SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Reading Pre-modern Japanese Texts 2

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2019/2020
Year of study:
Final Year
Taught in:
Term 2

This module aims to introduce students to a range of pre-modern works of literature and enable them, with a dictionary to read on their own. Through close reading and analysis of the content, students will learn how to read and interpret pre-modern Japanese texts. Through writing an essay on an aspect of pre-modern Japanese literature, students will develop analytical and critical skills.


Readings in Pre-modern Japanese Texts 1 is the pre-requisite for this module. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. show an understanding of Edo-period culture, as expressed through a variety of literary texts read in the original or in translation. 
  2. use the skills acquired to read selective texts in the original language. 
  3. read a variety of genres to gain insight into the role and function of literature in pre-modern society. 
  4. read, with a dictionary a range of prose and poetry texts from the Edo period.

The module is a continuation of Readings in Pre-modern Japanese Texts 1 and will concentrate on the Edo period rather than undertake a survey of the whole pre-modern period in order to gain a more complex understanding.


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 2 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial.

Scope and syllabus

Analysis of classical Japanese grammar. Selected readings from the Edo period, including Bashô, Saikaku, Chikamatsu and others.

Method of assessment

One two-hour written examination taken in May/June (50%); one 2500 word essay to be submitted on Friday, week 1, in the term following teaching (50%).

Suggested reading

Core Reading
  • Haruo Shirane,  Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary (Columbia, 2007)
    Additional Reading
  • McCullough, Helen Craig. Bungo Manual: Selected Reference Materials for Students of Classical Japanese. Ithaca, N.Y. : East Asia Program, Cornell University, 1988. 3rd printing with index, 1993.
  • Wixted, John Timothy. A Handbook to Classical Japanese. Ithaca, NY: East Asia Program, Cornell University, 2006.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules