31220 - Japanese Philology 1

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students will be able to deepen the knowledge of Japanese Language and Culture from the ancient era until contemporary times. Moreover, they will be able to manage texts in contemporary Japanese which show the language evolution throughout the time.

Course contents

First Part - A (30 hours): Introduction to the History of Japanese Language and Manuscript Literature

The course will focus on the formation and development of the Japanese language in order to highlight its characteristics and transformations through the centuries. There will also be an overview of manuscript literature, in relation to which original manuscripts will be shown in digital format, thanks to some open-access online archives so as to introduce students to the importance of Digital Humanities.

Second Part - B (30 hours): The classic of the classics in contemporary language - the Genji Monogatari from Murasaki Shikibu to Kakuta Mitsuyo passing through manga

A masterpiece of classical Japanese Literature, the Genji Monogatari not only contended for supremacy as the oldest novel in history, but also as the most re-mediated and retranslated work in Japan. During the lessons we will talk about its retranslations and compare several versions of the same text, both novel and manga (extract from Chap. 5 "Wakamurasaki).
Then, the same extract will be analyzed in the most recent contemporary language retranslation, characterized by a disruption of syntax and the deliberate absence of honorary languages, by the writer Kakuta Mitsuyo. A guided translation of this text will be carried out in class.

The syllabus with details of the topics covered and bibliographical combinations will be available online among the teaching materials at the beginning of the course.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)


Part A:

  1. Calvetti Paolo (1999), Introduzione alla storia della lingua giapponese, Napoli, Istituto Universitario Orientale.
  2. Bjarke Frellesvig (2018). "The History of the Language". in Yoko Hasegawa (edited by), The Cambridge Handbook of Japanese Linguistics, Cambridge University Press, pp. 15-39.
  3. Kornici Peter (2000), The Book in Japan. A Cultura History From the Beginnings to the Nineteenth Century, University of Hawaii Press, CAPP 1-2-3.
  4. Andrea Maurizi (edited by, 2012), Introduzione allo studio della lingua giapponese, Carocci Editore.
  5. Bonaventura Ruperti (2006) "Forme e materiali, scritture e stili: la letteratura giapponese in manoscritto", in G. Boccali e M. Scarpari (a cura di), Scritture e codici nelle culture dell'Asia: Giappone, Cina, Tibet, India, Cafoscarina, pp. 15-33.
  6. Masayoshi Shibatani (1990), The Languages of Japan, Cambridge University Press, pp. 89-139.
  7. Slide del corso

Modulo B

  1. Yuika Kitamura (2008), "Sexuality, Gender and Tale of Genji in Modern Japanese Translations and Manga", in Haruo Shirane (edited by), Envisioning the Tale of Genji. Media, Gender and Cultural Production, Columbia UP, pp. 329-358.
  2. Andrea Maurizi (edited by, 2014), Tradurre il Genji Monogatari - Testo a Fronte n. 51 - II semestre 2014, Marcos y Marcos (Introduzione e capp 3-4-6-8, ed estratto del cap 5 Wakamurasaki).
  3. Luca Milasi (edited by, 2011), Yamato Waki_Non farò sogni effimeri, Hoepli.
  4. Thomas Harper e Haruo Shirane (a cura di, 2015), Reading the Tale of Genji - Sources from the firs Millennium, Columbia UP, Cap. 8 (Modern Reception, pp. 538-590).
  5. Tamagami Takuya (edited by, 1932 I ed., 81esima ristampa del 2019; Murasaki Shikibu), Genji Monogatari - Dai ikkan. Kiritsubo - Wakamurasaki, Kadokawa Sophia Bunko, Cap. 5.
  6. Setouchi Jakucho (trad. cont. di, 2007), Genji Monogatari - Ikkan, Kōdansha, Cap. 5.
  7. Kakuta Mitsuyo (trad. di, 2017), Genji Monogatari - kami. Ikezawa Natsuki (a cura di) Bungaku Zenshu n. 4, Kadokawa shoten, Cap. 5.
  8. Yamato Waki, Asaki Yume Mishi, cap 5 Wakamurasaki.
  9. Koizumi Yoshihiro (2002), Maro,n? Oodukami Genji Monogatari, Gentosha, cap 5 Wakamurasaki.
  10. Slide del corso

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons in mixed mode

Due to the Covid-19 emergency and following the decision of the Department of Modern Languages, Literature and Cultures, the course will combine two teaching methods:

a) Streaming (part A). All students will follow the course online. The lessons will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform.

b) In streaming and presence according to turnation (part B)
Further details will be provided at the beginning of the course.
Active student participation is strongly recommended.

Assessment methods

Oral examination.


Three different modes can be chosen for the oral examination:

1) traditional: oral exam with 4 topics (tendentially 4 questions)

2) 1 topic of your choice and 3 topics at the teacher's discretion (1 topic of your choice from those dealt with in class and 3 questions, in principle)

3) 1 happyou (presentation) on a topic only marginally touched on in class and deepened by the student with additional bibliography and his research, and 2 topics
(for the presentation, it is at the student's discretion to choose to use a ptt presentation or not; the duration of the presentation should be about 10 minutes).

Even for those who choose mode 3, the presentation will still be made on the day of the oral exam.
As for all oral exams, in case of a large number of students, a roster will be distributed.

During the test, which will cover the entire course programme, knowledge, supported by a good argumentative ability, of the individual topics addressed will be verified. Students will be shown one of the texts dealt with in the second module and will be asked to read and translate orally a couple of sentences. In addition to knowledge of the contents, the expressive properties in terms of mastery of the specific lexicons of the subject will also be evaluated.
The overall knowledge of the topics, together with an excellent ability of critical analysis and mastery in the use of reference sources will be evaluated as excellence; a manual knowledge without solid interpretative support will be evaluated in a positive but not high way. The proven and repeated difficulties to contextualize the sources and answers that are not in-depth or confusing will result in a negative evaluation.

Teaching tools

During the course slides and videos will be shown, and some documents available in open-access on online archives will be consulted. Slides and other useful resources will be made available on the IOL page of the course, to which students are invited to enrol.

Office hours

See the website of Anna Specchio