SOAS University of London

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

Nation and Empire in Modern Japanese History 1868-1945

Module Code:
15PJKH027
Credits:
15
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Term 2

This module is designed to develop students' understanding of key moments in intellectual history of modern Japan through close critical readings and classroom discussions of leading Japanese academic writings.  The module will focus on the period between 1868 and 1945 when Japan emerged as a modern nation-state as well as an imperial and colonial power.  More specifically, the module examines how and in what way modern Japan adopted and developed the concepts such as nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, democracy, liberalism militarism and fascism.  To this end, the module will be divided into four topics: 1) Nationalism, 2) Imperialism, 3) Liberalism and 4) Militarism/Fascism.  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 intellectual history of modern Japan 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 intellectual 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 intellectual history
  4. analyse history objectively in a wider context
  5. translate Japanese academic texts into English stylishly
  6. engage in group discussion
  7. conceptualise nationalism, imperialism, liberalism and fascism in the wider internationl context

Workload

Total of 10 weeks teaching with 3.5 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture, a 2 hour seminar and a 30 minute tutorial.

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 Nationalism; Reading Japanese texts

Week 2: Presentation and group discussion; Reading Japanese texts

Week 3: Presentation and group discussion; Lecture on Imperialism  

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 Liberalism; Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Week 8: Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion

Week 9: Reading Japanese texts; Presentation and group discussion; Lecture on Militarism/Fascism

Week 10: 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 Readings
  • Pyle ed., ‘A symposium on Japanese nationalism’ [select articles]@ http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0021-9118%28197111%2931%3A1%3C5%3AISRA TJ%3E2.0.CO%3B2-F
  • Burns, Susan, ‘Constructing the national body: public health and the nation in 19th century Japan’ in Nation Work: Asian Elites and National Identities. Edited by Timothy Brook and André Schmid, 17–50. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.
  • Duus, Peter, 'Japanese informal empire in China, 1895-1937' in Duus et al. eds., The Japanese informal empire in China, 1895-1937, 1989
  • Beasley, William, 'New imperialism and the war with Russia' in idem Japanese imperialism 1894-1945, 1987
  • Hunter, Janet, 'Popular protest and the working class' in idem, The emergence of modern Japan, 1989
  • Duus, Peter, 'Liberal intellectuals and social conflict in Taisho Japan' in Najita and Koschmann eds., Conflict in modern Japanese history: the neglected tradition, 1982
  • Wilson, George, 'A new look at the problem of Japanese fascism' in Comparative studies in history and society @ http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-4175%28196807%2910%3A4%3C401%3AANLA TP%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Y

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules