Monday, November 24, 2008

Term Paper Creative Option

For those classfellows who are considering the creative-writing option for the Term Paper, it will be necessary to have me sign off on your proposed format in advance. The proposal must take the form of a set of failure standards -- applying the falsification concept from experimental science, where a theory is ranked as scientific only when it is capable of being falsified in a reproducible trial.

So, if you chose to submit a creative paper or project for your Term assignment, in either essay or point form, list the full set of criteria by which your project can be gauged to have failed. To wit,
  • if the project does not advance an academic thesis
  • if the project does not identifiably incorporate material from relevent scholarship
  • if the project fails to relate directly to some number of the primary course texts
  • if the project fails to represent and demonstrate advanced understanding of the central ideas of the course
  • &c, &c.
This criteria requirement arises from creative submissions in previous courses, where creativity was more than once mistaken (by the student author) for open license. At the same time, it has proven to give the student a helpful planning template and a good stimulus to .... productivity.

The creative project must be accompanied by a concise scholarly essay of two to three pages in length justifying the academic validity of the project.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mid-Term Draft: Copy-Editing Symbols

Follow this link for a legend of the standard copy-editing symbols, used in the marking of your essays.

More here. And here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Location for Wednesday's Field Trip

For class on Wednesday October 29th we will be visiting the Burnaby Yoshinkan dojo for an aikido lecture and demonstration from Robert Mustard, a character in our present course text, Angry White Pyjamas.

The class will run between 12:30 and 2:20 as usual.
  • For those of you taking transit, schedule to have arrived at the Edmonds Skytrain Station by 12:50.
  • For those of you who have their own vehicles, or require a ride from and back to campus, meet at the L Parking lot, behind the W.A.C. Bennett Library at 12:30. We will leave promptly at 12:30.
The drivers will drop the passangers at the 7/11 on the corner of Canada Way and Edmonds and then continue down Edmonds to the SkyTrain station to pick up the classfellows who have taken transit and meet at the 7/11. We will al then walk to the dojo.

We will reverse this ferrying after the lecture, and the drivers and vehicles will be back on campus for 2:20.

Remember the protocol:
  • take your shoes off right inside the door
  • no caps or hats worn inside the dojo
  • Use the honourific "sensei" for Robert Mustard.
The map to the dojo is at this link.
The SkyTrain map to Edmonds Station is at this link.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Civilisation Exclusivity?

I think that this is a fair argument in favour of civilisation exclusivity re. Japan....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Class Film "Wandafuru Raifu"

The class film of which we saw the opening twenty minutes today will be continued through the next few weeks of Term. The reliably insightful Roger Ebert has a very favourable review, here.

Reading the entry in rottontomatoes I see that several commentors found it dull. That, I would say, is a reflection of the Japanese sensibility of the film: i.e. the unfamiliarity with the concepts animating the work. (I understand--& dislike--'artsy' dullness, but this doesn't fit that.)

The English title is After Life: the Japanese title is the English phrase "wonderful life" pronounced in the Japanese manner: "Wandafuru Raifu", in katakana "ワンダフルライフ."

Clavell: Companion Text On-Line

James Clavell: A Critical Companion is available on-line through Google Book Search. The chapter on King Rat is worthwhile.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Even More Office Hours

Look down under the course syllabus for the additional office hours that I have just scheduled: effectively seven days a week.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mid-Term Topics

Note the revised due date for the mid-term, in response to possible difficulties with the assignment posting. Each of these topics assumes that additional credible research at the SFU Library will be conducted in forming the essay.
  1. James Clavell is a quote popular novelist unquote: that is, his novels are bestsellers (Shogun, for instance, had over six million copies in print) and are purchased at airport bookstalls and read by people from all walks of life. In light of material presented in lecture on Clavell's biography and of the civilisation relationship between Japan and the West, make a cogent and compelling critical argument for the artistic merit of King Rat.
  2. Written by a Westerner who had no direct experience of Japan, Madame Butterfly is nonetheless an exquisite and intensively consistent representation of Japanese literary and æsthetic concepts. Using one major Japanese aesthetic and at least two minor Japanese æsthetic concepts (jo-ha-kyu, shichi-go-san, shin-gyo-so, ten-chi-jin) and within the framework of the female erotic sensibility evoked by the genji monogatari, reveal the artistic unity of Luther Long's text, with especial concentration on the interrelationship of the æsthetic concepts selected.
  3. Assume that your audience sincerely needs to learn to understand and experience mono no aware. Use Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day as your exemplary case to give your audience what they so intensely require.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nitobe Gardens

