Elective Seminars by Distinguished Faculty
In our 2013-14 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 Film, History, Politics, Religion, and more.
- Study with professors from Smith, Middlebury, Colby, Stanford, Doshisha University, Kyoto Sangyo University, and Otani University.
2013-2014 Elective Course Descriptions
AKP-Doshisha Joint Seminar
Professor Susan Pavloska, Doshisha University, and Professor Nobuo Ogawa, RD, Middlebury 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.
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.
Japanese Theater, Noh and Kyogen
Professor Monica Bethe, Otani University
This class will introduce a spectrum of traditional Japanese performing arts and include field trips to theaters and festivals so that the students can experience these arts in their native environment. In class I will introduce various aspects of each performing art--text, music, dance, stage and staging, costumes, masks—through readings and visuals, and also hands-on experience. Focus will be on noh and kyogen, but sections will also cover kagura, gagaku, bugaku, mibu kyogen, puppets, andkabuki. Students will be expected to prepare the readings before time and to choose a topic for further study to be presented at the end of the semester. These can be academic research papers, translations or new plays composed in the style of one of the arts, work with costumes/masks/ sets, etc, reports on experiencing lessons or other field work, etc. In addition to the semester-end presentation, students will need to write a 7-10-page paper developing their presentation ideas. There will also be quizzes and worksheets throughout the semester. The basic text will be Karen Brazell: Traditional Japanese Theater. Columbia University Press, 1998, but readings will be taken from various sources.
Tradition and Innovation in Japanese Anime
Professor Tamae Prindle, Colby College
The course, “Tradition and Innovation in Japanese Animé” will study: Tezuka Osamu’s Astro Boy (1963), Miyazaki Hayao’s Princess Mononoke (1997), Anno Takashi’s Dog Warriors (1990), Mori Masaki’s Barefoot Gen (1983), Matsuda Toshio’s Space Battleship Yamato (1977), Ootomo Katsuhiro’s Akira (1988), Takahata Isao’s Pom Poko (1994), Hosoda Mamoru’s Summer Wars (2009), Oshii Mamoru’s Ghost in the Shell2: Innocence (2004), Nakamura Ryûtarô’s Serial Experiments, Lain (2007), and Kon Satoshi’s Paranoia Agent (2004). The course assigns the students to different tasks in rotation, such as the analysis of the color scheme, sound effects, mise-en-scène, character types, politico-moral issues, and the like. The students will share their discoveries by way of Power Point presentations and discussions. And I will substantiate their discoveries and presentations by contextualizing each animation with technical, cultural, and historical insights.
At Home and Away: Travels through Japan
Professor Kimberly Kono, Smith College
What is the purpose of travel? Spiritual enlightenment? An exotic adventure? Education? Economic necessity? This course will examine literary and cinematic representations of travel, ranging from religious travel (pilgrimages, missionary work), tourism, labor migration, diaspora and homelessness. We will discuss the conventions of the travel narrative and analyze the influence of this form on the images under consideration. In addition, we will reconsider the notion of travel – its actors, purposes and effects- and explore its role in the formation of identities – individual, national, political and aesthetic. To complement our literary and cinematic sojourns, we will also make use of maps, museum exhibits, and archives, and draw upon resources in the Kansai area including the human rights museum Liberty Osaka.
Postwar History of Japan-US Relations
Professor Masahiro Hosoya, Doshisha University
Briefly surveying bilateral relations before World War II, this course primarily focuses on the post-World War II era, and aims to introduce the bilateral relationship between Japan and the United States. It will provide students with a historical perspective as well as an understanding of the current issues in the context of changing international relations. In referring to selected events and topics, this class will also survey Japan-U.S. relations from the Meiji period. The class will identify and examine important historical events such as the American occupation of Japan, the Korean War, the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty, trade issues, the return of Okinawa, the Vietnam War, recent security arrangements, and globalization.
Industrial Pollution and Waste in Japan: Chemistry and Society
Professor Shizuka Hsieh, Smith College
A small island with limited natural resources, Japan has experienced environmental challenges that parallel current and future global issues. This course is an interdisciplinary examination of those challenges, starting from Japan's industrialization in the 1960s, an era of public health crises caused by industrial pollution. The course illustrates how chemistry, in conjunction with medicine, history, policy, media, and culture, contributed to the problems and their solutions. The historical background serves as a springboard for understanding Japanese attitudes and actions on current environmental challenges: waste, global climate change, and nuclear power.
Since no previous scientific background is required, chemistry essentials and quantitative skills will be introduced throughout. Students’ diverse academic backgrounds are expected to contribute towards a lively, interdisciplinary class dialogue. Proposed field trips are to the Liberty Museum of Human Rights, the International Conference Center (site of the Kyoto Protocol ratification), the Maishima Incineration Plant, the Kyoto Nambu Recycling Facility, and the Toba Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Kyoto and the Visual Arts of Japan
Professor Catherine Ludvik, Kyoto Sangyo University
This course explores the visual arts of Japan from the prehistoric period to the nineteenth century, highlighting representative art works including sculptures, paintings, textiles, architecture, and gardens. Selected works will be studied in terms of their chronology, artistic medium, iconography, setting, and functions. We will examine such issues as the relationship of Japanese art to Chinese and Korean art, patronage, the ritual and visual functions of Buddhist icons, the translation of concepts into artistic forms, as well as the changing identities of sculptures and paintings. Drawing on Kyoto’s long history and tradition of magnificent visual arts, classes will be supplemented with organized field trips to museums and temples.