Japan Today: Studies of Japanese History, Literature, Cinema, Culture, Society and Language

Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters

Taught by

cultural studies, film studies, literature
Japanese language and culture

Japan is a vital, energetic and dynamic country which has been constantly reinventing and revitalizing itself even in the midst of gargantuan natural disasters, while struggling to maintain a sense of cultural and social continuity from the long lost past. Meanwhile, the conception and image of Japan, both in Japan and throughout the West, has varied widely over time, mostly due to Japan’s changing political and economic situation in the world. In the late 19th century, when Japan re-emerged into Western consciousness, Lafcadio Hearn, the Greek-Irish-American writer who later became Japanese, thought of Japanese society and its people as quaintly charming and adorable. In contrast, Americans in the 1940s viewed Japan as frighteningly militaristic and irrational. The French philosopher/semiotician Roland Barthes was bewitched and liberated by Japan’s charmingly mystifying otherness during his visit in 1966, when Japan began to show its first sign of recovery from the devastation of the WWII. The Dutch journalist Karel Van Wolferen was disturbed by the intractable and irresponsible system of Japanese power in 1989, when the Japanese economy was viewed as threatening to existing international power relations. These examples show how Japan has been viewed by Westerners in the past. The idea and image of Japan is highly dependent on the point of view that an observer assumes and that history makes possible.

This full-time interdisciplinary program is devoted to understanding contemporary Japan, its culture and its people, from a historical point of view. We will study Japanese history, literature, cinema, culture and society through lectures, books, films, seminars and workshops, including study of Japanese language embedded in the program. Three levels of language study (1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-year Japanese) will be offered for 4 credits each during the fall and winter quarters.

In the fall quarter, we will explore the cultural roots of Japan in its history. In the winter quarter, we will examine Japan after 1952, when the Allied occupation ended. Special emphasis will be placed on the examination of contemporary Japanese popular culture and its position in economic and cultural globalization. 

Students who are interested in experiencing Japan in person can take Japanese language classes in Tokyo through Harumi Moruzzi’s Individual Study: Japanese Culture, Literature, Film, Society, and Study Abroad in spring quarter.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Japanese literature and culture, film studies, cultural studies and international relations.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day and Evening


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$30 per quarter for entrance fees.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 27


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10068
So - Sr (16 credits): 10071
(1-16 credits): 10637

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Accepting New Students

Signature Required

The students who want to enroll in Japan Today for winter quarter are required to get a signature from Harumi Moruzzi ( moruzzih@evergreen.edu ).

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20057
So - Sr (16 credits): 20058
(1-16 credits): 20353

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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