This is an introduction to modern Japanese history, from the Tokugawa origins of “early modern” Japan, through the rapid Westernization and modern transformations of the Meiji Era, the building of a colonial empire, the rise of liberal party politics and urban mass culture in the 1920s and then the country’s tragic descent into total war and domestic repression in the 1930s, culminating with the trauma of total defeat and the American military occupation. Throughout the course we will be thinking about Japanese history as part of world history. That is, we all became “modern” in the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. So one way to think about modern Japanese history is, how did this global story of modernity play out in the Japanese context? And what does the Japanese example of modernity tell us about our own assumptions about modern life?
This course strongly requires students’ participation. Each student will be assigned to serve as a discussant for one week’s reading. The discussant will offer a brief, 3-5 min. introduction of the reading in class, raise 3-4 questions for everyone to address, and thereafter moderate class discussion. In the last 5 min. of class, the discussant will also find three reviews of the book and present to the class how other scholars interpreted the reading.
[FINAL RESEARCH PAPER]
Final research paper will be based on topic of student’s choice upon consultation with instructor. Undergraduate student papers must be between 10-15 pages, and graduate student paper should be between 15-25 pages.
All books are available at KU Bookstore and KU Library. The library copy is on reserve.
Books listed here are available both in print and in e-book formats. Click the tilte to get access to the e-version.