The homepage for Nitobe Gardens gives details about what to expect on our fieldtrip, Monday October 6th. There is also a useful link to their directions page.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Japanese Æsthetic Concepts

My method in our course for presenting the unique and uniquely pervasive æsthetic concepts that identify the Japanese civilisation is Baconian induction: begin with simple particular concepts, add more complex ones which incorporate the simple, and conclude with the metaphysic which comprehends them all.
A summary list of some simple æsthetics, relevant to the civilisation literature, presented in lecture to date is as follows.

  • mono no aware (the poignant sadness of things.) The indeterminacy of translation is salient here, for this elusive concept is comprehensible ever more properly only in degrees as one's (in practice, impossible) immersion (or, requisitely, conversion) into Japanese civilisation increases. The word aware is frequent in Genji, and centuries of Japanese commentators have marked it down as the story's dominant mood: a mood that leads the reader to a sense of it, thus, a cultivated sensibility, termed mono no aware: widened, through Genji's cultural influence, from a literary æsthetic principle to a defining cultural æsthetic. There is a compounding nature operative here, as the individual's cultivated growth in mono no aware is itself mono that induces aware.
  • shichi-go-san (three-five-seven.) The assymetry of the three odd numbers induces a move to completion. Embedded in the divinations of the Shinto-Buddhist syncreticism, the contemporary vestige is the Girls' Festival and Boys' Festival. Tripartite asymmetries of this type are a subtle & effective universal organising mode in Japanese literatures.
  • ten-chi-jin (heaven-earth-man.) In several Japanese cultural forms -- one school of ikebana for instance, and Noh drama -- a sense of something high, something low. and an intermediary: the axes are spacial, temporal and human. The middle concept is (explicit in the configuration of the Noh stage) a bridge -- with significance that, as with anything of Japan, does not map faciley onto any similar or seemingly identical Western forms.
  • shin-gyo-so (true, moving & grass-like.) In calligraphy, block-style, kana & cursive; in the cha-no-yu, of its implements, formal, semi-formal, informal. Shin-gyo-so is an effective schema for mapping the uniquely Japanese manner of reacting to any discrete new foreign encounter. Evident in literature in comparative representations, structural contrasts and developments in character.
  • jo-ha-kyu (gathering, break, urgent action.) A concept exemplified by -- & likely originating in contemplation of -- the waterfall. In literature -- notably haiku -- it signifies introduction, development, action. In music, it has several compounding applications, essentuially a triptych of increasing rapidity & climax. This is accepted as the natural rythmn -- gestation, birth, life is just one obvious univeral triad.

Buddhist Background to Japanese Æsthetics

I found reputable links to pages detailing Buddhist doctrine which, mentioned in today's lecture, forms part of the background to Sei Shonagon's Makura no soshi and Lady Shikibu's Genji monogatari, the Heian culture, and eventually the Japanese civilisation æsthetic.

An explanation of mujokan that is both informative & delightful can be found via this link.

The iroha gets bloggy treatment here and here. More regular here, here and at Monash U. I have not readily found anything marvelous online about the iroha. If anyone has a particular interest, I will bring in a book from my own collection.


The positive presence of absence in the Japanese aesthetic extends to mind. In Zen, the term used is mushin [ 無心 ]: in English "no-nous." [A strict translation of the kanji is "vacant heart" - "heart" in this sense approximating nous in English: e.g. OED: Considered as the centre of vital functions: the seat of life; the vital part or principle; hence in some phrases = life."]
The following from Albert M. Craig's The Heritage of Japanese Civilisation (placed on Course reserve) is an excellent precis of the larger concept.

