HISTORY 450 - Japan to 1700: Origin Myth to Shogun Dynasty
Fall 2021, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
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Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
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What lies behind the image of “Cool Japan,” represented by fuzzy robots, Super Mario, Toto toilets, and everything that is kawaii? The answer is Japan’s long, complex and intriguing past that stretches from the mythical age of gods and goddesses through our time. This course covers most of that history, from prehistory and the age of aristocrats to the rise of the samurai and their dominance both in total war and total peace (300BCE and 1700CE). We examine patterns of transformation along the twin axes of time and theme: ancient aristocrats’ political power and aesthetic authority; medieval militarism supported by land rights, urban economy, and sea power; and the early modern consolidation of the status order and overseas relations. Along the way, we visit issues of environment and disasters, blood and pollution, religious devotion and sexuality, Christianity and trade, family and gender, death and dying, and more. The course offers samples of translated primary sources, such as tales, chronicles, diaries, and documents, as well as scholarly essays, films, and video clips. They will expose students to the diversity of ideas and practices that emerged from the Japanese archipelago, different from our universalistic assumptions, often shaped by the knowledge of the West. These materials and our discussion should also lead students to question the notion of “the Japanese tradition,” much of which was constructed in modern times, and does a disservice to Japan’s premodern past through misrepresentation.

Class Format:



HISTORY 450 - Japan to 1700: Origin Myth to Shogun Dynasty
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
Tu 4:00PM - 7:00PM

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