Japan to 1600: History-East Asian G8873 (Spring 2007)

Tuesdays 4:10-6, Location TBA

A GRADUATE COLLOQUIUM on the history of the Japanese archipelago up to ca. 1600 C.E.  Readings in English, mostly of secondary sources but with a sampling of the primary sources that are available in translation.  No prerequisites per se, but familiarity with the broad outlines of East Asian history and geography is recommended.  Intended for M.A. and PhD. students in history, literature, art history, religion, and so on; upper level undergraduates with sufficient preparation should apply to the instructor for permission to enroll.

TEXTBOOKS have been ordered at Labyrinth Books...

...as required reading:
1) Conrad Totman, A History of Japan 2nd ed. (Blackwell, 2004)
2) Joan Piggott, Capital and Countryside in Japan, 300-1180 (Cornell East Asia Series, 2006)
3) Pierre François Souyri, A World Turned Upside Down (Columbia, 2001)

...as recommended reading:
4) George Sansom, Japan: A Short Cultural History (Stanford, 1952) NOTE: the in-print paperback is shamefully overpriced; look for used copies before buying it.  Any edition will do as long as it is the one-volume 'Short Cultural History.'

For a (pdf) copy of the syllabus click here.


Introduction to Kanbun: Japanese W4019 (Spring 2007)

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11-12:15, Location TBA

    The purpose of this class is to build proficiency in reading the variety of classical Japanese written styles that are subsumed under the broad term kanbun [].  More specifically, it aims at fostering familiarity with kundoku [P], which is a collection of techniques for reading and writing classical Japanese in texts largely or entirely composed of Chinese characters.  Because it is impossible to achieve fluent reading ability using these techniques in a mere semester, this class is intended as an introduction.  Students will be expected to gain familiarity with a toolbox of reading strategies as they are exposed to the basic variety of premodern written styles and genres; this will lay the groundwork for more thorough competency in specific areas that are relevant to their individual research.

    This is not a class in Classical Chinese: those who desire facility in Chinese classical texts are urged to study Classical Chinese itself.  (On the other hand, some prior familiarity with Chinese will make much of this class easier).  THE PRE-REQUISITE FOR THIS CLASS IS INTRODUCTION TO CLASSICAL JAPANESE (W4007x); because our focus is the use of Classical Japanese as a tool to understand character-based texts, it is assumed that students will already be comfortable with basic Classical Japanese grammar.  Students with concerns about their competence should discuss them with the instructor immediately.

Goals of the course

  1. Acquire basic familiarity with kundoku techniques of reading, with a particular focus on the classes of special characters (unread characters, twice-read characters, negations, etc.) that form the bulk of traditional Japanese kanbun pedagogy.
  2. Gain facility in the use of Classical Chinese-Japanese dictionaries (kanwa jiten aT) and other basic reference materials, and understand how to apply the skills learned in this course to more extensive readings in literary or historical sources.
For a (pdf) copy of the syllabus, click here. Further details about the class are available on Courseworks.


Page created 15 May 2006; revised 27 March 2007