31335 - Japanese Literature 3

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will have acquired a profound knowledge of problems and trends in the history of Japanese literature. They can read and discuss literary works in original language and will be able to evaluate literary quality, themes and style of the works that have been studied, analyzing the texts according to specific critical methodologies and reading them in historical and cultural context.

Course contents

Japanese Literature in the Digital Age

Recently, the emergence of new ways of text production, distribution and reading have radically transformed the concept itself of literature. What we read and how we approach the act of reading have changed profoundly: light novels, online serials, keitai shōsetsu, tweets, e-books and online blogs by authors and readers, an incredibly lively literary production, whose impact on Japanese publishing market wold be impressive. The intersections between literature and technology, between writing and other media lead to a reflection not only on the different ways of approaching the literary text, but also on the transformation of the concept of authorship, and on the centrality of processes such as rewriting or remediation, the creation of a chain of translation and reformulation of media and content which in the digital age is the true guarantor of cultural transmission.


Students will prepare a Powerpoint presentation focused on a topic related to the course contents.



Students are expected to show a basic knowledge of the history of Japanese literature from 1868 to present days. Our reference text is:

L. Bienati, P. Scrolavezza, La narrativa giapponese moderna e contemporanea , Collana "Elementi", Marsilio, Venezia 2009

Critical sources:

Rachael Hutchinson e Leith Douglas Morton, Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, Routledge, 2016 (una selezione di passi sarà disponibile fra i materiali didattici online all'inizio del corso).

Azuma, Hiroki, Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals, Jonathan E. Abel and Shion Kono (trans.), Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2009

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2000

Alisa Freedman, Train Man and the Gender Politics of Japanese 'Otaku' Culture: The Rise of New Media, Nerd Heroes and Consumer Communities,in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, Issue 20, April 2009[http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue20/freedman.htm]

Mizuko Ito, Misa Matsuda, and Daisuke Okabe (eds), Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2005

Kelly Hansen, ‘Authenticity in Japanese Cell Phone Novel Discourse’, U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, 48 (November), 60–78, 2015.

Kelly Hansen, ‘When French Fries Go Viral: Mobile Media and the Transformation of Public Space in McDonald’s Japan’, Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 4.2 (July), 2014 http://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/ejcjs/vol14/iss2/hansen.html.

Nishimura Yukiko, ‘Japanese Keitai Novels and Ideologies of Literacy’, in Crispin Thurlow and Kristine Mroczek (eds), Digital Discourse: Language in the New Media, New York, Oxford University Press, 86–109, 2008.

Ian Condry, The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story, Durham, Duke University Press, 2013.

Marc Steinberg, Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Nicholas Belardes, ‘Twitter Novel In The Twitterverse: Read The First 358 Tweets Of ‘Small Places’, The Nervous Breakdown (15 April 2009), http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/nlbelardes/2009/04/twitter-novel-in-the-twitterverse-read-the-first-358-tweets-of-small-places/.

Thomas Bronwen, ‘140 Characters in Search of a Story: Twitterfiction as an Emerging Narrative Form’, in Alice Bell, Astrid Ensslin, and Hans Rustad (eds), Analyzing Digital Fiction, New York, Routledge, 94–109, 2014.

Primary sources:

Train Man. Romanzo d'amore collettivo, Isbn Edizioni, Milano 2007

Mei, Akai ito, Mahō i-rando, 2006 http://s.maho.jp/book/f77f7da116f6ebf8/5088350001/1/.

Mika, Koizora: setsunai koi monogatari, Mahō i-rando, 2005 http://s.maho.jp/book/af5770e0601598ef/6960568627/1/.

Yunai Kizuto, #twnovel ×100 ‘Mirai to hito to akuma to tsui nobe no aida’ (30 July 2011), http://p.booklog.jp/book/30743.

Other materials will be provided by the teacher during the lessons.


The Powerpoint files used during the course will be available for students on the course website (see 'Teaching material).

Teaching methods

The course will consist in lectures held by the teacher and seminars. A strong and active participation in class discussions by the students is warmly encouraged.

Assessment methods

The exam will be oral. The exam will test the student's ability to elaborate on the topics exposed in class, to show the knowledge acquired thorugh the study of the proposed bibliography, and their capability for critical thinking. A critical knowledge of the topics will be evaluated as excellent, while an excessive dependence on texts and manuals without any interpretative support will be evaluated with a positive but low score. The proven and repeated difficulty in creating logical and descriptive connections between cultural phenomena and literary contents will result in an insufficient evaluation.

Teaching tools

Slides, video, multi-media supports. A series of films related to the texts in this syllabus will be shown and discussed during classes. The list will be published by the beginning of the lessons.
In addition to class lectures, a series of seminars held by national as well as international scholars will be organized, whose active involvement is part of the final exam.

The Powerpoint files used during the course will be available for students on the course website (see 'Teaching material).

Office hours

See the website of Paola Scrolavezza