SOAS University of London

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

Modernity and Identity in Modern Japanese History 1868-1912

Module Code:
15PJKH026
Credits:
15
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Term 1

This module is designed to develop students' understanding of key moments in modern Japanese history through close critical readings and classroom discussions of leading Japanese academic writings.  The module will focus primarily on the Meiji period (1868-1912) when Japan strove to build a strong nation state vis-à-vis the West as well as to adopt a new, modern identity.  More specifically, the module dissects the Meiji Restoration and its rigorous modernisation programmes by understanding the impact that it had on 1) imperial institutions, 2) religions, 3) outcastes and 4) commoners.  For each topic, a lecture will be given to help understand its broader historical context, followed by close readings, in class, of Japanese academic texts, student presentations, on related topics, using compulsory English readings as well as engaging in brainstorming discussions.  Thus, the module will provide students with a well-rounded knowledge of the Meiji Restoration as well as the skills to translate at an academic level.  Students must prepare their own translation as well as reading the required texts for each week. 

 

         

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  1. understand key moments in modern Japanese history through close critical readings and classroom discussions of leading Japanese academic writings
  2. master the reading and analysis of complex texts
  3. acquire a Japanese perspective on modern Japanese history
  4. analyse history objectively
  5. translate Japanese academic texts into Enligsh stylishly
  6. engage in group discussion

Workload

This module is taught over 10 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture, a 2 hour seminar.  In alternate weeks a one hour tutorial will be offered.  The total contact hours for this module is 35.

Scope and syllabus

The following syllabus is for guidance only and is subject to alteration at the discretion of the module convenor.

Week 1: Introduction: Lecture on Meiji Restoration; Reading Japanese texts

Week 2: Presentation and group discussion; Reading Japanese texts

Week 3: Presentation and group discussion; Lecture on Imperial Institution

Week 4:Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Week 5: Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Week 6:  Reading Week 

Week 7: Lecture on Religions; Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Week 8: Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion; Lecture on Outcastes

Week 9: Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Week 10: Lecture on commoners; Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Week 11: Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Method of assessment

A translation exercise of 500-750 Japanese characters to be submitted on day 5, week 11, in the term of teaching (40%); a research essay of 2500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, in the term following teaching (60%).

Suggested reading

Core Reading
  • W.G. Beasley, The Rise of Modern Japan, 1990
  • K. Pyle, The Making of Modern Japan, 1977, 1995
  • A. Gordon,  A Modern History of Japan, 2002
  • M. Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan, 2000
  • J. McClain, Japan, a Modern HIstory, 2002
  • A. Craig, Japan in Transition: from Tokugawa to Meiji, 1988
Additional Reading
  • M. Jansen and Rozman eds. Changing Japanese Attitude toward Modernisation, 2015
  • M. Weiner ed., Race, Ethnicity and Migration in Modern Japan, 2004
  • J. Breen, 'The imperial Oath of April 1868: Ritual, Power and Politics in the Restoration, Momument Nippoica 51 (1996)
  • J. Breen, 'Ideologues, Bureaucrats and Priests' in Breen and Teeuwen eds., Shinto in History, 2000
  • G. Wilson, Patriots and Redeemers in Japan: Motives in the Meiji Restoration, 1992
  • S. Vlastos, Peasant Protest and Uprisingsg in Tokugawa Japan, 1990  

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules