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JAPAN 435 A: Seminar In Modern Japanese Literature

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
PAR 306
Professor Bhowmik photo
Davinder Bhowmik

Syllabus Description:

Instructor:        Prof. Davinder L. Bhowmik

Office:              Gowen Hall, Mezannine 239

Office hours:     MW, 11-12 or by appt.



Course description:

This undergraduate seminar will focus on the major novels of Natsume Sôseki (1867-1916), Japan’s most beloved and versatile modern writer.  A prolific novelist, literary theorist, haiku enthusiast, specialist of British and Chinese literature and articulate critic of Japan’s headlong rush to modernize itself, Sôseki is a must read for any serious student of Japanese literature.  Through our reading and discussion of his major works we will consider such topics as genre, serialization, literary language, narrative, style, and translation.  Texts will be assigned roughly in order of chronological sequence and we will pay close attention to the economic, social, and historical conditions of their production. In addition to introducing students to methods of close reading and interpretative approaches, the seminar will focus on developing students’ ability to write a sustained and coherent paper that demonstrates literary analysis.


Prerequisites:  Japan 322 or instructor’s permission


Participation: This course is designed as a capstone for Japan. Regular attendance and participation is a minimum requirement for the course.

Before class meets students will be expected to complete all assigned readings and to select a short quote from the story that stands out in some way, historically, culturally, or literarily, for example. Be prepared to share your quotation and explain its significance.   

Seminar paper presentation: These will take place during the last week of classes. Instructions to follow.

Seminar paper: The final paper is due by 5 pm on Friday of finals week. Instructions to follow.

Grading:  Your final grade will be equally weighted in the following categories: 

Participation (40%); Presenatation (20%); Seminar paper (40%). 


Required Texts:

Botchan (Penguin, 2013)

Kusamakura (Penguin, 2008)

The Miner (Aardvark, 2016)

Sanshiro (Penguin 2010)

And Then (Tuttle, 2011)

The Gate (Tuttle, 2012)

Kokoro (Penguin, 2010)

Light and Darkness (Columbia, 2016)


Academic Accommodations:  If you would like to request accommodations due to a learning disability, please contact:

 Disability Resources for Students 

011 Mary Gates

206-543-8924 (Voice)

206-543-8925 (TTY)

206-616-8379 (Fax)


Academic Misconduct: The presentation of another person’s words and ideas as one’s own is a serious offense; violations will be dealt with according to the University codes of conduct, which stipulate sanctions up to and including expulsion.

Reading Schedule (subject to change)

M:  3/27 Introductions

W:  3/29 Jay Rubin on Sôseki pdf (under files tab)

M:  4/3   Read opening of Botchan on Aozora bunko and chapters 1-3 of Bertens, Hans. Literary Theory: The Basics, edited by Hans Bertens, Taylor and Francis, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central,

W:  4/5  Botchan discussion


M: 5/15 final chapter of Literary Theory:  The Basics

W: 5/17 no class

M:  5/22 class discussion of The Gate

W: 5/24 class discussion of Light & Darkness

M:  5/29 Memorial Day holiday

W:  5/31 presentations, 5-7 mins/per student









Catalog Description: 
Seminar study of special topics in modern Japanese literature. Prerequisite: JAPAN 322.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:30pm