The Arts and Zen Buddhism
Zen Buddhism in Japan developed a theory of art that influenced every department of high medieval culture. Put simply, the theory is that intuitive action is better than conscious, purposive action. The best painter is one so skilled that he no longer needs to think of technique but paints as a natural act. Substitute a sword for a brush, and the same theory applies: a warrior who has to stop to consider his next move is at a
disadvantage in battle. To this emphasis on direct, intuitive action is added the Zen distinction between the deluded mind and the "original mind." The latter is also referred to as the "no mind," or the mind in the enlightened state. The highest intuitive action proceeds from such a state of being. This theory was applied, in time, to the performance of the actor, to the skill of the potter, to archery, to flower arrangement, and to the tea ceremony. Compare the following two passages, on by Seami (1363-1443), the author of many No plays, and the other by Takuan Soho (1573-1645), a famous Zen master of the early Tokugawa era.

1. Sometimes spectators of the No say: "The moments of 'no-action' are the most enjoyable." This is an art which the actor keeps secret. Dancing and singing, movements and the diffrent types of miming are all acts performed by the body. Moments of "no-action" occur in between. When we examine why such movements without actions are enjoyable, we find that it is due to the underlying spiritual strength of the actor which unremittingly holds the attention. He does not relax the tension when the dancing or singing come to an end or at intervals between the dialogue and the different types of miming, but maintains an unwavering inner strength. This feeling of inner strength will faintly reveal itself and bring enjoyment. However, it is undesirable for the actor to permit this inner strength to become obvious to the audience. If it is obvious, it becomes and act, and is no longer “no-action." The actions before and after an interval of “no-action” must be linked by entering the state of mindlessness in which one conceals even from oneself one’s intent, This, then, is the faculty of moving audiences, by linking all the artistic powers with one mind.

2. Where should a swordsman fix his mind? If he puts his mind on the physical movement of his opponent, it will be seized by the movement; if he places it on the sword of his opponent, it will be arrested by the sword; if he focuses his mind on the thought of striking his opponent, it will be carried away by the very thought; if the mind stays on his own sword, it will be captured by his sword; if he centers it on the thought of not being killed by his opponent, his mind will be overtaken by this very thought; if he keeps his mind firmly on his own or on his opponent’s posture, likewise, it will be blocked by them. Thus the mind should not be fixed anywhere.

Monday, September 8, 2008

English Edition of Gengi Monogatari

Penguin has an exceptional website devoted to their new edition of the edition of The Tale of Genji, and I can't possible do any better than to simply encourage you to go there and be introduced to its glories for yourselves.
The cost, I believe, is about fourty dollars for a book that is as bibliographically beautiful as it is artistically superlative.
Often, of course, choice between editions is a matter indifferent. In this particular case, however, so much rests on the skill and artistry of the translator, and -- oh joy! -- Royall Tyler has surpassed the hopes of even the most optimistic Genjiphiliac.
  • About the book itself, click here.
  • About the translator, click here.
  • A brief essay of welcome from Royall Tyler is here.
  • E-text of the book's Introduction, arranged as hotlinks to each section, is here.
  • Chapter One, in portable document format, allowing you to see the beauty of the layout, is here.

East is East .....

In our course, we are encountering Western treatments of an entirely different civilisation and thus some puzzled is expected at first engagement.

The intention is to allow you to encounter a foreign civilisation .... as a foreign civilisation. The (to me unsatisfactory) alternative is to intellectually colonise the other civilisation - to facilely experience that culture as if it were merely an exotic outpost of one's own. The following passage from
C.S. Lewis, concerning the reading of old books, applies nicely, mutatis mutandis, to these two alternatives:

There are, I know, those who prefer not to go beyond the impression, however accidental, which an old work makes on a mind that brings to it a purely modern sensibility and modern conceptions: just as there are travellers who carry their resolute Englishry with them all over the Continent, mix only with other English tourists, enjoy all they see for its 'quaintness', and have no wish to realise what those ways of life, those churches, those vineyards, mean to the natives. I have no quarrel with people who approach the past in that spirit. I hope they will pick none with me. But I was writing for the other sort.
For my own sensibility, I recoil from the philistine manner in which ideologies (-isms, -ologies, -ianities) self-righteously and unfeelingly plough under the subtleties & individual delights of any cultural or artistic entity unfortunate enough to beome their target of, quote, study, unquote.

