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Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Spring 2009

ANS 320 • From Genji to Godzilla: Adaptations of the Japanese Classics

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30435 to 30445 Multiple Sections

Course Description

In this course, we will focus on "classics" of Japanese literature, film, and theater that have engendered countless adaptations over the years. Our texts will range from the eleventh-century The Tale of Genji to the 1954 B-movie Godzilla; from medieval Noh plays to contemporary manga (comic books) and anime (animated films). We will consider how and why modern artists repeatedly turned to the classics" for creative inspiration. We will look at how the adaptation process has been influenced by a number of factors, including the cultural, political, and gendered identity of the artist, and how it has been shaped by differences in genre and medium. Our goal is to become familiar with a wide range of Japanese literary and cultural texts, including premodern, modern, and contemporary literature, film, and popular culture; and to learn to think, discuss, and write critically on the process of adaptation by considering not only content, but also form and socio-historical context. This class requires no background in Japanese language, film, or history; all literature will be read in translation and all films are subtitled in English.

Grading Policy

In-Class Quizzes/Assignments and Homework: 30% Three Exams (15% each): 45% Contribution/Participation: 10% Final Exam/Group Project: 15%


The Tale of Genji (ca 1000); Gojira (dir. Honda Ishiro, 1954) and Godzilla, King of the Monsters (dir. Terry O. Morse, 1956); Kappa (Akutagawa Ryunosuke, 1927) and The Kappa Child (Hiromi Goto, 2001); the kabuki play "Love Suicides at Amijima" (Chikamatsu Monzaemon, 1721) and the film Double Suicide (dir. Shinoda Masahiro, 1969); the US detective novel King's Ransom (Ed McBain, 1959) and the Japanese film High and Low (dir. Kurosawa Akira, 1963); the short story Grave of the Fireflies (Nosaka Akiyuki, 1967) and the anime Grave of the Fireflies (dir. Takahata Isao, 1988).


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