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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

EAST3350 Japanese Cinema in the World

20 creditsClass Size: 36

Module manager: Dr Irena Hayter

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is mutually exclusive with

EAST3256Narratives of Japanese Modernity: Fiction and Film

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Japan is one of the major cinematic nations and its influence on global film culture is undisputed: from the female assassins and spectacularly choreographed sword fights of Tarantino’s Kill Bill to the slow motion sequences obligatory in every action film and the narrative roles of robots in Star Wars. This module analyses the major directors and genres in Japanese cinema from the 1930s to the present. It situates Japanese cinema in its social and cultural histories, but it also attends to a cross-cultural dynamic of influences and to the tensions between Japanese cinema’s culturally and historically specific aesthetics and the transnational nature of the film industry and the art-house cinema circuit. Students will learn to read films both formally and historically, through theoretical concepts and frameworks such as genre, gender, auterism, Orientalism, national cinema and transnationalism. No prior knowledge of Japanese cinema or the Japanese language is necessary.


To study both the national and international dimension of the genres, auteurs and texts (from critical analyses to marketing messages) of Japanese cinema
To encourage students to engage with the genres in Japanese mainstream cinema (jidaigeki period film, horror, anime, etc.) and the work of the most prominent Japanese cinematic auteurs from the 1930s to the present;
To impart knowledge of the specifically Japanese cultural and socio-historical contexts of production and exhibition of these films
To help students develop an understanding of Japanese cinema as fully embedded in the networks of the global film industry, on one hand, and in the international 'art house' cinema circuit, on the other;
To encourage critical reflection on Western writings about Japanese national cinema as an expression of an intrinsically and irreducibly 'Japanese' aesthetic.

Learning outcomes
Students will build skills for critical viewing and develop the theoretical tools and vocabulary necessary for a more analytical (as opposed to descriptive) approaches to film. They will be able to situate the films in both their local and trans-national contexts of production and exhibition. They will also acquire an understanding of the critical discourses of national cinema, on one hand, and transnationality, on the other, as applied to Japanese film.

Skills outcomes
critical viewing and reading
knowledge of film theory and the history of Japanese cinema
theoretically and historically informed film analysis
formulating, constructing and presenting arguments in both oral and written form


1. Mizoguchi Kenji: from social critique to historical melodrama.
2. Ozu Yasujiro I: silent Ozu and silent Hollywood.
3. Ozu Yasujiro II: The Zen aesthetics of a quintessentially Japanese auteur?
4. Ozu Yasujiro III: Ozu in the world: New German cinema, American independent film, Taiwanese auteurs
5. The intertextual Kurosawa.
6. Yakuza film and period film go global.
7. J-horror: originals and copies.
8. Iwai Shunji and Asia.
9. Nostalgia for the Future: Anime I
10. Nostalgia for the Future Anime II

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Film Screenings102.0020.00
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

90 hours of film viewing and preparation for class – reading the assigned text every week
60 hours preparation and writing of the coursework essay
30 hours preparation of class presentation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students’ progress will be monitored through seminar participation. Formative feedback will be given after the seminar presentation and through the tutor’s office hours.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral Presentation15 - 20 Minutes30.00
Essay3500 words60.00
In-course AssessmentSeminar Participation10.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:39:01


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