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Viewing: EALC 256 C1: The Tale of Genji

Last approved: Tue, 02 Oct 2018 16:39:57 GMT

Last edit: Thu, 27 Sep 2018 17:14:16 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Diane Moderski moderski ADMIN COORDINATOR School of Arts and Sciences Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Spring 2019
Spring 2019
The Tale of Genji
"Crowning masterpiece of Japanese literature," "the world's first novel," "fountainhead of Japanese literary and aesthetic culture," "a great soap opera in the vein of Jacqueline Susann." Readers over the centuries have praised the Tale of Genji, the monumental prose tale finished just after the year 1000, in a variety of ways. In this course we will read the latest English translation of Murasaki Shikibu's work. We will watch as Genji loses his mother at a tender age, is cast out of the royal family, and begins a quest to fill the void she left. Along the way, Genji's loyalty to all the women he encounters forges his reputation as the ideal lover. We will consider gender issues in the female author's portrayal of this rake, and question the changing audience, from bored court women to censorious monks, from adoring nationalists to comic book adaptors. Study of the tale requires consideration of poetry, imagery, costume, music, history, religion, theater, political and material culture, all of which will be components of the course. We will also trace the effect of the tale's many motifs, from flora and fauna to murderously jealous spirits, on later literature and conceptions of human emotions. All material is in English translation. There are no prerequisites.

Foundational Approach

Course not offered every year
Cross Cultural Analysis
Standing Faculty

Methods of Assessment


Cross Cultural Analysis

In this course we read a 1000 page work, The Tale of Genji, written circa 1000 by a woman of the culture. We also read Japanese works inspired by it up until the present day, as well as studies of the social and cultural context.
We consider the Tale of Genji as it comments upon, and as it was represented in, art, religion, and philosophy. We survey and discuss the social behavior and institutions that governed the lives of its author and characters. The main work is literature, but the approach is thoroughly interdisciplinary. The Tale of Genji responds to Chinese literary tradition, and we consider that aspect as well.
We read in a variety of genres and disciplines, most of them multidisciplinary. We read both with and against the grain of the text to learn what we want to know about the culture as well as what the text ties to tell us and lastly, what it may tell us in spite of itself.

Cultural Diversity in the US


Quantitative Data Analysis


Formal Reasoning


Administrative Fields

Key: 809