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CCOG for ENG 209 Summer 2022

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Course Number:
ENG 209
Course Title:
Literature of Japan
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces a range of Japanese texts and films in order to explore the artistic, social, political, and historical characteristics of Japanese literature from the earliest poems to contemporary novels. Explores movements in literary and artistic traditions from multiple periods (e.g., Heian, Meiji) and analyzes how texts emphasize or resist the values of each historical moment. Considers issues of social class, religion, and aesthetics as they apply to creative works. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 or equivalent placement. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Instructors may choose an anthology, individual works, or a combination of both. The course will meet the requirements of a survey, emphasizing breadth over depth, as well as a mixture of classical and contemporary texts.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Identify the aesthetics of different periods (e.g. Heian, Muromachi, Edo, etc) in Japanese literature.
  2. Articulate the limitations of translation into English, particularly the fundamental challenge of language embedded value systems.
  3. Identify important religious concepts and historical events (e.g.. Shintoism, Buddhism, the policy of isolationism, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, westernization,etc) and analyze their representation in Japanese literature.
  4. Write literary analysis that demonstrates an awareness of the different styles of thought available in the literature of Japan.
  5. Identify works of literature from classical Japanese writers and trace the continuation of their legacy in contemporary texts.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

English and Writing courses align with the PCC General Education philosophy by providing an appreciation of writing and literature from global and personal perspectives. Students in English courses engage the imagination, critical inquiry and self‐reflection, and in the process of doing so, cultivate a more complex understanding of their own culture(s), linguistic/communication practices, and perspectives in relation to others. Because the literary arts lie at the heart of most human cultures, they are essential for understanding each other and navigating our differences. In literature classes, students explore significant texts from diverse cultures and periods in history. Students look closely at texts from a range of genres, articulating the way elements of writing, content, form, and style are interrelated, and considering how values and interpretations have changed over time and through different theoretical lenses. Students engage texts through critical analysis and creative response, learning to use evidence to support their interpretations and to navigate critical conversations. Students explore literature both as an art form designed to provoke thought and challenge social norms, and as an expression of human experience. Writing and Literature courses foster a stronger sense of engagement with history, culture, and society. Writing and Literature students develop an awareness of themselves as readers and writers in a global world, and an enlarged understanding of the relationships between language, identity, ideas, scholarship, communication, and transformation.

Cultural Literacy

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze and evaluate how cultural systems relate to broader social dynamics.

Course Activities and Design

The course activities may include lecture, large and small group discussion, in-class writing, student presentations, and film viewing. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include informal responses to study questions; evaluation of small- and full-group discussion; in-class writing; journals; formal essays; presentations by individuals and groups; and short and long essay exams. Both instructor and peer evaluation may be incorporated in the assessment process.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The course will introduce and foster understanding of

·        literary genres (e.g. tanka, bunraku, monogatari, Noh)

·        literary vocabulary (e.g. mono no aware, kokoro, kotoba)

·        literary themes

·        analysis and synthesis

·        contextualization

·        critical reading and thinking

·        essay and response writing

·        close reading and explication

·        religious and cultural influences, including mythology

·        linguistic, literary, and cultural interplay

Competencies and Skills

· analysis

· synthesis

· understanding literary texts through contexts such as society, politics,artistic conventions, multiple interpretations of an author, etc.

· writing about literature

· close readings

· critical reading employing reviews and critical essays

· comparison and contrast of Japanese literary history with other western and non-western traditions

· speaking and listening reflectively

· small-group collaboration



Most instructors use an anthology of Japanese literature, supplemented by additional texts. The following items are intended as descriptions of instructors' choices of texts in the past as an aid to choosing texts in the future. This is not intended as a prescribed or recommended list of texts.



Anthology and Literary Guide:

Keene, Donald. Anthology of Japanese Literature from the earliest era to the mid-nineteenth century. Grove Press.

Miner, Earl and Hiroko Odagiri. The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature. Princeton University Press.

Supplemental Texts:

Enchi, Fumiko. Masks. Vintage International.

Lady Sarashina. As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams. Penguin Classics.

Mishima, Yukio. Spring Snow. Vintage International.

Monkey Brain Sushi: New Tastes in Japanese Fiction. Kodansha. 

Murakami, Haruki. The Elephant Vanishes. Vintage International.

Murasaki, Shikibu. The Tale of Genji. Penguin Classics.

Oe, Kenzaburo. Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness. Grove Press.

Ono no Komachi. Poems, Stories, Noh Plays. Garland Publishing.

Saikaku, Ihara. The Life of An Amorous Woman. UNESCO Collection.

Shonagon, Sei. The Pillow Book. Penguin Classics.