Academic year
2023/2024 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LM001N (AF:440966 AR:248690)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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This is one of the characterizing subjects within the "Japan" curriculum of the graduate course in "Lingue e Culture dell'Asia e dell'Africa Mediterranea".
The course contributes to the attainment of the teaching goals of the graduate course in the area of language skills and includes also the more specific goals of the cultural and humanities areas.
The main objectives of the course are: 1) to acquire a foundational knowledge of Japanese premodern literature’s genres, literary techniques, and historical development; 2) to develop critical thinking skills through textual, historical, and socio-cultural analysis, through a variety of activities including close reading, class discussion, and longer written analyses; 3) to gain competencies in situating literature in its socio-cultural, political, ideological,
and historical context, and in critically assessing the relationship between works of literature produced in different periods; 4) to acquire useful tools to conduct bibliographic research and work independently on different topics of Japanese premodern literature ; 5) to learn how to write an academic essay.
Knowledge and understanding:
- to know and understand the main authors and works of Japanese premodern literature
- to know and understand concepts and tools from the fields of literary criticism and historiography
- to deepen the knowledge and understanding of historical contexts through the analysis of literary texts
- to know useful tools to conduct independently bibliographic research

Applying knowledge and understanding:
- to analyze and interpret literary texts by using concepts and tools from the fields of literary criticism and historiography
- to critically apply concepts from literary historiography to the historical period studied in the course
- to use bibliographic references in different languages (included Japanese)
- to conduct new and interdisciplinary researches

Making judgements:
- to produce critical judgments on the textual and historical-literary phenomena that are part of the program
- to subject various types of sources (academic and creative texts) to critical examination
- to develop original and innovative theories on the topics introduced during the lessons

- to express one's opinion in an effective way
- to re-elaborate and express in an effective way the opinions of other people
- to write independently an academic essays on Japanese premodern literature
- to analyze and translate texts written in Classical Japanese

Lifelong learning skills:
- to know how to conduct bibliographic research
- to know how to critically integrate the study of different materials (notes, slides, manuals, creative texts, academic articles)
- to be able to read and re-elaborate in a synthetic way materials written in different languages
- to refine one's ability to use the online teaching platform
- to know how to write an academic essay in an effective way
A solid knowledge of Japanese political and social history from the X to XII century. Good command of classical and modern Japanese.
This course through close readings of the Kagerō Diary (Kagerō nikki, 974 ca.) and other works written by women in the same historical period will explore the literature of memory and autobiography— how Japanese women writers across the historical and cultural spectrum have written of themselves— their experiences, their relationships, their world. Our aim will be to appreciate the representation of gender, the ideas of love and romance, the education and the moral values of women lived in the X-XI century Japan in order to prove how these aspects are conditioned by intersecting social, cultural, religious and political factors.
Students will be expected to develop translation skills (expecially from modern and classical Japanese) and sharpen their ability to apply philological and critical arguments to selected pieces of the Kagerō Diary. They will also learn how to conduct bibliographic research and how to write a brief academic essay on the topics discussed during the lessons. For this purpose the teacher will explain how to use several databases and websites of national and international libraries. Teacher will also guide students to the gradual process of writing academic essays and to the correct use of editorial rules.
- Ambros, Barbara (2015). “The Heian period: Women in Buddhism and Court Ritual”. Women in Japanese Religions, New York: NYU Press, 56-75.
- Arntzen Sonja (1997). The Kagerō Diary. A Woman's Authobiographical Text from Tenth-Century Japan. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan, 1-50.
- Childs Margaret H. (1999). “The Value of Vulnerability: Sexual Coercion and the Nature of Love in Japanese Court Literature,” Journal of Asian Studies 58 (4), 1059-79.
- Mostow Joshua S. (2004). At the House of Gathered Leaves: Shorter Biographical and Autobiographical Narratives from Japanese Court Literature. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1-44.
- Mostow Joshua S. (1993). “Self and Landscape in Kagerō nikki”, Review of Japanese Culture and Society 5, 8-19.
- Mostow Joshua S. (1992). “The Amorous Statesman and the Poetess: The Politics of Authobiography and the Kagerō nikki”, Japan Forum 4 (2), 303-315.
- Negri C. (2002). “Marriage in the Heian Period (794-1185): The Importance of Comparison with Literary Texts”. Annali dell’Istituto Universitario Orientale, 60/61, 467-93.
- Nickerson Peter (1993). “The Meaning of Matrilocality, Kinship, Property and Politics in Mid-Heian”. Monumenta Nipponica 48 (4), 429-467.
- Pigeot Jacqueline (2014). “From the Kagerō no nikki to the Genji monogatari”. Cipango, 3, 1-12.
- Ramirez-Christensen Esperanza (2001). “Self-Representation and the Patriarchy in the Heian Female Memoirs”. Rebecca Copeland, Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen (eds.), The Father-Daughter Plot, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 49-88.
-Sarra Edith (1999). “The Engendering of the Heroine in the Kagerō nikki”, Fiction of Femininity: Literary Inventions of Gender in Japanese Court Women's Memoirs. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 31-80.
- Suzuki Tomi (2000). “Gender and Genre: Modern Literary Histories and Women’s Diary Literature”. Haruo Shirane, Tomi Suzuki (eds.). Inventing the Classics. Modernity, National Identity, and Japanese Literature. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 71-95.
- Wallace John R. (2005). “Gossamer Years. Coping with Love and Social Uncertainty”, Objects of Discourse. Memoirs by Women of Heian Japan. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 55-106.
- Wakita Haruko (1984). “Marriage and Property in Premodern Japan from the Perspective of Women’s History”. Transl. with an introduction by S.Gay. The Journal of Japanese Studies, 10 (1), 73-99.
- Watanabe Minoru (1984). “Style and Point of View in Kagerō Nikki,” trans. Richard Bowring. Journal of Japanese Studies 10 (2), 365-384.
Teacher will provide texts including the quotations in Classical Japanese from some selected works.
The achievement of the objectives of the course will be verified as follows:
a) Evaluation of a short essay (max 3000 words, 50% of the final mark) focusing on the analysis of one of the topics discussed during the class. The essay submitted one week before the oral exam will be graded considering the following three aspects: 1) quality and completeness of bibliography (including also references in Japanese); 2) clarity of presentation and ability to organize an organic and coherent critical analysis; 3) accuracy in writing bibliographic references.
b) Evaluation of an interview (50% of the final mark). The Interview (about 30 minutes) includes 3 parts: 1) discussion on the essay submitted; 2) critical discussion on the contents of 2 articles / chapters included in the "referral texts"; 3) translation and analysis of one quotation from a work written in classical Japanese introduced during the class.
Frontal Lessons with Power Point presentations
written and oral
This programme is provisional and there could still be changes in its contents.
Last update of the programme: 15/02/2024