World Significance of Genji Monogatari

Doris Bargen's A Woman's Weapon : Spirit Possession in The tale of Genji, opens as follows:
Murasaki Shikibu is to Japan what Homer is to Greece, Shakespeare is to England, Goethe is to Germany & the T'ang poets are to China.
I would add to this: what Cervantes is to Spain, what Cicero is to Rome, what Balzac is for France, & what Tolstoi is to Russia. That is, an indispensable book, large in content, substance, scope & significant: and essential for a truly cultured place in our world.

This by way of improved understanding of our first course text, the very famous Madame Butterfly.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Troll

I mentioned that I have a troll posting abusive comments behind the safe cover of anonymity. Here are two of his leavings, uncorrected for grammar, but edited for decency:

Ok, you don't Japanese, your knowledge of their literature is s!#%, and now your dry h*&%$ing some notion of the 'Japanese mind' as a course topic? Just to buff your own g#^&#!n ego.You're giving 'a!^#*%$ gaijin' a whole new level of meaning Moderate that, you f&!$ing fake.

This from some academic hack playing at Japanophile (w/o knowledge of the language). Pushes the limits of 'gimmie a break.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Indeterminacy of Translation

Lecture introduces translation theorist Naoki Sakai. Sakai details the individual problem of the translator's necessarily paradoxical subject status - an addressor but not the addressee's addressor, and an addressee but not the addressor's addressee - which Sakai incorporates into his larger thesis of the fundamental problematic of radical subjectivity in translation. The subjectivity problematic can be applied on the larger, national, level. Sakai's theoretics, which have similarities to Michel Foucault insistence that bureaucratic departments create rather than serve systems of knowledge, develop the argument that the nation of Japan and the Japanese ethnos are both constructs of scholars and bureaucrats who initiated projects to translate the set of dialects, languages and cultures clustered on the "Japan" archipelago between China (in the Heian era) and between England and America (in the Meiji era.)

For Sakai, "Japan" is defined as that unity which stands in a translational relationship to another linguitically-identified unity. Likewise, "Japanese History" is entirely "that which arises from the activity in Departments of Japanese Studies." Accordingly, Japanese nationalism is explained as a reaction to the insecurity engendered by the inescapable indeterminacy in translation -- i.e. in the very genesis of "Japan" -- that affirms an (artifically) strong nation-hood with a degree of strength that matches, and thus cancels, the degree of insecurity-indeterminacy.

The individual student will evaluate this metaphyic according to his or her own lights. My position is that, for an instance, it is indeed true that the category or the concept of "English Language and Literature" was created when Oxford University began that programme and that faculty early in the past Century. However, the elements of English Literature -- the books, authors, readers and bibliographia -- and the English language had definite ontological status before they were conceptualised. So, it is false, not to say peurile, to argue, for instance, that English Language and Literature were created in Georgian Oxford, though it is true to say that "English Language and Literature" was.

This in the end is simply to say that we are here re-visiting the Scholastics' debate between nominalism and realism -- the age-old problem of universals.

"Literally" In Translation

In lecture I put strong emphasis on precise speech. One of the greatest challenges to translation, & perhaps the most widely convincing evidence for indeterminacy in translation, is vague or loose speech or writing.
Umberto Eco is a writer, theorist, critic and translator of renown. He has this to say about translation:
The job of translation is a trial and error process, very similar to what happens in an Oriental bazaar when you are buying a carpet. The merchant asks 100, you offer 10 and after an hour of bargaining you agree on 50.
Given the essential instability of the tokens of exchange in the translation market, the more crucial the integrity of their original minting - i.e. the need to choose the word that most closely matches your specific thought.

