You are here

JAPAN 321: Japanese Literature I

Meeting Time: 
MTThF 10:30am - 11:20am
CMU 226

Syllabus Description:

Instructor:                 Jyana S. Browne


Office:                        349 Art

Office Hours:             Tues. 11:30-12:20pm and by appointment.                                              

Class:                         Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri. 10:30-11:20, CMU 226.


  • Traditional Japanese Literature Haruo Shirane & Early Modern Japanese Literature – Ed. Haruo Shirane (available at the UW Bookstore and on reserve in the East Asia library in Gowen Hall).
  • Additional readings available on Canvas.
  • Videos available on the UW Language Lab Website.


This course introduces students to classical Japanese literature. We will read poetry, prose, and drama from the earliest times to the mid-nineteenth century. We will study how literature intersected with political, social, economic, religious, and intellectual systems over the same time frame.

All readings will be in English, and no background is assumed.


  • To acquire a foundational knowledge of classical Japanese literature’s genres, literary techniques, and historical development.
  • To analyze the poetry, prose, and drama with attention to the works’ themes, structures, and styles.
  • To develop interpretations of literary works.
  • To synthesize knowledge in order to build arguments about classical Japanese literature.


Your overall grade for the class is based on your participation (in class and online) and the written assignments. The total percentage points you earn in the class will converted to the 4.0 scale according to the chart on Canvas. 97% or higher will earn a 4.0. The lowest passing grade is 55%.

Participation (10%)

Class Discussion

All students are expected to regularly and respectfully participate in class discussions and projects. Failure to participate will negatively impact your grade. For the purposes of this course, participation includes thoughtful and insightful comments and questions about the course materials and class discussion. Your comments should demonstrate that you have done the course readings and watched the videos.

Journals (20%)

Students will write journal entries on each reading and/or video assignment. Guided prompts will be provided on Canvas.

  1. Heian Period – Due 10/20
  2. Medieval Period – Due 11/12
  3. Edo Period – Due 12/8

Any journal turned in after the due date will be considered late. Late journals will be accepted at a penalty of 10% of the grade for each 24-hour period the paper is late up to 3 days after the journals are due.

In Class Presentations (20%)

There will be 4 in class presentations, all of which will be done in groups. Guided prompts will be provided on Canvas.

  1. In Class Presentation #1 – 10/12 (20 pts)
  2. In Class Presentation #2 – 11/2  (20 pts)
  3. In Class Presentation #3 – 11/24 (20 pts)
  4. In Class Presentation #4 – 12/10 (40 pts)

You must be present and participate in the presentation to receive credit. If you are unable to participate due to illness, see the policy on make-ups below.

Exams (50%)

There will be a total of three exams.

  1. Heian Period – 10/22 (10%)
  2. Medieval Period – 11/13 (15%)
  3. Final Exam (Edo Period & Final Essay) – 12/14 (25%)

Note that Exam #3 will be given during finals week on Monday 12/14, 8:30-10:20am. Please plan your travel accordingly.


If you wish to request a make-up examination, please see the instructor. All requests must be in writing (a message from your email address is acceptable) and some form of documentary evidence.

Here is the official University policy on make-up examinations, as posted on the Registrar’s website (italics added):

“A student absent from any examination through sickness or other cause, judged by the instructor to be unavoidable, shall be given an opportunity to take a rescheduled examination or perform work judged by the instructor to be the equivalent.

“If the instructor determines that neither alternative is feasible during the current quarter, the instructor may exempt the student from the requirement. Examples of unavoidable cause include death or serious illness in the immediate family, illness of the student, and, provided previous notification is given, observance of regularly scheduled religious obligations, and might possibly include attendance at academic conferences or field trips, or participation in university sponsored activities such as debating contests or athletic competition.”


Since this course uses written assignments to evaluate your progress, I recommend visiting the writing centers on campus.


The University’s Seattle campus never closes, but classes may be cancelled due to heavy snow or other contingency. Such cancellations may be centrally ordered or done at the discretion of the instructor. During periods of especially inclement weather or other emergency situations, access the UW web site, check your email frequently, or contact me by email if you are uncertain whether class will be held.


Please refer to the Bachelor’s Degree Planbook of the college of Arts and Sciences and the Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-120) to learn what behaviors constitute academic misconduct and applicable penalties.

