Courtiers, Samurai, Peasants, and Priests: Power and Culture in PreModern Japan

History 118A

Fall 2005
210 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
TuTh 9:30-11

An exploration of society and ecology from the period of earliest settlement until the construction of the Tokugawa shogunate c. 1600. Includes the development of the classical imperial state, the formation of the medieval warrior governments, and the experience of mass civil war during the 16th century. We are concerned with the complex sources of power-land and food control, violence, family and class structures, literacy and knowledge, social contracts. We are also concerned with the complex expression of culture-in buildings and material objects, Shinto and Buddhist belief, myth and historical writing, poetry and fiction, drama and popular storytelling. The course draws on a rich variety of original texts (such as Tales of the Heike and The Tale of Genji) and includes extensive visual evidence. Two very short essays, one longer essay, a mid-term and a final examination. No prerequisites, all welcome.