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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

History (HIST)

HIST 172 (IL) Survey of Japanese Civilization (3) Survey of social, institutional, cultural, and religious developments from ancient times to the present.

HIST 172 Survey of Japanese Civilization (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course is a survey of Japanese history. Because it is impossible to study all aspects of Japanese history in 15 weeks, the course, while broad, will not be comprehensive. Approximately 50% of the course will be devoted to pre-modern Japan and Buddhism, 25% to early modern Japan, and 25% to modern Japan. The modern segment of the course will focus on the late 19th and early 20th centuries and on the difficult concept of nations and national identity. We will examine the creation of Japan as a nation from the perspective of a series of topics, all of which are linked by the theme of "making Japanese." (The meaning of this theme should become apparent to you as you work through the second half of the course, though it may not make sense at the beginning.) The course assumes no prior background in Japanese or East Asian history. It is aimed at students who have grown up in the United States, but it can be useful and interesting for students of all backgrounds. Although there are no formal prerequisites for the course, true college-level skills in reading, writing, computer literacy, and thinking are assumed of all students. Success in the course also requires a discipline for work and reasonably effective study habits. The course is fast paced and students should expect to spend 1-2 hours of quality study outside of class for each class hour. It is particularly important to begin preparing the essay well in advance, ideally starting the first week of the course. There are three factors that tend to make History 172 more demanding than other introductory courses in history. First, the names of Japanese people, places, and things are, of course, in Japanese. This fact puts an added burden on the memories of the majority of students, since most will be unfamiliar with Japanese. Remembering the key names, therefore, will require additional effort. Second, many aspects of Japanese culture and political organization will be largely or entirely unfamiliar to most students from the United States (and elsewhere), and will therefore require more effort to comprehend. This second factor, i.e., the "foreignness," may also make the course more interesting for some students. Third is a high expectation of mastery. In other words, to do well in this course, you will need to understand its key points and concepts thoroughly. It is not possible to succeed simply by memorizing a list of items and spitting them back on exams. Students will be evaluated on three essay exams, participation in class discussions of assigned readings, and a major book review paper. History 172 is an excellent foundation for History 480 (Medieval Japan) or History 481 (Modern Japan), and is one of the courses that satisfy the prerequisite requirements for 480 and 481. It is also an excellent foundation for the further study of East Asia or for students interested in comparative history. In addition to satisfying GI requirements, History 172 satisfies general credit requirements for the history major and minor, including the "non-western" component of the major. The course also may be used to fulfill requirements for the East Asian Studies major, the Asian Area Studies minor, and the major and minor in Japanese. This course will be offered once a year with 50 seats per offering.

General Education: None
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2005 Ending: Summer 2015

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.