Translation, in fact, takes place at its original stage entirely within the individual. The process is this. The individual has a thought and wants to express it. Both in oral and written expression, there is a process that the individual goes through -- in its extreme form, experienced when writing as writer's block and in speech as stage fright -- which involves a negotiation between the idea and one's store of words & phrases. In other words, translation occurs between idea and word. This can also be described as a translation between inner and outer: between one's ideas & intentions and then the one's interloctor(s)' s understanding.

In this also, the specificity of the word is vital. The challenges are great: as indicated in this article -- or, perhaps better, this audio essay - by Jesse Sheidlower, an Editor-at-Large for the Oxford English Dictionary, in which he argues that "literally" is not to be used literally. (For what [little] it is worth, I think the argument is misguided, though cogent and erudite.)

On-Line Essays on Civilisation Exclusivity

Francis Fukuyama's essay The End of History famously makes the argument that all civilisations share common fundamental values and are in fact at the point of global uniformity.

Samuel Huntingdon disagrees and, as the title of his essay's The Clash of Civilisations indicates, he makes his counterpoint in strong terms.

A good presentation of Quine's "gavagai" thought experiment is here.

The argument is in Quine's Word & Object, on Course Reserve.

Thomas Nagel's article is on-line here (as well as being on Course Reserve.)

Japan and Racial Purity

On the question of Japan's civilisation homogeneity, the BBC ran an important series published online here with a valuable link list of related articles. The article supports the statement from lecture this week that 99% of people in Japan are ethnically pure Japanese and non-ethnic Japanese are denied citizenship even when born in Japan.

One especially helpful edition is here. Click on the slideshow within this article for a useful sample of opinion on immigration from ordinary Japanese.

These articles are relevant to our understanding of the need for civilisation translation and the difficulty presented by the necessary indeterminacy of radical translation.

On Civilisation Exclusivity

I sedulously avoid in lecture the use of Western labels in my introduction and explanations of Japanese aesthetic concepts. Two of the course axioms presented in lecture are, one, that Japan and the West are two distinct civilisations, each with its own exclusive fundamental assumptions; and two, that translation -- even radical translation -- is indeterminate.

There are many labels for these type of concept: "pastoral" and "symbol" are two examples. And, indeed, some of the elements of the overarching aesthetic seem to have an easy Western description. What I am detailing, with some labouriousness, as "the positive presence of absence" is very temptingly similar to the Euclidic concept of gnomon, popularised by literary scholarship of James Joyce (from "The Sisters" story in his Dubliners) as indicating absence.

My general objection to this is that once this type of translation is done, then Japan disappears: it is just one more Western colony. Terms like gnomon and lacuna and pastoral have very powerful cultural -- or, better, civilisational -- history, meaning and resonance; none of which apply to Japan. There is superficial similarity but if the concept is pegged to a Western idea then the meaning in Japan is obliterated.

Symbolism is a strong illustrative case. In the West, semeiotics is not simply what we do, it is in effect what we are. The dualistic assumption that there are visible things and things behind them that have deeper -- nay, real -- meaning is encoded into our individual & collective mental template: semeiotics is the defining feature of Plato & Aristotle, the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, Augustine & Boethius, Descartes & Hegel, Freud & Jung.

To give just one example, the idea that Church and State are seperate spheres starts with Jesus' dictum that one is to "render unto Cæsar that which is Cæsar's and unto God that which is God's," and is more deeply encoded by Augustine's Civitas Dei which declares that the City of Man and the City of God are distinct realms which, though they interpenetrate, demand seperate responses from we who live, at any one time, in one, the other or both.
With this cultural potency -- from the type-archetype construction in the Old & New Testaments to Freud's dogma of the unconscious and exotic interpretational analysis of dreams -- semeioitics is almost what it means to be Western civilisation.

Indeed, in the West's modernist period, ideational chauvanism and colonialism was the (unexamined and arrogant) default assumption. Joseph Campbell was egregiously exemplary in this regard: wandering in lecture across space and time, a facile exegete pronouncing this or that object a symbol of that or the other. Of course, Campbell had merely read his Golden Bough (Frazer being, if it were possible, an even more obliviously conceited pedant) with disarming naïveté and the simple faith of the child.

