Course taught from April 2000. Examination of Japanese cultural values through a study of Tale of Genji and its reception. Study of related and contrasting works of literature and visual arts.
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Genji studies (external links)
This course will examine aspects of Japanese culture in their historical and social context through a reading of the classic The Tale of Genji, written almost a millennium ago yet still regarded by many Japanese as the supreme representative of cultural values central to this country's traditions. We will examine what these values are and why they have been so influential, despite the many competing models of culture in later periods, from the contrasting values of medieval warriors to the diversified patterns of cultural pursuits found today in Japan. As imitation and parody are an important feature of all periods of Japanese culture, we will also look at how the Genji and other classics have inspired painters, dramatists, writers, cartoonists and film makers up to the present day. Another important topic is its translation and appreciation in other countries, in order to understand how its reception differs from that of important cultural "exports" that have contributed to the image of Japan.
We will begin most classes with a quick written quiz, either open-book or closed-book, on the assigned chapters of The Tale of Genji and the forms of traditional culture it describes, from calligraphy and clothing to traditional art, architecture and religion. The questions are designed both to help your understanding of the story and its cultural background, and to stimulate class discussion. Each student will be required to do one independent project based on an agreed topic that will require additional reading.
E.G. Seidensticker, trans. The Tale of Genji (1976).
Other translations will be read for comparison.
For information about other translations and web resources see below.
This class will be taught in English. Native speakers of Japanese
are welcome to join this class, but should be prepared to do the
reading assignments and to participate in discussions. Please
attend the first few sessions and talk to me after class if you
have any worries about keeping up. You will be expected to read
the assigned chapters in modern Japanese translation. For bibliographical
information see: genji-j
SYLLABUS for spring term 2001 (under construction)
Planned schedule of classes by session number of assigned readings, discussion topics, and additional topics. All students must read the assigned chapters from The Tale of Genji, but additional readings will be assigned to individual students in rotation. Readings are also assigned for the day of the mid-term examination. Questions on these chapters will make up one section of the mid-term, but discussion will be take place in the following class session.
Multiple copies of the following translations are available from the university library and (for UC/ISP students) from CICE. Serious students should purchase their own copies. The Waley and Seidensticker translations are available in paperback editions from Charles Tuttle (Tokyo). Both editions are in two volumes.
some modern Japanese translations
Yosano Akiko's translation is now available on the Internet, in two different versions:
See Genji studies page for more links.
Bowring, R. (1988) Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Field, N. (1987) The Splendor of Longing in the Tale of Genji. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Goff, J. (1991) Noh drama and The Tale of Genji. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kamens, E., ed. (1993) Approaches to Teaching Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji. Approaches to Teaching World Literature, no. 47. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.
Morris, I. (1964) The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan. New York: Knopf.
Okada, H. R. (1991) Figures of Resistance: Language, Poetry, and Narrating in The Tale of Genji and Other Mid-Heian Texts. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Pekarik, A. J., ed. (1982) Ukifune: Love in the Tale of Genji. New York: Columbia University Press.
Shirane, H. (1987) The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of the "Tale of Genji". Stanford: Stanford UP.
McCullough, H. C. (1977) The Seidensticker Genji. Monumenta Nipponica. 32, 93-110.
Harries, P. T. (1991) "Arthur Waley (1899-1966): Poet and Translator" in Cortazzi, Britain and Japan 1859-1991: Themes and Personalities. London and New York, Routledge. 214-222.
Morris, M. (1990) "Desire and the Prince: New Work on Genji Monogatari", JAS, 2, 291-304.
Ury, M. (1977) "The Complete Genji", HJAS, 37, 1, 183-201.
Ury, M. (1991) "Tales of Genji", HJAS, 51, 1, 263-308.
Waley, A. (1921) "An Introspective Romance", The New Statesman, December 10, 286-287.
I have copies of the following translations:
Many are available in Japanese, the most famous being "Asaki yume mishi". Although some of this long work has appeared in German and Chinese translation, there is no English translation available. [Until now--vol. 1 appeared in autumn, 2000]
Many one-volume versions have appeared, covering only part of the long tale. One has been translated into English (copy in Shirokane library):
Michael Watson (Professor)
Faculty of International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University
1518 Kamikurata-cho, Totsuka-ku
Yohohama, Japan 244-8539
My room number is 8504 (top floor of the Faculty of International Studies). I teach classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. It always helps to email me first at watson[at]k.meijigakuin.ac.jp before coming to see me.
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