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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

EAST2470 Japanese Literature in Translation: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Japan

20 creditsClass Size: 9

Module manager: Irena Hayter

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is mutually exclusive with

EAST3470Japanese Literature in Translation: Gender and Sexuality in

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Michel Foucault famously argued that sexuality was a modern invention: whereas before there was a multiplicity of sexual interactions and meanings, with modernity we have classifications and types; sexuality becomes an integral part of a person’s identity. Modernity also brings about gendered social relations that support nationalism, capitalism and the separation of the productive (public) and reproductive (private) domains. But what happens when modern Western conceptions of gender and sexuality are translated into a different cultural context? This module will engage with major Japanese literary texts taught in translation ranging from the 1890s to the present with particular intention to the representations of gender and sexuality. We will learn about some of the socio-political and cultural contexts of Japanese modernity that gave rise to specific formations of gender and sexuality and situate the literary works within this broader historical field. We will consider pre-modern Japanese configurations of gender and sexuality and the way Western conceptions were translated. We will move through themes such as - The changes in male same-sex sexuality (samurai and monastic) in the modern age- The construction of woman as a repository of tradition or as a dangerous, ghostly other- The modern girl of the interwar years: between female subjectivity and male fantasy - Male masochism and power- The post-war condition and the gendered body of defeat- The sexual and textual politics of the avant-garde writers in the 1960s and 1970s - The imbrications of gender, sexuality and ethnicity in contemporary literature Our discussion of the texts will be informed by key concepts in gender studies, feminism, and queer theory. The module offers both a survey of important works of modern Japanese literature and an introduction to the field of cultural studies. No prior knowledge of Japan or of the Japanese language is necessary.


On completion of this module, the students will:

- be familiar with the representations of gender, sexuality and, to some extent, ethnicity in important Japanese literary texts ranging from 1895 to the present;
- have acquired knowledge of the socio-historical and cultural contexts that gave rise to formations of gender and sexuality specific to Japanese modernity;
- be conversant with key concepts from gender studies, feminism and queer theory and use them to inform their readings of literary texts

Learning outcomes
Students will acquire knowledge of the formations of gender and sexuality specific to Japanese modernity (1890s to the present) and the ways literary texts engaged with them. They will also gain an understanding of the socio-political and historical contexts that produced these cultural articulations of gender and sexuality. Students will also be introduced to important concepts and issues in cultural studies (gender, feminist literary theory, queer studies) which will inform the readings of the texts.

Skills outcomes
The course will strengthen skills for critical reading; theoretically informed literary analysis; developing, constructing and presenting arguments in both oral and written form.


Two novels and some short stories: Higuchi Ichiyō, 'Growing up' (1895); Izumi Kyōka, 'The Holy Man of Mount Kōya' (1900); Natsume Sōseki, Kokoro (1912); Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, Naomi (1924); Mishima Yukio, Confessions of a Mask (1955); Tsushima Yūko, The Shooting Gallery (1988), Nakagami Kenji', 'The Mountain Ascetic' (1978), etc.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

90 hours preparation for class – reading the assigned text for every week
45 hours preparation and writing of the coursework essay
45 hours preparation for final exam

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through seminar participation, through the tutor’s office hours, etc.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 words80.00
Oral PresentationVerbal Presentation 15-20 Minutes20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 25/08/2020 11:42:07


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