HISTART 392-001

Anime to Zen: Exploring Japanese Art through Contemporary Popular Culture

MW 11:30-1:00pm
4 Credit Lecture
This course fulfills the LSA Humanities distribution requirement.


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 premodern and contemporary popular visual culture in order to illuminate fundamental themes common to many times and people throughout Japan. The lectures do not present a survey of modern art, nor are they meant to be in any way comprehensive. Yet they will examine a wide variety of films, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture, comics, advertisements, websites, and new media as lenses through which we will focus our exploration of concepts about nature and place, personal and national identity, fantasy and virtual realities, humanity and its borders, superheros in a cross-cultural context, 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.

HISTART Distribution Requirements: C. Asia (includes China, Japan, India, South and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific), 2. Medieval, 4. Modern and Contemporary.

Prerequisites: The course assumes no previous exposure to the cultures or languages of Japan, and all students are welcome to attend.

Textbooks/Other Materials: There is no required textbook for this class.