JAPA 108 ESSAY
Write around 1,500 words on one of the following topics.
Please submit by Monday 27 October.
1. What do you think makes Japanese culture distinct?
2. Discuss the works/beliefs of any commentator / scholar on Japanese culture, either Japanese or foreign.
3. Discuss one or more minorities in Japan with regard to their cultural aspects.
4. Discuss the major belief systems in Japan – you can focus on one or all.
5. Discuss Japanese mythology.
6. Discuss Japanese aesthetics.
7. Discuss sport/games in Japan.
8. Choose a representative poet from either the Kokinshū or the Shinkokinshū and, using examples, discuss his/her poetry in terms of theme, technique and tone. How does his/her poetry reflect the poetics and spirit (i.e. Japanese world-view, customs, politics etc.) of his/her time?
9. During which period(s) were the concepts of mujōkan and mappō especially influential, and why? Discuss, with examples, how it colours the literature of that period(s).
10. Discuss the significance of “open spaces” or “blanks” in poetry and other art forms of the medieval period.
11. Ivan Morris says the following of the protagonist in Saikaku’s The Life of an Amorous Woman (Koshoku Ichidai Onna):
"The protagonist of The Life of an Amorous Woman is, in blunt terms, a nymphomaniac and the book describes the steady degradation that results from her efforts to find a constant variety of sexual enjoyment, while at the same time surviving economically as a single woman in a harsh feudal society."
Is this fair comment?
12. Who were the après guerre writers and what are some of the characteristics of their works? Discuss with examples from a number of novelists’ works or by focusing on the works of one novelist.
13 Choose a contemporary Japanese novelist and discuss her/his life and works.
14. Choose a modern or contemporary Japanese novelist and discuss one particular theme running through her/his writing.
15 A topic of your own choice. Please consult with the course coordinator on the feasibility of your proposed topic prior to finalizing.