ASIAN 320 - Japanese Performance Culture
Fall 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Undergrad and Grad
Meet Together Classes:
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


This introductory course explores a variety of Japanese theatrical forms from the 13th-century to the present, including Noh, Kyôgen, Bunraku, Kabuki, Takarazuka, and Butoh, with a strong emphasis on understanding these forms in their historical and performative contexts. The primary goals of this course are to familiarize students with the techniques and histories of Japanese performance traditions and, further, to develop students’ skills of critical observation and analytical writing about performance. By the end of the term students will be able to recognize, interpret, and perform specific acting techniques. They will also be capable of both analyzing performances closely within the contexts of their staging and of writing about them incisively.

Over the course of the term, we will engage in close-readings of primary texts and secondary critical work, which will be supplemented with viewings of recorded and live performances as well as lecture demonstrations, whenever possible. Students will also be exposed to some training in Noh acting techniques through short workshop sessions. No Japanese language or theater background is assumed or required.

Course Objectives:

  • Learn about historical and contemporary Japanese performance, as well as key concepts and debates in the study of Japanese culture.
  • Sharpen observational and interpretive skills through critical analysis of primary and secondary texts on Japanese performance.
  • Improve critical reading and writing about physical gestures, costume, and musical elements.
  • Learn to critique conventional media representations and cultural stereotypes about Japan.
  • Learn to differentiate between various types of Japanese performance in terms of their historical emergence, formal attributes, and societal function.
  • Develop a productive practice of self-awareness with regard to how one studies Japanese culture and performance culture, in particular.

    Course Requirements:

    Eight analytical response papers over course of term and reading quizzes. Graduate students will have additional primary and secondary readings in Japanese and English, and a longer final research/writing assignment.

    Intended Audience:

    Undergraduates interested in drama/performance and/or Japanese culture, and graduate students in Japanese studies or performance studies

    Class Format:

    Two 90-minute discussions per week (additional 90-minute session per week for graduate students)


ASIAN 320 - Japanese Performance Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for ASIAN 320.001

View/Buy Textbooks


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 ASIAN 320 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for 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 (Atlas)