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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Part IB | Option

Borrowed by Social Anthropology students


Course Description

This course provides an introduction to Japanese society, its current phenomena and their historical/cultural background. Starting from our own images and influential descriptions of Japanese society, this course will investigate family, gender, sexuality, demography, education, work, and leisure, as well as life-stages and different aspects of the daily (and nightly) life of the various social groups

The course also shows how the study of a society always depends on the questions one asks, on the theoretical and methodological assumptions, the methods one uses to gather data, the kind of sources one uses (or generates) as well as methods of analysis. These issues will be explored by closely looking at a variety of studies, both in content and style, and also by exercises using primary source material, and of course by essay writing. Last but not least, the lectures and seminars are also aimed at preparing students for their one-year stay in Japan. It should help them to adjust to the new social environment as well as to make sense of their observations, their experiences and their feelings.

The overall aims are 1. to provide students with an understanding of key themes and shifts in Japanese sociey 2. to contextualize Japanese society thems within wider cultural, historical and social frameworks 3. to equip students with basic analytical and theoretical tools to approach such issues 4. to enable students to critically reflect common-sense notions of gender, sex and sexuality, family, education, cleanliness, space etc through literary/historical analysis and cross-cultural comparison, for which Japan provides a fascinating example

Form and Conduct

The final examination will be a three-hour paper consisting of ten questions, divided into two sections, based on the material covered in the course. Students should attempt three out of the ten questions (at least one of each section), succinctly demonstrating their familiarity with the course work and arguing clearly and persuasively.

This description is subject to change, for the latest information, students should consult the Undergraduate Handbook available on the Faculty Intranet.

Terms taught
Michaelmas, Lent
Michaelmas, Lent