Frazer or Campbell didn't, but we can and should make the blindingly obvious observation that Japan formed a cultural consciousness without any -- I say any -- contact with, again, any of these ideas or notions. If it is not plain to any scholar among you that there is no flagrant empirical reason why Japan, given the foregoing, should have a mental template that (happy accident for Western writers with a bent toward self-promotion and imperialism in scholarship) is identical our own; then there is, surely, at least a strong influence in the direction of caution and suspension of easy assumption.

Surely, much the better to us to work for that moment of "no-nous" which will give the thrill of perceiving the literary material with a Japanese sensibility for just a flash: a precious, precious flash.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Course Syllabus

Reading Schedule

Required Texts:
Course Wk. 1: John Luther Long, Madame Butterfly
Course Wk. 2: Winnifred Eaton, A Japanese Nightingale
Course Wk. 3: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
Course Wk. 4: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
Course Wk. 5: James Clavell, King Rat
Course Wk. 6: James Clavell, King Rat
Course Wk. 7: Robert Twigger, Angry White Pyjamas
Course Wk. 8: Robert Twigger, Angry White Pyjamas
Course Wk. 9: Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
Course Wk. 10: Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
Course Wk. 11: Siku, The Manga Bible
Course Wk. 12: Siku, The Manga Bible
Course Wk. 13: Recapitulation

Recommended Texts
The Davis & Ikeno The Japanese Mind is a useful précis of the aspects of "Japan" that I will be presenting in lecture in support of our growing understanding of the primary texts.

Support material available on Library Reserve.


Schedule of Assignment Due Dates
(Assignments coded by colour. See separate assignment sections for details.)

September 10th, Individual Writing Presentations, schedule of due dates, due in lecture.
October 1st, Group Project, proposal due in lecture.
October 6th: Mid-Term Essay topics published.
October 24th Mid-Term Essay due in Lecturer's Dept. Mailbox before ten pm.
December 1st, Group Project, due in lecture.
December 8th, Final Essay due in Dept. Mailbox by three o'clock pm.

Mid-Term Essay
A two-thousand word take-home essay from a choice of three topics querying understanding of the course texts and materials.

Final Essay
Three-thousand words essay in an open topic proving command of course material and lecture information, engaging with any three of the primary course texts.

Group Project
A project that uses a creative form to elaborate and emphasise one or both sides of the question, central to lecture, of civilisation exclusivity: the position that at the civilisation level, cultures have exclusive first principles, or foundational values. The recommended course text, The Japanese Mind, gives some specifically unique Japanese concepts. Groups of five classfellows will be set in week one, and the due dates for the proposal and project are listed above. For specific proposal criteria, this hot link is in the Pertinent & Impertinent list to the right here.

The form of the project can be a booklet, a blog, an integrated set of Wikipedia entries, a filmed dramatisation, or the like. Size is not a salient requirement for the project: effort is. To wit, the project assumes 20% of the course effort per group member.

Three Short Writing Presentations
Three written analyses, in essay form no more than two and a half double-spaced pages long, that each present a brief passage from a primary course text as an example of an identifiably Japanese mode of writing. Your essay will quote the passage being treated, declare the Japanese form present, and justify the declaration using close analysis of textual elements.

You will present the due dates for the three assignments to the Course Instructor in class week 2, September 11th.


The course looks at how Japan is represented in World Literatures written in English through a study of five primary texts of the type and one primary text of a translated modern Japanese novel about English sensibility in a Japanese setting. The course explains and assumes civilisation exclusivity: the position that one's own culture is not a valid standard for understanding another's. Accordingly, Japanese cultural concepts are presented and explained, and used to arrive at a comparative understanding of the primary texts. While lecture assumes civilisation exclusivity, the principle will be presented as an assumption, and students are free to hold their own individual position in seminar discussion and course assignments.

Late Assignments.
There is a five percent per day late penalty for all assignments. An assignment is late if it is not handed in in class on the due date.

Documentation for a bereavement exemption requires a published notification and verifiable proof of relation. To document a claim for medical exemption, provide a formal letter on a Physician's or Surgeon's letterhead in which he or she declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented work on the assignment. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled, and may be verified by telephone.

