238/ASIAN STUDIES 338:
of Modern Japan
Department of Anthropology
Philadelphia, PA 19122 USA
Fall Semester, 2002
hyakubun wa ikken nishikazu
a Chinese inspired Japanese proverb that stresses
"One look (or view) is worth more than 100
This course offers an anthropological approach to systems
of visual communication that are central to understanding
Japanese society and culture. Themes and perspectives from
visual anthropology will be applied to visual sign systems
of everyday life (writing, clothes, food, etc.), to the prevalence
and influences of popular culture emphasizing mass mediated
forms as manga (comic books), advertisements, etc. The course
will also include ethnographic films about Japanese culture
as well a review of how Japanese culture is communicated to
mass audiences through classic and contemporary feature films
as well as network television. We will try to "unpack"
or "unwrap" some of the stereotypic reductions common
to superficial knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture. In
short, we explore the visual basis of Japanese society through
principles grounded in visual anthropology -- through an integration
of theoretical concerns central to both culture and visual
Students will understand better how
a visual anthropologist would seek to study and "know"
another culture, specifically Japan -- what would be looked
at and what methods would be most suitable to see what has
been "made to be seen."
Students will be evaluated through a
late midterm exam (40%), a term project (50%) as well as short
quizzes or essays based on observational exercises and class
Packet: Readings for Anthropology
238: Visual Anthropology of Modern Japan
These packets are available from Docucare, located at 900
North Broad Street
(call 215-235-8740 before going to ensure availability and
of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizak
Stony Creek, CT: Leetes Island Books, 1977 (1933).
Geisha, Gangster, Neighbor, Nun
[or Public People, Private People, 1996]
by Donald Richie, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1987.
Presentation and Power in Japan
by Joy Hendry, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
A Lateral View -- Essays on Contemporary
by Donald Richie, Tokyo: The Japan Times, 1987.
The Key by Junichiro Tanizaki
Rutland, VT: Charles E Tuttle Books, 1997 (1960).
An Anthropologist in Japan: Glimpses
of Life in the Field
by Joy Hendry. New York: Routledge,1999.
by Darrell Davis, New York: Columbia University Press,1997.