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School of History

HST5342 - Japanese Film: History, Culture and Fantasy

Japan’s modern history as seen through film.

Module code: HST5342

Credits: 15
Semester: SEM 2

Module Convenor: Dr Matt Jacobsen

Japan's modern history has been characterised by dramatic and turbulent social and economic fluctuations: forced out of centuries of isolation from the world's political and economic stage; through occupation by allied forces in the post-WWII period; unparalleled economic boom in the 1980s; and the subsequent pits of recession and social crisis in the 1990s. The study of Japanese Cinema, which evolved in the 20th century through periods of profound cultural change, reveals a nation torn between its rich cultural heritage and legacy of tradition and an extraordinary modernisation and global expansion. This module will examine a range of Japanese films spanning the second half of the 20th century, and situate them within their social, cultural and industrial contexts. Some key periods in Japanese History will also be introduced and the purpose and effect of their representation in films considered. Focusing on samurai period dramas (jidaigeki), the rich Japanese tradition of ghost stories (kaidan) and the Japanese animated film (anime) we will be thinking about how cultural practices, values and ideologies are refracted, circulated, enforced, questioned or critiqued through the use of fantastic and historic settings and narratives.


Assessment: Take Home Exam 25% and Essay (3,000 words) 75%
Level: 5