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World Languages and Literatures

1000 Years of Ghosts and Monsters in Japanese Fiction and Film - Japn 290, Spring-16

October 07, 2015

This course is an exploration of Japanese ghosts and monsters, spirits and the supernatural; that is, we’ll dive into the uncanny, haunted presences that populate 1000 years of Japanese fiction and film. We begin in the 10th century Heian court as depicted in the monumental epic Tale of Genji, where jealous spirits and mysterious omens shape everyday notions of natural disasters and politics, illness and romance. We then move to the medieval world of demons and folktales, reading Buddhist setsuwa tales, Noh dramas and early yomihon. And by semester’s end, we emerge in the modern world, studying everything from 19th century mechanized monsters and early 20th century occult and war-fueled spirits as well as late-century urban legends, anime spirits and horror-film ghouls. The class is a once-a-week, reading-intensive, discussion-based seminar and will require extensive student participation. We explore how the supernatural functions during different historical moments, how it is wielded as a political and social weapon, and how it allows depictions of both individual psychology (the haunted mind) and collective political experience (the sense of being haunted by history). In English. No knowledge of Japanese language necessary.


Mondays 6-9 pm, Spring-16

No prerequisites, taught in English

Please contact Prof. Suttmeier,, for more information.

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World Languages and Literatures

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