JAPAN 325 A: Introduction to Japanese Cinema and Media

Summer 2021 A-term
MTWTh 9:40am - 11:50am / * *
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

This course will be an introduction to modern Japanese films, in which we will use a wide variety of twentieth-century works to discuss an array of topics. Not only will we be viewing films in a variety of genres — documentary, drama, comedy, historical pieces, the avant-garde, gangster films, and animation — we will also be discussing topics ranging from the nature of art to the moral questions of nuclear modernity. Although our discussions will be sensitive to the specific nature of film as an expressive medium, we will consider the topics of art, history, society, war, propaganda, tradition, and morality.

Learning objectives: this course is an introduction to modern Japanese films, with a focus on them both as aesthetic creations and as reflections of/commentary on contemporary society. By the end of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

1. understand a film's artistic objectives, its technical methodology, its insights into the human condition, and its symptoms of societal structures,

2. develop a sophisticated interpretation of a film,

3. express that interpretation in a clear and compelling fashion, and

4. see the significance of the film to the the student's life and the world around her/him.

Class meetings: the course will be held entirely online. The link to the scheduled meetings, MTWTh 9:40-11:50 is here. I will request that you remain muted until you are called on or have a question but that you keep your cameras on. Please also put a photograph of yourself in your profile, so that we can see your face if you need to turn your camera off momentarily. Students are encouraged to use the Chat function to ask questions or give fellow students encouragement. Private texts are fine, but be careful that texts go to their intended recipients!

Grades: Students are expected to join the discussion actively (in the form of a substantive question or comment) and in an informed manner (having watched the film in advance) at least once per class meeting; for discussion posts, students receive credit if the post reflects engagement with the film (indicating an attempt to interpret its significance or to answer the student's own questions about it); for peer feedback, a constructive and specific response must be made to at least one discussion post by a peer. Expectations about the final essay are described here.

Grades are based on discussion posts (20%), peer feedback (20%), weekly evaluations of their synchronous discussion participation (15%), and the final essay exam (45%). Students' participation in each class session is graded on a scale of 0/1: 0 if the student fails to participate; 1 if the student participates at least once, either by voice or in the chat box, with a substantive comment or question. Discussion posts are graded on a scale of 0/1: if the student provides a substantive comment or question, he or she receives 1 point. Peer feedback is similarly graded on a scale of 0/1: if the student provides constructive and detailed feedback to at least one peer, he or she receives 1 points. The final essay exam is graded with a more complex rubric, which is described in the syllabus.                        

Feedback: in addition to peer feedback, student discussion posts will be addressed as part of our class discussion; students will also receive detailed feedback on the practice final exam, which is given in the middle of the term, and on their final exams. Over the course of the term students will be presented with an increasingly detailed methodology (and increasing expectations for discussion posts) for how to identify a valuable topic and construct a persuasive argument.

Movies: many are long. Please budget your time wisely.

Reading assignments: these undated assignments are optional, because of the accelerated summer schedule. These are advanced readings about film theory and are offered for students who wish to explore the academic study of film more deeply. The ideas contained therein may be referenced in class discussion, but students will not be expected to be conversant in them.

Necessary background: this course presumes no knowledge of Japan or of film studies as a methodology. All films are in the original Japanese with English subtitles; class discussion will be held exclusively in English.

Office hours will be held online as well. I will be available through Zoom as this link. Appointments can also be scheduled with me via email.

Access and Accommodations: Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or uwdrs@uw.edu or disability.uw.edu. DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Religious Accommodations: Washington state law requires UW to accommodate student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime – no matter where you work or study – to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at https://www.washington.edu/studentconduct/ (Links to an external site.)

The University takes academic integrity very seriously. Behaving with integrity is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community. If you’re uncertain about if something is academic misconduct, ask me. I am willing to discuss questions you might have.

Acts of academic misconduct may include but are not limited to:

  • Cheating (working collaboratively on quizzes/exams and discussion submissions, sharing answers and previewing quizzes/exams)
  • Plagiarism (representing the work of others as your own without giving appropriate credit to the original author(s))
  • Unauthorized collaboration (working with each other on assignments)

Concerns about these or other behaviors prohibited by the Student Conduct Code will be referred for investigation and adjudication by (include information for specific campus office).

Students found to have engaged in academic misconduct may receive a zero on the assignment and will be reported for academic misconduct should the behavior continue.

Catalog Description:
Multiple genres of Japanese film, with particular attention to structures of power and representations of marginalized subjects. Films contextualized within global, national, and local historical settings, and within the development of the cinematic form.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
July 18, 2024 - 4:52 pm