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HUM Seminar Japanese Art and Visual Culture


Admission requirements


This course explores how uncanny subjects such as animals, ghosts, female subjects, sex workers, actors, disasters have been envisioned in Japanese art from the twelfth century CE to today. We will consider how imagining and picturing uncanny things contributed to constructing notions of otherness, engendering desire, and helping people to cope with challenging historical realities such as war, disease, and calamities. We will also discuss the role that notions of eccentricity have played in Japanese art from the eighteenth century to today. The course will introduce students to a wide range of images including illustrated scrolls, prints, and paintings. We will also visit the library and the Volkenkunde Museum Leiden to view objects.

Course objectives

Students will develop familiarity with:

  • Different types of images – picture scrolls (emaki), popular prints, paintings – and their cultural, social, and historical contexts

  • Conducting visual analysis of pictures – interpreting the meanings of motifs and painting styles in their cultural contexts

  • Using analysis of pictures as evidence for constructing an academic argument alongside critical reading of secondary sources

  • Using digital tools such as databases for image and reference searches.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Class work (participation, group presentation) 20%

  • Midterm quiz 30%

  • Research Paper Presentation 10%

  • Research Paper 40%


The final grade is established by determining the weighted average of all elements. In order to pass the course, all elements must receive a passing grade (6 or higher).


There is a two-deadline policy for all papers; for those who miss this deadline, this means they have failed on the first attempt. Those who fail on the first attempt—whether by not submitting a paper by the first deadline, or by submitting an inadequate paper—will have one more (second and last) chance to submit their paper by the second deadline. As for all assessments, rules for legitimate extenuating circumstances apply.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

To be confirmed


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


Not applicable