2024-2025 Elective Courses

You’re used to the challenging academic standards and probing critical thinking that characterize a liberal arts education. And you’ll find that abroad with AKP. AKP mirrors its thirteen consortium institutions in disciplinary diversity and commitment to excellence among its courses. Thanks to the Visiting Faculty Fellows program, AKP recruits some of the finest professors from the consortium, allowing you to take classes that will foster a deeper understanding of Japan’s long and complex cultural history.

AKP students will take two elective courses per semester during the afternoons. The credit amount for each course will be equal to one standard semester-long course in the US.

In addition to the AKP elective courses listed below, AKP students may, if interested, take one of their two electives each semester by cross-registering for a course offered by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS), also housed at Doshisha University. Courses taken at KCJS will receive the same credit as AKP electives and will appear on your AKP grade report. Note that the ability to cross-register may be affected by class size limitations, time conflicts, or conflicts with class-related field trips. Enrollment in a desired course is not guaranteed.

For information about KCJS electives, see their elective course page. For more information about cross-registration, please contact the AKP US Office.

Fall 2024 (Tentative)

AKP-Doshisha Joint Seminar
Professor Noboru Tomonari, RD, Carleton College
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM

This seminar, which is open to both AKP and Doshisha students, focuses on issues in comparative culture. The class format includes panel presentations, discussions, group projects, and a series of guest lectures by Japanese and foreign experts from the Kyoto area who will address various aspects of American and Japanese culture from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Creating Modern Japan through Popular Culture
Professor Mahon Murphy, Kyoto University
Mondays at 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM & Wednesdays at 4:40 PM – 6:10 PM

This course will look at the creation of Japanese popular culture since the so-called “opening” of the country in 1868, when Japanese culture was introduced to a new global audience. The modernization of Japan raised numerous dilemmas, in particular the question of what it means to be Japanese. We will assess questions of who creates popular culture and to what end, including the role of popular culture in Japan’s nation branding from the Meiji era through the 2013 government initiative “Cool Japan.” We will examine how various governments sought to control and promote popular culture for their own ends, and also track how those who resist official narratives place their stamp on popular culture. Picking a central weekly theme, we will take a historical approach to Japanese popular culture over the past 155 years, covering Japan’s periods of imperial expansion, post-war contraction, economic boom, and economic bust. We will consider the deeper political implications of the activities we pursue in our leisure time and how popular culture has been an essential node in creating a modern, imperial, and global Japanese identity.

Kyoto and the Visual Arts of Japan
Professor Catherine Ludvik, Kyoto Sangyo University
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM

This course takes students on an exploration of the magnificent visual arts of Japan, from the enigmatic excavated works of the prehistoric period, through the imposing Buddhist arts and breathtaking sliding screen paintings defining traditional architecture, to the vibrant contemporary art scene. Through a sweeping historical survey highlighting the forms and functions of representative artworks in their respective contexts, you 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 representational strategies and modes of viewing.

Literary Culture of Early Modern Kyoto
Professor Peter Flueckiger, Pomona College
Mondays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM & Wednesdays at 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM

This course offers an introduction to the literature of the Tokugawa period (1600–1868) with a focus on Kyoto. The course will introduce you to not only Kyoto-based authors and works set in Kyoto, but also the distinct identity of Kyoto in the Tokugawa period, when it developed as a center of cultural prestige in contrast to the political center of Edo and the commercial center of Osaka. In keeping with this identity, Kyoto was known as a center of what we might characterize as a certain type of “high culture,” in contrast to the growth of popular culture in Edo and Osaka, but we will also find that this “high culture” of Kyoto enjoyed widespread popularity among the city’s urban commoner class, making it more than just a form of elite culture.

Seminar in Japanese/English Translation
Professor Elizabeth Armstrong, Bucknell University
Mondays at 4:40 PM – 6:10 PM & Wednesdays at 2:55 PM – 4:25 PM

This class is an introduction to the discipline of Japanese/English translation. The course will offer 1) a general overview of Translation Studies, its history, theories, and its significance as an interdisciplinary entity, and 2) weekly exercises in Japanese/English translation which will give students hands-on practice in the craft of translation. Students will learn the basic concepts of Translation Studies as an academic discipline and also gain practical experience in translation/interpretation processes for myriad text types. It is strongly recommended that students have completed at least two years of college Japanese before enrolling in this course. If you have not completed two years and are interested in the course, please contact the instructor.

Spring 2025 (Tentative)

Japanese Economy
Professor David Flath, Ritsumeikan University

This course is a broad survey of topics having to do with Japan’s economy. Four themes run through the entire course: Japan’s economic growth and development, its integration with the world economy, Japanese government policies and their effects, and Japanese economic institutions and practices.

Languages of East Asia
Professor Cornelius Kubler, Williams College
This course comprises a survey of the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages in their linguistic and cultural contexts. Working with various types of media including audio, video, animation, and texts, we’ll take up the phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon of these three major East Asian languages, including their history and writing systems as well as how they function in the societies where they are spoken. While this course is not intended as a comprehensive introduction to linguistics, it does introduce numerous concepts and terms from that discipline.
Music and Expressive Intent in Films of Japan and America
Professor Paul Luongo, Whitman College
This course will explore the ways in which the film industries in Japan and America have deployed music to their expressive ends throughout their history. Following a chronological path through the history of both traditions, we will explore a range of themes and techniques to better understand their independent manifestation in each tradition. We will engage with the composers and directors of these films through their own writings as we weigh their conceptions of their work against our own analysis. As we hone these skills, we will learn to analyze these expressive techniques and provide evidence that supports our interpretation of the film’s meaning.

Religion, Tradition, and Temple-Tourism in Kyoto
Professor Catherine Ludvik, Kyoto Sangyo University

Filled with over two thousand temples and shrines, the ancient capital of Kyoto provides the ideal setting for the study of Japanese religions. Temples and shrines, however, are not only sites of faith, but locales where religion, tradition, culture, and tourism intersect. Against this vibrant and complex background accommodating diverse modes of religious practice and sightseeing, this course explores selected aspects of Shinto, Buddhism, and the New Religions of Japan in historical as well as contemporary context. We will examine present-day attitudes to religion, lived by many as inherited tradition, in conjunction with the enormous popularity of the city’s temples and shrines that function as promoters of cultural identity and World Heritage tourism.

“The Four Seasons” in Modern Japanese Literature and Manga
Professor Noboru Tomonari, RD, Carleton College
This course is a study of major works of modern prose fiction in Japan and their recent adaptations in manga. We will pay close attention to cultural, aesthetic, and ideological aspects of Japanese literature in the twentieth century with a particular focus on the representations of the four seasons. We will also consider the relationship between modern Japanese literature and manga, which has become the most popular literary medium during the last century.

Interested in our past offerings?

Thanks to AKP’s Visiting Faculty Fellows program, each AKP term is unique in terms of its electives. While it’s hard to predict what might be offered next, you can click on the button below to see what kind of faculty and specialities we’ve brought to AKP in the past!