JAP4320 – Modern Japan Through Novels

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course focuses on central approaches to the study of modern Japanese literature with emphasis on the interplay between literature, culture and society. How do they influence each other and how does or should this interplay bear on the reading of literature itself? Interpreting Japanese narratives selected from various periods in modern Japan, we will search for a way of reading narratives that will go beyond the literary and sociological divide.

Major and minor historical events and occurrences, such as the Meiji restoration, the defeat of the World War II, student movements, the gas-attack in the Tokyo subway, the earthquakes, and changes in sex-role expectations, economy and demography have provided occasions for creative writing.

The emergence of, and popularity of manga, animation films, TV-games and “light novels” have also influenced the way stories are told. The reading of modern Japanese literature can give important insight into various aspects of Japanese history, culture and society.

A cluster of themes or/and texts to be read and discussed can be adjusted according to the students’ interests and needs. Students who are interested in taking this course are encouraged to contact the teacher prior to the start of the semester.

Learning outcome

  • Methodological and theoretical skills needed to find and analyze primary and secondary sources for the study of modern and contemporary Japanese literature.
  • Knowledge of the aspects of Japanese culture and society pertaining to the selected themes or texts covered during the semester.
  • Skills in presenting findings and engaging in academic dialogue.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Please see the admission requirements defined by the programme option Japanese studies.


Autumn 2020: Teaching will follow the guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19.

A detailed plan for the semester will show which activities will be digital, and this will be updated by the beginning of August.

There will not be a requirement for compulsory attendance for teaching which is done digitally, but we strongly recommend that you follow all the teaching.


The course is taught through a combination of lectures and seminars organized as 10 classes of 3 hours over a period of five weeks from the middle of August (two classes a week). This includes extra hours of help in reading difficult Japanese texts. Active participation in class is required.

Compulsory activities

  • At least 80 % attendance
  • Question sheets
  • Translations
  • An oral presentation

Approved compulsory activities are valid in the present semester and the two next semesters that the course is given.

All compulsory activities must be approved in order to qualify for the exam. It is the student’s responsibility to check whether or not the compulsory activities are approved.

This is how you apply for valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.


The exam is a term paper of minimum 10 pages on a subject approved by the teacher. The paper should include analysis of a subject based on both Japanese primary sources and English secondary sources.

Grading guidelines

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodisk evaluering våren 2019

Periodic evaluation Autumn 2013

Periodic evaluation Autumn 2012

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language