ALC 310

Death and Desire in Pre-modern Japanese Literature

One of the most prominent themes of early Japanese literature is a longing for and deep appreciation of beauty coupled with a poignant understanding of its perishability. In this class students read classical Japanese literature from the mid-eighth to the mid-eighteenth century and analyze the works in the context of these major themes of desire and death. In such varied works as The Tale of the Genjii, Chûshingura (the story of the 47 ronin), and the memoirs of Medieval recluses, students explore the different shapes that desire and death take, and how the treatment of these themes changes alongside developments in Japanese culture.