Japanese

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The Japanese program includes courses in Japanese language and Japanese literature. In beginning and intermediate language course levels, students develop and deepen communicative skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Students at all language course levels also meet weekly with a language assistant for conversation practice either individually or in small groups. The weekly lunchtime Japanese Table is a friendly gathering for casual conversation. Field trips to places in the New York City area—such as the Urasenke Chanoyu Center for a Japanese tea ceremony or Mitsuwa Marketplace for a taste of Japanese noodles or to browse in Kinokuniya bookstore—bring Japanese language study to life.

Students may also study Japanese literature in translation in courses such as Modern Japanese Literature, Spirits and the Supernatural in Japanese Literature, and Reading Ōe Kenzaburō and Murakami Haruki. Students with Japanese language proficiency may do readings of primary Japanese texts for conference work. For Sarah Lawrence students interested in studying abroad in Japan, the College has two exchange programs: Tsuda Women’s College in Tokyo and Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka. Students may also attend other study-abroad programs in Japan.

2017-2018 Courses

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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Japanese II

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This advanced-beginning course is for students who have completed Japanese I or its equivalent. Students will continue to develop basic skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing while expanding their vocabulary and knowledge of grammar. At the end of the course, students should be able to handle simple communicative tasks and situations effectively, understand simple daily conversations, write short essays, read simple essays, and discuss their content. Classes will meet three times weekly, and tutorials with a language assistant will meet once a week.

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Japanese III

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Year

This course is for students who have completed Japanese II or its equivalent. The aim of the seminar is to advance students’ Japanese language proficiency in speaking and listening, reading (simple essays to authentic texts), and writing in various styles (emails, essays, and/or creative writing). Students will meet for classes and conferences with the instructor and for weekly individual tutorials with a language assistant.

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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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The Buddhist Tradition in East Asia

Open , Lecture—Spring

This introductory course focuses on the Buddhism of East Asia: China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Buddhism first began to take root in China in the early centuries of the Common Era, having been transmitted from India via Central Asia and the maritime states of Southeast Asia. Buddhism initially met with much resistance, being branded an "alien" cult that was at odds with native Chinese (especially Confucian) values. Eventually, however, the Indian religion adapted to Chinese culture and came to have a profound influence on it, spawning new schools of Buddhism such as Tiantai, Huayan, Pure Land, and Chan (called Zen in Japan). The smaller neighboring countries that fell under the sway of Chinese civilization—Korea, Japan, and Vietnam—first imported forms of Buddhism that had taken shape in China, not India; but each, in turn, further changed the religion in ways that accorded with their own indigenous cultures. Equal attention is paid in this course to (1) matters of philosophy and doctrine, (2) religious rites and practices, and (3) social and institutional arrangements. The lectures are accompanied by copious audiovisual materials. The course has no prerequisite but is suitable for students who have already taken the companion lecture, The Buddhist Tradition in India, Tibet, and Southeast Asia, which is offered in the fall.

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Chan and Zen Buddhism

Open , Seminar—Year

This course is an in-depth, historical examination of the philosophy, mythology, literature, institutional arrangements, religious practices, art, and architecture associated with this most famous and widely misunderstood branch of East Asian Buddhism. The Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism arose in China as the result of a cross-cultural exchange of epic proportions: the gradual intrusion of an alien set of religious ideas, values, and practices—those belonging to Indian Buddhism—into China between the first and the eighth centuries of the Common Era and the subsequent efforts of some 20 generations of Chinese Buddhists to defend, adapt, domesticate, and finally make the foreign religion entirely their own. Chan became the most "Chinese" school of Buddhism by defining itself in terms of indigenous concepts of clan genealogy, by exalting members of its spiritual lineage as native-born buddhas, and by allowing those buddhas to speak in the vernacular, using a mode of rhetoric that was heavily influenced by the Confucian and Daoist traditions. The course begins by outlining the Indian Buddhist doctrines and practices that were imported into China and by summarizing the indigenous cultural milieu that was initially quite hostile to the alien religion. It then explores the various compromises and adaptations of Indian Buddhist teachings, practices, and institutions that took shape within the Chan tradition and enabled it to emerge in the Song dynasty (960-1278) as the predominant school of Chinese Buddhism. The main theme of the second semester is the transmission of the Chan school of Buddhism to Japan, where it became known as Zen, and the subsequent development of the tradition in that country from the 13th century to the present. Books and readings include Encyclopedia of Buddhism and Zen Masters of Meditation in Images and Writings, Brinker, both PDF files; Buddhist Wisdom: The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra, Conze, Edward, trans., Vintage, 2001; ; and The Vimalakirti Sutra, Watson, Burton, trans., Columbia University Press, 2000. A background knowledge of East Asian history, languages, or religions is desirable but not required.

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