Anime to Zen: Exploring Japanese Art through Contemporary Popular Culture
What is the place of recent Japanese visual culture in the larger history of the Japanese art? Can it illuminate our understanding of earlier art and vice versa? This course examines examples of pre-modern and contemporary popular visual culture in order to illuminate fundamental themes common to many times and people throughout the Japan. The lectures do not present a survey of modern art, nor are they meant to be in any way comprehensive. Yet they will use a wide variety of films, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture, comics, advertisements, web sites, and other new media as lenses through which we will focus our explorations of concepts about nature and place, personal and national identity, fantasy and virtual realities, humanity and its borders, beauty and ugliness, violence and war, the body, gender, sex, and consumption. We will also explore parallels between the United States and Japan in recent decades, considering the ways that visual cultures manifest and shape soft power in recent decades. The course assumes no previous exposure to the cultures or languages of Japan, and all students are welcome to attend.
Estimated Cost of Materials: $0-$50.
HISTART category for concentration distributions: C. Asia, 2. Medieval, 4. Modern and Contemporary.
Course Requirements: Apart from background reading and participation in class (25%), your coursework will include one short visual analysis (20%), a mid-term exam (25%), and a final research project (30%).
Intended Audience: undergraduates at any level with an interest in art, Japanese visual culture, or history
Class Format: Two 1.5-hour lectures and a one hour discussion section each week.
Textbooks/Other Materials: There is no required textbook for this class.