Families in Tokugawa Japan (Proseminar in Asian History)

History 103F.001

Fall 2016
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tu 2-4P

We shall look at many kinds of families through a great variety of sources to explore the (changing) norms and (disparate) practices that shaped households in the Early Modern Period of rule by the Tokugawa shogun (1600-1868). We shall examine the families of samurai, peasants, merchants, and geisha through sources that include memoirs, laws, ethical texts, fiction and drama, demographic evidence, and disparate visual material (from woodblock prints and book illustrations to photographs). We shall explore the variable understandings of key concepts (love and sex, marriage and divorce, childhood and life-cycles). And we shall try to think through the very place of the family in society. It was ideally imagined as an immortally continuous stem household (linking three generations of relations as well as all dependents employed in the household enterprise) that provided the foundation for the harmonious state. But was it also a place of privacy and intimacy, volatility and experiment, that set the state at a troubled distance?

No prerequisites. All are heartily welcome. (I hope some of you might find meat here for a future 101.) Brief weekly reading reports. One short essay in preparation for one longer essay also required.

Mary Elizabeth Berry has taught at Cal for over thirty years and loves the 103s as the most exciting courses in the department (since they are such dynamic collaborations between us all). She is editing a collection of essays on early modern families in Japan and trying to finish a book on Japan’s economic culture in the 17th century. She is the author of Hideyoshi, The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto, and Japan in Print: Information and Nation in the Early Modern Period.

Course Books

Chushingura by Keene, Donald, translator Columbia University Press. ISBN: 978-0231035316 Required
Musui's Story by Katsu, Koichi University of Arizona Press. ISBN: 978-0816512560 Required