Admission to the MA Asian Studies (60 EC, 120 EC or research). If you have not been admitted to one of these programmes, please contact the instructor before registration.
The interaction between word and image has played a pivotal role in the production of Japanese culture from court poetry to contemporary manga and anime. This course examines the historical role of literacy and knowledge of literary classics in the field of cultural production in premodern Japan. It uses a multidisciplinary approach combining literary, visual and material culture analysis. We will explore how standard themes, often taken from court literature, were continuously reworked and adapted, including through dialogic combinations of word and image and through humorous, fashionable and eroticised repackaging in the popular culture of early modern Japan. A particular focus will be on the related cultural performances of calligraphy, poetry and the pictorial arts. We will consider how people in premodern Japan used these cultural performances to create a sense of cultured community, temporarily crossing time and social status divides. Based on detailed case studies, we will explore how these cultural practices manifested themselves in cultured objects (scrolls, screens, albums, popular prints) and cultured spaces (parlors, gardens). By analysing the various ways in which the classics were reworked, we will consider more generally the cultural meanings of creativity and eccentricity in premodern Japan. In addition to detailed case studies, the course also introduces students to a range of exemplary scholarly texts in literary studies and in visual and material culture studies in English and (for those who are able) Japanese; to develop an awareness of relevant approaches, methodologies and schools; to develop a knowledge of the multidisciplinary way in which such approaches interact in the academic study of Japanese premodern cultures and societies; to give students the capacity to react critically to different approaches and form their own scholarly responses.
The course aims to introduce students to a range of exemplary scholarly texts in visual, art historical and literary studies in English and (for those who are able) Japanese; to develop an awareness of relevant approaches, methodologies and schools; to develop a knowledge of the multi-disciplinary way in which such approaches interact in the academic study of Japanese pre-modern cultures and societies; to give students the capacity to react critically to different approaches and form their own scholarly responses.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
- Seminar with lecture elements
Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenor needs to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.
Assessment and weighing
|participation (including presentation)
|4 position papers
|1 term paper (± 3,000 words)
The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
The end-term paper is written in two stages: a first version, which will be commented on, and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the final version, will get a failing grade.
In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
The course is an integrated whole. All categories must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.
A new paper to replace the written work (65%) may be written if the overall mark for the course is “5.49” (=5) or lower. In that case the convener of the course may assign a (new) topic and/or give a new deadline.
A resit of the other partial assessments is not possible.
Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.
To be announced.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.
Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof.