Spring Term 2005
Coastal Carolina University
Christopher Gerteis
Course Description

This course examines modern Japanese history through the analytical lens of gender in order to better understand how the socially constructed aspects of individual identity influenced significant developments in Japanese society and culture from 1600 to the present. In addition to surveying the history of modern Japan , this course introduces important theoretical issues and intellectual frameworks that underpin the study of gender in East Asian context. While there are no prerequisites for this course, students should be prepared to engage in critical discussion and be ready to discuss the case of Japan as they develop their own thoughts on gender, sexuality, and the history of gender relations in modern East Asia.


This course will introduce students to the study of gender and sexuality as a means of developing the skills necessary for critical inquiry. These include the close reading of primary and secondary sources, analytical writing, and the use of electronic and print-based research tools. Learning the facts of the history of Japan is one goal of this course, but becoming good critical readers of history is the more significant purpose.

Required Texts
  1. Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History , Columbia University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0231118570.
  2. Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan : From Tokugawa Times to the Present , Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0195110609.
  3. Gail Lee Bernstein, ed., Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, University of California Press, 1991. ISBN: 0520070178.
  4. Sharon Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan , Stanford University Press, 1987. ISBN: 0804713820.
  5. Gregory Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950 , University of California Press, 2000. ISBN: 0520209095.
  6. Jordon Sand, House and Home in Modern Japan : Architecture, Domestic Space, and Bourgeois Culture, 1880-1930 , Harvard University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0674012186.
  7. Robert J. Smith and Ella Lury Wiswell, The Women of Suye Mura , University of Chicago Press, 1982. ISBN: 0226763455.
  8. Jennifer E. Robertson, Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan , University of California Press, 1998. ISBN: 0520211510.
Films and Documentaries Shown (in whole or in part)
  1. Sansho the Bailiff
  2. Pacific Century - The Meiji Revolution
  3. Eijanaika
  4. Osaka Elegy
  5. Sisters of the Gion
  6. Shinjuku Boys
  7. Ripples of Change
  8. Fires on the Plain
  9. In the Name of the Emperor
  10. Japanese Devils
  11. Pacific Century - Reinventing Japan
  12. Bashoku or Streets of Shame
  • Five 3-page précis, each summarizing the argument of an assigned reading.
  • Five 10-minute oral presentations, each presenting the issues addressed in the submitted précis. A satisfactory oral presentation would closely follow the text of its accompanying précis.
  • Two 10-12 page papers, each on an assigned question that asks students to wrestle with the issues presented in an assigned set of readings.
  • Five In-Class Essays, each asking students to illustrate their knowledge of the reading assigned for that day.
  • Active discussion and classroom participation, requiring students to demonstrate their engagement with the assigned reading.
  • Classroom Collegiality (15%): 15% will be based on the quality of the student's day-to-day demonstrated understanding of assigned materials and on-going discussions.
  • Précis (25%): Students will be asked to write five précis, each worth 5% of the final grade, two of which must be completed prior to the midterm examination . In this case, a précis is a three-page paper that accurately summarizes the argument and evidence presented in an assigned reading.
  • The précis will be shared with the entire class in conjunction with the student's oral presentation (or participation in a panel discussion) on the same assigned reading. A satisfactory oral presentation would closely follow the text of the précis. The specifics of a panel discussion will be explained in class.
  • Each student will be responsible for either uploading their précis to the course blackboard site by 10:00 PM the day previous OR bringing enough copies of their précis to share with their classmates.
  • All students will be expected to comment on their colleagues' work in a mutually respectful manner.
  • Students may select from twenty-three possible sets of readings (labeled ‘a' to ‘v' in the Course Schedule), but must sign-up no less than two weeks in advance of the selected reading assignment. Précis are mandatory, and a student must complete all five in order to pass this course.
  • Any student not completing five précis by the end of the course will earn the grade ‘F' for the semester.
  • Oral Presentations (5%): 5% will be derived from the student's oral presentations (or participation in guided panel discussions) in conjunction with five assigned précis.
  • In-Class Essays (15%): Students will write five short-essay exams, the sum of which will total 15% of the final grade. These essays will not be announced in advance. One reason for these assignments is to allow the student to prove that they are indeed doing the work required.

  • Paper Assignments (40%): Two 10-12 page papers, 20% each, which investigate an assigned topic. A well written paper will be one which consists of an introduction to the historical problem; a summary of the argument; discussion of the assigned readings that pertain to the problem; the student's own historical analyses; and a conclusion that summarizes the student's argument. The paper will be evaluated on the bases of how the theme is presented, how the paper is organized, and the extent to which evidence presented supports the stated view.

Grading Criteria for all Written Assignments

A grade : Insightful thesis, skillful development of the argument, intelligent marshaling of evidence, correct diction, grammar, syntax, diction, punctuation, etc.

B grade : Sound thesis, good organization, development of the argument, use of evidence, mostly correct grammar, syntax, diction, punctuation, etc.

C grade : Adequate but not particularly thoughtful thesis, inconsistent organization and development of the argument, only adequate evidence, uneven grammar, syntax, diction, punctuation, etc.

D and F grades : poorly formulated thesis, bad organization and development of ideas, inadequate evidence, frequent mistakes in grammar and diction, awkward syntax, simple grammatical errors, faulty punctuation, etc.

Online Resources
Policy on Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of representing someone else's work as your own. Such behavior will result in failure of the course.