Modern and Contemporary Japan
- Module Code:
- Year of study:
- Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
- Taught in:
- Term 2
This module examines the history of modern and contemporary Japan -- in regional and global context -- from the asscention of the Meiji Emperor in 1868 to the bursting of the Bubble Economy in the early 1990s. Together we survey social and political epochs such as the social and political contexts of modernization, industrialization, and the establishment of an overseas empire; the First Sino-Japanese and Pacific Wars; and the start and end of Japan’s postwar ‘economic miracle’. Students consider historical narrative alongside film and literature as a means of examining the simultaneous transformations that defined modern and contemporary Japan.
No pre-requisites needed for this module. This is also available as an open option.
Objectives and learning outcomes of the module
On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
- critique and analyse arguments, identify intellectual assumptions and rhetorical strategies;
- collate and analyse information through multi-factorial historical analysis;
- evaluate the use of historical evidence in appropriate context;
- evaluate and synthesize relevant secondary literature;
- analyse texts and images as historical sources, placing them in relevant context and identifying their historical significance;
- problem-solve by identifying unexamined questions, suggest possible answers, and determine relevant evidence;
- participate in group discussions and collective development of analysis;
- present reasoned arguments in both oral and written form.
Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact consisting of a one hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial.
Scope and syllabus
Week 1 - Introductions: Modernity in a Nutshell
Week 2 - Social and Political Protest in Imperial Japan
Week 3 - Empire and Imperial Subjecthood
Week 4 - Nationalism and Pan-Asianism
Week 5 - The Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere
Week 6 - Reading Week
Week 7 - War and War Crimes
Week 8 - The Allied Occupation
Week 9 - The Postwar Constitution
Week 10 - Rapid Growth and the Postwar Miracle
Week 11 - Popular Culture in Contemporary Japan
Method of assessment
An essay of 2,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 7, in the term of teaching (40%); an essay of 3,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1 in the term following teaching (60%).
- Beasley, W. G. Japanese Imperialism 1894-1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.
- Dower, John W. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Aftermath of World War II. London: Penguin, 2000.
- Dower, John W. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. ACLS Humanities E-Book. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993.
- Gerteis, Christopher, and Timothy S. George. Japan Since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.
- Gessel, Van C., and Tomone Matsumoto. The Shōwa Anthology: Modern Japanese Short Stories. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1985.
- Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000.