Introduction to the History of Japanese Civilization
[Nihon Bunmei Rekishi Nyūmon]
Instructor: Professor Jacob Kovalio
A. ELEVEN fundamental elements inform Japan’s historical evolution: location in the northwestern corner of the Ring of Fire; intense tectonic/volcanic environment; dearth of natural resources; being an island-nation; a complex written language; non-monotheistic religious duality of Shintō & Buddhism; subservience of religion to political leadership; bureaucratic domination of state and society; existence of one – the world’s oldest- imperial dynasty; readiness to adopt and adapt foreign (Chinese, then Western) institutions/traditions ; self-perception of racial homogeneity. This full-year course – divided into two weekly classes of 1.5 hours each – blends comprehensive factual information and topical analysis of the political (institutional), social, cultural (religion, mythology and art) and economic realms of Japan’s history between the 5th century and 1941.
B. Lectures, discussions and myriad online materials cover fourteen major topics. Students are expected to partake in the annual Japan Culture Festival as well as visit the site of the Japan Studies Association of Canada [JSAC.com] dedicated to “all things Japan,” in Canada.
C. Students are urged to attend classes regularly. Questions and debates are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. However, Social Networking and Eating are allowed ONLY during breaks.
D. GRADING has four components: I – One in-class Fall Term identification and definition test and worth 20% of the final grade. II – One typewritten/hard copy research essay due in late March 2019, worth 40% of the final grade and is to include: 1 – A cover page. 2 – A brief opening summary. 3 – Footnotes as citation style. 4 – Up to ten sources – only ONE 5 – No mandatory length. III– One in-class Winter Term identification and definition test, covering ONLY Winter Term material and worth 20% of the course mark.
IV– Attendance worth 20% of the final grade. DEADLINES WILL BE STRICTLY OBSERVED. STUDENTS MUST COMPLETE ALL ASSIGNMENTS in order to be in GOOD STANDING. The basic textbook for the course is J.W. Hall, Japan: from Prehistory to Modern Times. University of Michigan Press, 1991. The instructor’s Coursepack – a most valuable learning tool, used in every class, is available in the bookstore. Both items are very conveniently priced.