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Arts and Ideas 310: Japanese Culture and Artistic Creation



Location: 035 Karpen Hall
Instructor: Christopher Daniels
E-mail: cdaniels@unca.edu



Required Texts:


Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, Leonard Koren

Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, Frederick L. Schodt

Underground, Haruki Murakami

The Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe

Our class Wiki: outsiderjapan.pbwiki.com







Yojimbo, Akira Kurosawa

We will hopefully be showing a spate of Japanese films outside of class time, and attendance will be encouraged but optional.





Please bring a blank CD-R at some point before the music unit, as I will record a CD’s worth of Japanese music that we will discuss.


Course Objective:



The goal of this class is to examine art’s function to expose and reconcile an individual’s relationship to society.  Most art is heavily concerned with this theme, and a favorite vehicle of writers, filmmakers, and musicians to express this is the conflict between the outsider and the insider. 


In particular, we will look at how artists use this notion of the outsider in their art: through characters, themes, symbols, methods, and even the artist’s own persona.  We are going to examine these ideas in the culture of Japan because of the way it has absorbed, reconfigured, and retransmitted the archetypes and themes of our own culture.  We will also, naturally, examine our own methods of employing the outsider in art as well as our reactions to Japan’s reactions to our reactions, ad infinitum…


We will begin by looking at a traditional Japanese aesthetic (wabi-sabi), and then take a look at Modern (i.e. 20th and 21st century) Japanese artists in literature, film, visual art, and music to see how they attempt to solve the problem of belonging to the group while staying outside of the mainstream.


Student Learning Outcomes:


Arts and Ideas 310 Student Learning Outcomes -            


  1. Students can articulate the value of the arts studied and their impact on the self and others.
  2. Students can recognize cultural, historical, spiritual, and/or political aspects of the arts studied.
  3. Students can define and articulate the concepts, methods, and organizing principles of the arts studied.


Diversity Intensive Student Learning Outcomes –


1.            Students understand the socially constructed nature of identities.

2.            Students understand the significance of individuals’ differing relationships to power.

3.            Students understand how individuals, organizations, and institutions create, perpetuate, or challenge                inequality.

4.            Students understand how multiple identities intersect.

5.            Students are better equipped to reevaluate their ideas about diversity and difference.


Attendance and Participation:



A major part of your grade is going to be based on participation – this means that you should be in class, you should prepare by reading the assigned texts, and you should speak up and offer your opinions in class.  You are allowed three unexcused absences in a one-semester class, and every subsequent unexcused absence will result in a drop of half a letter grade.






You will have three projects due in the course of the semester.

1. A short paper (3-5 pages)

2. A work of art – the format is up to you

3. Constructing a page on the class wiki


There are three due dates for the projects, but you will have a choice between the different media for each due date.  However, you may only do each option ONCE!  When you do options 2 or 3 you must also do a short presentation in front of the class: 5-10 minutes for the work of art, 10-15 minutes for the Wiki page.  Each project has 3 days reserved for presentations.





The breakdown of grades is as follows:


3 projects = 75%

Attendance/Participation/Small Assignments = 25%






11            Snow Day

13            Introduction  Intro to the course; First Impressions of Japan; Historical Grounding

18            Wabi Sabi Part 1: Historical and other considerations (pp. 7-39)22    Wabi Sabi

20            Wabi Sabi Part 2: The Wabi-Sabi Universe (pp. 40-72)

25            Manga! Manga!            Chapter 1: A Thousand Million Manga and 2: A Thousand Years of Manga; Also read comics in back of book.

27            Manga! Manga!            Chapter 3: The Spirit of Japan, 4: Flowers and Dreams





01            Manga! Manga!            Chapter 5: The Economic Animal at Work and Play and 6: Regulation vs. Fantasy

03            Project #1 Due

08            Project #1 Due

10            Project #1 Due

15            Kurosawa Introduction

17            Yojimbo Screening

22            Yojimbo Screening

24            Yojimbo Screening 






01            Woman in the Dunes                        pp. 1-83

03            Woman in the Dunes                        pp. 84-160

08            Spring Break 

10            Spring Break

15            Woman in the Dunes                        pp 160-end

17            Project #2 Due

22            Project #2 Due

24            Project #2 Due

29            Underground            Preface, Chiyoda Line Intro, Kiyoka Izumi (12-18), Toshiaki Toyoda (30-39), Mitsuteru Izutsu (45-53), Marunouchi Line Intro (59-62), Kenji Ohashi (66-73), Sumio Nishimura (78-83), Koichi Sakata (84-86), Dr. Nobuo Yanagisawa (220-223)

31            Underground            The Place That Was Promised, Hiroyuki Kano (251-264), Akio Namimura (265-276), Hajime Masutai (292-303), Miyuki Kanda (304-316), Harumi Iwakura (333-345)






05   Superflat                   Materials to be distributed in Class

07   Music                        Materials to be distributed in Class


12   Wrap Up/Final Comments

14   Project #3 Due        

19   Project #3 Due

21    Project #3 Due








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