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JPST 364 Modern Japanese Literature in Translation

Instructor: Alwyn Spies

Pre-requisites: 6 credits of English or other literature courses in English

An introductory survey of modern Japanese literature in English translation. Starting with Oe Kenzaburo’s Nobel Prize speech, we will focus on cultural definitions of “good” literature through the lens of Japanese literary prizes from 1868 on. In other words, we’ll be reading lots of novels with themes of depression, death and social disintegration! We will also be watching and discussing several “classic” Japanese films based on novels from the reading list.


  • Abe, Kobo. 1964. The Woman in the Dunes. Knopf, New York.
  • Kanehara, Hitomi. 2005. Snakes and Earrings. Plume, New York.
  • Kawabata, Yasunari. 1957. Snow Country. Perigree Books, New York.
  • Mishima, Yukio. 1995. Patriotism. New Directions, New York.
  • Miyabe, Miyuki. 2006. Shadow Family. Kodansha International, New York.
  • Murakami, Haruki. 1997. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Vintage, New York.
  • Murakami, Ryu. 2006. In the Miso Soup. Penguin, New York.  
  • Natsume, Soseki. 1987. Kokoro. Gateway, Washington D.C.
  • Oe, Kenzaburo. 1995. Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself: The Nobel Prize Speech and Other Lectures. Kodansha International, New York.
  • Tanizaki, Junichiro. 1984. In Praise of Shadows. Charles E. Tuttle Co., Boston.
  • Yoshimoto, Banana. Kitchen. Washington Square Press, New York.
  • Yu, Miri. 2003. Gold Rush. Welcome Rain, New York.
  • & Coursepack with academic articles

Assignments & Grading

Participation (in-class and online assignments)20%
Mid-term exam 20%
Group presentation20%
15-page paper 40%

Last reviewed shim9/17/2012 11:20:22 AM


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Nina Langton
Associate Professor, Department of Critical Studies 

A Spies icon  

Alwyn Spies
Assistant Professor, Department of Critical Studies 


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