Class Absences.
10% of the course grade is for "productive participation." Productive participation assumes full attendance and punctuality.

Do not e-mail the Course Instructor to explain or announce absences. The attendance requirement may be waived only in cases of documented bereavement or illness and incapacity.

Documentation for a bereavement exemption for attendance requires a published notification and verifiable proof of relation. To document a claim for medical exemption, provide a formal letter on a Physician's or Surgeon's letterhead in which he or she declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented attendance. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled, and may be verified by telephone.

Support material available on Library Reserve.

Instructor Contact:
Office: AQ 6094, 778-782-5820, e-mail address is Casual, drop-in chat: look for me at Renaissance Coffee at the AQ Concourse (3rd floor) Level, North-East corner, Monday to Thursday, two thirty to three o'clock. Regular Office Hours on Monday two-thirty to four-thirty, Wednesday ten o'clock to noon, and Friday nine thirty to eleven o'clock. Also, on Tuesday & Thursday I am available from ten-thirty to three o'clock by appointment.

Course E-mail Netiquette

Here are the points of e-mail protocol for our course :
  1. Use only your SFU account for e-mail to the course Lecturer. All other e-mail is blocked by whitelist.
  2. E-mail (indeed, all communication) between Lecturer and student, and TA and student, is a formal and professional exchange. Accordingly, proper salutation and closing is essential.
  3. Business e-mail is courteous but, of professional necessity, concise and direct. It rejects roundabout or ornate language, informal diction, and any appearance of what is termed in the vernacular, 'chat.'
  4. Customary response time for e-mail to the Course Lecturer is two weekdays. E-mail on weekends will ordinarily be read the Monday following.

In general, course e-mail is for essential matters of Course business solely, and it avoids questions about lecture material, course reading, assignment criteria, or deadlines, which are all reserved for tutorials and office hours. Missed classes and deadlines are not to be reported by e-mail: if a medical or bereavement exception is being claimed, the supporting documentation is handed in, along with the completed assignment, either in person or the Instructor's mailbox outside the Department Office.

Course Outline

FALL 2008

Sukiyaki - Mixed English Representations of "Japan"

“World Literatures in English” is an opportunity to study English literature from and of regions other than Britain and North America. Accordingly, we will experience Japan as it is presented through an eclectic range of types of world English literature. Japanese-born Kazuo Ishiguro writes English novels with, it is argued, a samurai sensibility. Nigerian-English writer and illustrator Siku, famous for his Judge Dredd series, adopted the Japanese sensibility to create the controversial Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation with Jesus as “a samurai stranger who’s come to town, in silhouette.” An Australian, James Clavell, wrote, beside a series of vivid historical novels set in Japan, the artistically impressive King Rat: a fictionalised retelling of his own imprisonment in Japan’s notorious Changi concentration camp during WWII. Newdigate-prize poet Robert Twigger won the W. Somerset Maugham award for fiction for the book he wrote while in Japan: Angry White Pyjamas: How a Scrawny Oxford Poet took Lessons from the Tokyo Riot Police. At the turn of the past century, Chinese-American writer Winnifred Eaton published several successful Orientalist works of fiction under the pen-name “Onoto Watanna”, including the highly successful A Japanese Nightingale. And an example of a Japanese novel popular in translation is Haruki Murakami’s rendering of modern Japanese life into an English sensibility encapsulated in the Beatles’ elegiac Norwegian Wood.

PREREQUISITES: Credit or standing in two 100-division English courses and two 200-division English courses.

Siku The Manga Bible
Kazuo, Ishiguro The Remains of the Day
Clavell, James King Rat
Eaton, Winnifred A Japanese Nightingale
Murakami, Haruki Norwegian Wood
Twigger, Robert Angry White Pyjamas

Davies & Ikeno The Japanese Mind
10% Productive participation
15% Three short writing presentations
20% Group project: Aspects of Japanese Culture
20% Mid-term essay (approx. 2000 words)
35% Final essay (approx. 3000 words)