, survivor guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-partum depression, memory and narrative.  Readings will include English language studies of trauma and memory by scholars such as Cathy Caruth, Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud, Dominick Lacapra and Jeffrey Alexander. 

For this option two primary texts will be read:  Natsume Sôseki’s Kokoro (excerpts) and two chapters from Takahashi Takako’s Sora no hate made (To the Far Reaches of the Skies).  We will also discuss critical articles about trauma and memory relating to both western and Japanese literature.

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Modern Literature III: Gender in Modern Japanese Literature

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term 2016

Teaching staff:

Dr Linda Flores

Course description:

This option is designed to explore in depth issues of gender in modern Japanese literature.  We will explore works of fiction that address issues of gender alongside discourses on masculinity and femininity. Of particular interest in this option are literary works that challenge stereotypes on female identity, motherhood, and the ryôsai kenbo (good wife-wise mother) model.  Examples of these include infanticide mothers, or women who resist the vocation of motherhood, either through acts of violence, through the realm of fantasy, or through engaging in sadomasochism. Topics of discussion will include the archetype of the witch and the infanticide mother in modern Japanese literature; hyper-masculinity, the bushido warrior code, resistance to motherhood, gender-bending and parody.

We will also read scholarship on gender studies; this may include works by Ueno Chizuko, Mizuta Noriko, Douglas Slaymaker, Jonathan Mackintosh, and Toril Moi.

Three primary texts will be read for this option:  Mizuta Noriko’s Yamanba-tachi no monogatari (josei no genkei to katarinaoshi) (Excerpts); Ohba Minako’s ‘Yamanba no bishô’ (The Smile of A Mountain Witch) and Takahashi Takako’s ‘Natsu no fuchi’ (The Edge of Summer).

 

Set texts:

Set Texts

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Special Texts: Japanese History I: to 1185

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Hilary Term

Teaching staff:

Dr Jay Lewis

Course description:

The readings for this unit were chosen with two purposes in mind. The first is to introduce students to the field of ancient Japanese history, and the second is to focus on one aspect of antiquity—foreign relations. Time permitting, a third aspect will be developed that looks at the controversial ways history is used to elaborate contemporary identities.

The first text is a bibliographical survey of the fields covered by ancient historians. A new survey is published annually, and this survey is the best way for students to identify the latest scholarly work in a field that interests them. Acquaintance with this resource is essential for any historical work—ancient, medieval, modern, or contemporary—and could be the starting point for any dissertation topic on any aspect of Japanese history. We will read selections from the section on ancient history.

The second text is a modern Japanese translation of the oldest and most elaborate description of the Japanese. The text was written in the third century CE in Chinese.

Time permitting, we will also read sections and discuss the third and fourth texts, which will be one part of a comparative composite of Japanese high school texts on ancient history. These may also be most usefully read as background.

Set texts:

SET TEXTS


Special Subjects

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Special Texts: The Economy of Japan

Term in which it is taught and hours of teaching:

Michaelmas Term 2015, Michaelmas  Term 2016

Teaching staff:

Professor Hugh Whittaker

Course description:

The course will focus on a small number of themes which will serve as ‘windows’ on aspects of the contemporary Japanese economy and business.  Possibilities include:

Reforming Japanese agriculture

Reforming Japanese corporate governance

Employment relations

Ageing and welfare provision

Entrepreneurship

Passages will be selected from weekly economics or business journals; Nikkei shimbun; and other relevant publications.

Further details will be given in class.

All the classes will be taught by Professor Hugh Whittaker, Professor in the Economy and Business of Japan, based at the Nissan Institute.  He can be contacted at hugh.whittaker@nissan.ox.ac.uk

 

 


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Important Deadlines

Monday Wk 9 of Trinity  Term

Year 1

Provisional start date of the First Public Examinations.

Monday Wk 0 of Hilary Term

Year 4

Deadline for applications for approval of dissertation titles.

Forms available here.

 

12 noon, Friday Wk 10 of Hilary Term 

Year 4

Deadline for submission of dissertation

 

Wk 0 of Trinity Term

Year 4

Oral examinations for Japanese language.  Timetables available about 5 weeks before the oral exams.

 

Monday Wk 7 of Trinity  Term

Year 4

Provisional start date of the Final Honour School examinations.