Elective Seminars by Distinguished Faculty
In our 2014-15 elective course curriculum, you will
- Explore issues in comparative culture with Doshisha University students in the AKP-Doshisha Joint Seminar, a chance no other program offers.
- Take special seminar courses on Japanese Literature, History, Politics, Photography, and more.
- Study with professors from Smith, Bucknell, Oberlin, Doshisha University, and Kyoto Sangyo University.
2014-2015 Elective Course Descriptions
AKP-Doshisha Joint Seminar
Professor James Dobbins, Oberlin College
The Joint Seminar represents a unique opportunity to explore issues in comparative culture in a class comprised of both AKP and Doshisha students. The class format includes panel presentations, discussions, joint projects, and a series of guest lectures by Japanese and foreign experts from the Kyoto environs who will address various aspects of American and Japanese culture from a multi-disciplinary perspective. One of the main purposes of the course is to promote discussion between Doshisha and AKP students on issues related to the course topics. Strategies for promoting good class discussion, including pairs and small groups, will take precedence over organizational purity and continuity. There will be a course packet of readings, but no required texts for this course. Students will complete fieldwork and give a presentation in small groups, and also write a final paper.
Kyoto Past and Present: Community, Conflict, Commitment
Professor Suzanne Gay, RD, Oberlin College
This course will explore Kyoto, one of the world's great cities, in its contemporary complexity and historical richness. We will examine current issues like preservation vs. development, the ethnic diversity of the population, and environmental concerns. We will look back to the city's transition from imperial capital to a regional metropolis, including its leading role in Japan's industrialization, technological innovation, and education. Another segment of the course will be on the urban evolution of the city over the centuries, including space use and architecture. As much as possible, we will learn the city by walking it. Course format: discussion, field trips.
Professor Catherine Ludvik, Kyoto Sangyo University
Filled with over two thousand temples and shrines, Kyoto provides the ideal setting for the study of Japanese religions. This introductory course will survey the development of Shinto, Buddhism and the New Religions of Japan in historical as well as contemporary context. Topics discussed will include Shinto mythology, the transmission of Buddhism to Japan, the teachings, rituals, and practices of the Japanese schools of Buddhism, mountain asceticism, popular forms of religion such as pilgrimage, funerary and memorial rites, and the emergence of New Religions. Drawing on the religious landscape of Kyoto and nearby sites, classes will be supplemented with organized fieldtrips, and student assignments will be based both on readings as well as on temple/shrine visits and first-hand observance of rituals, festivals, and other religious activities.
Kyoto: A Photographic Profile
Professor Chester Michalik, Smith College
The course, while using photography, is primarily designed to allow students from various disciplines and majors to "see" their work in new ways: that is using photography as a means of investigation, expression and communication. Classes at the beginning of the course will discuss achieving expressive potential of photography; examples of how various photographers use composition, selection, camera angle will be shown and discussed for desired effects. Even though technical matters will be shown and discussed, the emphasis will always be on visual communication of images. The end result of the course is a public exhibition open to Doshisha students, friends, host families, and AKP faculty, staff and students. No extra equipment is required.
Literature, Space, and Place in Kyoto
Professor Tom Rohlich, Smith College
In this course we will study a selection of the finest works of traditional Japanese literature set in Kyoto and the Kansai area. In addition to reading poems, essays, tales, and Noh and Kabuki plays, each topic will involve a short research project wherein students will explore and interpret how the literature is celebrated and remembered in museums, historical sites and markers, and present day popular culture. The readings will be in English translation, but we will also use Japanese resources, appropriate to a student's language level, as means of understanding how these texts are discussed in Japanese. Our goal is to gain an understanding and appreciation of what these texts are, what they mean to Japanese today, and the ways in which our understanding in English compares with Japanese perspectives. Frequent individual and group field trips will be an important part of the class.
International Relations of Japan
Professor Zhiqun Zhu, Bucknell University
As the world's 3rd largest economy and major power in Asia, Japan plays a significant role in global and regional affairs. Yet Japan's international relations, especially its ties with its neighbors and the US, are a topic that has been seldom studied by college students. How does Japan deal with its external challenges today? This course offers an overview of Japan's foreign relations. Each student is encouraged to develop expertise in a particular aspect of Japan's foreign policy or a specific international relations issue involving Japan. Different perspectives on major controversial issues in Japan's foreign relations such as territorial disputes with China/Taiwan, Korea and Russia; the Yasukuni Shrine; Comfort Women; North Korea's nuclear program; Japan's UN Security Council membership; and the US-Japan alliance will be compared and discussed.
Marginality, Ethnicity and Gender in Contemporary Japan
Professor J. Kim-Wachutka, Ritsumeikan University
Among a plethora of information and references on singular topics of minority, race, ethnic and gender studies, an interdisciplinary examination of marginalized peoples often takes a secondary position in prominence and importance. Who are these marginalized peoples within the Japanese context? Indeed, the ever-increasing flow and movements of peoples between states, nations and boundaries demand an understanding of the implications and complexities of marginality, ethnicity and gender. However, along with the inquiries of race or ethnicity, disparate lived experiences of diaspora, migration, and life-choices also contribute their divergent realities to the social “norms” of the mainstream society. This course will examine the concepts of nation, gender, ethnicity and difference, giving us another view of the diversity, complexities and challenges of living at the periphery of Japan’s civil society.
Japanese Buddhist Art
Professor Catherine Ludvik, Kyoto Sangyo University
This course introduces the Buddhist visual arts of Japan, highlighting sculptural and painted images from the seventh to the sixteenth century. Art works will be studied in terms of their chronology, artistic medium, iconography, school of Buddhism, temple setting, and functions. Focusing on selected temples and their icons, we will examine such issues as the place of the image in the historical development of the temple, its ritual and visual functions, representational strategies versus ‘hidden images’, the changing identities of sculptures and paintings, the placing of texts and other objects inside statues, as well as how iconography helps practitioners to visualize the divine. Drawing on the rich religious landscape of Kyoto and nearby Nara, classes will be supplemented with organized fieldtrips to temples and museums.