HISTORY 197 - First-Year Seminar in the Humanities
Section: 001 Samurai and their Women in War and Peace
Term: FA 2017
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Samurai are popular figures in manga, stories, films, anime, and games. Historically, samurai were Japan’s iconic warriors who dominated the country’s premodern politics and economy, sometimes violently and other times peacefully. In ancient times samurai were lowly servants of the imperial court, but they grew in prominence over time, establishing a warrior government in the medieval era and subsequently organizing and administering a vibrant early modern society that maintained peace for two and a half centuries. After a millennium of their history, samurai lost their status in the nineteenth century, as Japan encountered the expansionist Americans and Europeans, and the government replaced samurai with a modern conscript army. Did samurai disappear? In reality, they did, but in imagination, they did not. As samurai gave up their swords and began to wear Western outfits, the ideology of the “warrior code (bushido)” was minted as the “soul of Japan” and helped to refashion historical samurai into idealized icons of the honorable Japanese spirit.

This new samurai image circulated broadly, not only in Japan but also among the Western powers, including the United States. In order to appreciate the complex history of real and imaginary samurai, we will view films, read war tales, examine documentary sources in translation, and study scholars’ and philosophers’ interpretations of historical developments. By taking this course, students will: (1) acquire knowledge of the basic outline of samurai history, including their economic base, military strategies, family and gender relations; (2) learn about the construction of the imaginary samurai in the context of Japan's confrontation with Western powers; and (3) sharpen critical skills in reading, analyzing and processing information that we will encounter in historical studies, as well as in our own media environment.

Course Requirements:

Class attendance and participation (20pts); five written commentaries of about 300 words each (8 x 5 = 40pts); a group presentation (10pts); one five-page paper, to be revised after review and resubmitted (30pts). Readings will be posted on Canvas.

Class Format:

First year students

HISTORY 197 - First-Year Seminar in the Humanities
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
WF 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
003 (SEM)
Tu 2:00PM - 5:00PM
004 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for HISTORY 197 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)