  • Plagiarism

Plagiarism is not acceptable and will negatively affect your grade. All sources must be properly cited. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please send me an e-mail, make an appointment to meet with me, or see


The University of Washington’s policy “prohibits discrimination against members of the University community on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran.” This policy also applies to our class discussions and group projects.

Disorderly or disruptive students can and will be asked to leave class for the day; further disruptive or disorderly conduct will result in a meeting with me and may also be reported to the appropriate dean. For more information, please see the full UW Student Conduct Code at:


If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, 543-8924 (V/TDD). If you already have a letter from DSS, please present it to me so I can accommodate your needs as soon as possible.


Use of laptops during class time is permitted for in-class work sessions only. During discussions and lectures, students will be expected to use pen and paper. Please see the instructor if you would like to request an exemption.


Specific reading, viewing, and writing assignments are listed on the chart on the following page and on Canvas.


Those who wish to pursue further study of classical Japanese literature at UW are warmly invited to enroll in Japanese 471 (Introduction to Classical Japanese), offered every autumn. You will learn how to read classical literary texts in the original.

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS – Japan 321 – Autumn 2015




Preparation (Reading or Video)

Assignments Due

Thurs. 10/1

Course Introduction



Fri. 10/2

Intro: Heian

Optional Reading: TJL 66-72


Mon. 10/5


TJL 89-104


Tues. 10/6


TJL 104-112


Thurs. 10/8

Tales of Ise

TJL 128-138


Fri. 10/9




Mon. 10/12

In Class Presentation #1


In Class Presentation #1

Tues. 10/13

Pillow Book

TJL 138-160


Thurs. 10/15


Tale of Genji PDF 1 & 2


Fri. 10/16


TJL 161-179 & 199-217


Mon. 10/19


TJL 260-278


Tues. 10/20



Journals Due

Thurs. 10/22




Fri. 10/23

Intro: Medieval

Optional Reading: TJL 278-284


Mon. 10/26


TJL 284-294


Tues. 10/27


TJL 296-312


Thurs. 10/29


TJL 345-369


Fri. 10/30


TJL 370-382


Mon. 11/2

In Class Presentation #2


In Class Presentation #2

Tues. 11/3

Lady Nijo & Nursemaids

TJL 383-396 & Nursemaids PDF


Thurs. 11/5

Noh – Lady Aoi

TJL 414-433


Fri. 11/6


TJL 464-475


Mon. 11/9

Noh – Atsumori

TJL 464-475


Tues. 11/10

Noh – Dōjōji

Dōjōji PDF & 2 Videos: Sources of Dōjōji & Dōjōji Highlights


Thurs. 11/12



Journals Due

Fri. 11/13




Mon. 11/16

Intro: Edo

Optional Reading: EMJL 1-19


Tues. 11/17


EMJL 21-67


Thurs. 11/19


EMJL 85-93 & 99-120


Fri. 11/20

Bunraku – Intro

Video Bunraku Masters of Japanese Puppet Theatre


Mon. 11/23

Bunraku – Sonezaki

EMJL 125-142


Tues. 11/24

In Class Presentation #3


In Class Presentation #3

Thurs. 11/26




Fri. 11/27




Mon. 11/30

Bunraku – Amijima

EMJL 142-175

In Class Presentation #4 Proposal Due

Tues. 12/1

Bunraku – Chūshingura

EMJL 179-181 & Video Chūshingura - Kanpei


Thurs. 12/3

Santō Kyōden

EMJL 335-358


Fri. 12/4

Kabuki – Intro



Mon. 12/7

Kabuki – Ghost Stories at Yotsuya

EMJL 455-482


Tues. 12/8

Kabuki – Dōjōji

Video Musume Dōjōji

Journals Due

Thurs. 12/10

In Class Presentation #4


In Class Presentation #4

Fri. 12/11

Exam Review



Mon. 12/14



Final Exam 8:30-10:20




Catalog Description: 
Introduction to the literature and culture of Japan from the earliest times until the mid-nineteenth century. Close readings of tales, poems, plays, or essays with an emphasis on understanding cultural and historical contexts. In English. Offered: A.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
May 20, 2015 - 9:10pm