Sayuri I. Oyama

BA, Yale University. MA, PhD, University of California–Berkeley. Special interests include modern Japanese literature and film, ethnic and other minorities in Japan, literature as translation, and translating literature. Recipient of a Japan Foundation fellowship; University of California–Berkeley, Townsend Center for the Humanities Fellowship; Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship. SLC, 2002–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Japanese

Japanese I

Open , Seminar—Year

This course is for students with no previous knowledge of Japanese. Students will develop basic communicative skills in listening comprehension and speaking, as well as skills in reading and writing (katakana, hiragana, and 145 kanji) in Japanese. While classes will be devoted primarily to language practice, an understanding of Japanese grammar will also be emphasized as an important basis for continued language learning. Classes will meet three times weekly, and tutorials with a language assistant will meet once a week.

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Literature

First-Year Studies: Japanese Literature: Ancient Myths to Contemporary Fiction

Open , FYS—Year

From deities procreating the islands of Japan to a frog who saves Tokyo from mass destruction, this course is an introduction into the richness and diversity of Japanese literature in English translation. During the fall semester, we will read Japanese literature from its earliest written records to the 19th century, including ancient myths, poetry, epic tales of imperial courtiers and samurai warriors, folktales, and drama (bunraku and noh plays). During the spring semester, we will read literature from the 20th century to the present day, including short stories and novels by writers such as Natsume Soseki, Kawabata Yasunari, Enchi Fumiko, Abe Kobo, Oe Kenzaburo, Murakami Haruki, and Ogawa Yoko. Films, historical texts, and critical essays will complement these readings to help us deepen our interpretative approaches. As a First-Year Studies seminar, the course will emphasize the development of each student’s critical skills in reading, writing, and discussion, as well as independent conference work.

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Previous Courses

Japanese I

Open , Seminar—Year

This course will be taught by Ms. Oyama in the fall and Ms. Funayama (Onishi) in the spring.

This course is for students with no previous knowledge of Japanese. Students will develop basic communicative skills in listening comprehension and speaking, as well as skills in reading and writing (katakana, hiragana, and basic kanji) in Japanese. While classes will be devoted primarily to language practice, an understanding of Japanese grammar will also be emphasized as an important basis for continued language learning. Classes will meet three times weekly, and tutorials with a language assistant will meet once a week.

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Reading Ōe Kenzaburō and Murakami Haruki

Open , Seminar—Fall

In this course, we will read English translations of two major contemporary Japanese writers: Ōe Kenzaburō (b.1935) and Murakami Haruki (b.1949). Ōe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994 for creating “an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today.”  Murakami’s fiction has been described as “youthful, slangy, political, and allegorical” and seamlessly blends the mundane with surrealistic elements.  We will consider not only the differences between these two writers but also the similar themes in their works (social outcasts, alienation, search for identity, memory and history, legend and storytelling).  Our readings will include novels, short stories, nonfiction, and essays; several films will complement our readings.

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Modern Japanese Literature

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar is an introduction to Japanese literature, in English translation, from the early 20th century to the present. We will move chronologically to consider how writers represented Japanese modernity in its varied forms. As Japan’s borders shifted dramatically from prewar and wartime imperialism to postwar occupation, its writers radically scrutinized the meanings of Japanese collective and individual identities. Writers we will read include Shimazaki Toson, Natsume Soseki, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Ota Yoko, Kawabata Yasunari, Abe Kobo, Yoshimoto Banana, Murakami Haruki, and Ogawa Yoko. Several films will complement our readings. For students with Japanese language skills, conference work may incorporate readings in Japanese.

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Reading Ōe Kenzaburō and Murakami Haruki

Open , Seminar—Fall

In this course, we will read English translations of the two most famous contemporary Japanese writers, Ōe Kenzaburō (b.1935) and Murakami Haruki (b.1949).  These two writers serve as symbols of competing trends in contemporary Japanese literature:  “pure” (serious) literature versus popular literature.  Ōe was awarded the Nobel prize in literature in 1994 for creating “an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today.”  On the other hand, Murakami’s fiction, which Ōe has criticized as “pop,” has been described as “youthful, slangy, political, and allegorical” and seamlessly blends the mundane with surrealistic elements.  We will consider not only the differences between these two writers but also the similar themes in their works (social outcasts, alienation, search for identity, memory and history, legend and storytelling).  Our readings will include novels, short stories, nonfiction, and essays. 

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