Images of Japan: Arts, Literature, and Cinema

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Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

human development, family studies, education
Japanese language and culture

This program offers a study of Japanese aesthetics and how Western writers and artists made cultural understandings, assumptions, and representations as they adopted elements of Japanese aesthetics. The program’s interdisciplinary curriculum is organized around historical eras and important aesthetic concepts that act as themes to center our examination of Japanese arts, literature and cinema. Japanese aesthetics will be further examined through a series of visual activities that include the deliberation of important works of fine art, both Western and Japanese, and by student works of collage and assemblage to represent imagery in written works.

Our work in the program will include: lectures on culturally significant historical periods in Japan, its visual culture, and enduring symbols; workshops that address key concepts of space, architecture, light, style, and ceremony in collaboration with program colleagues; and readings that present cross cultural principles of aesthetics, such as Six Names of Beauty by Crispin Sartwell, as well as readings that express specific elements of a Japanese sense of beauty, such as Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows and Richie’s Treactate on Japanese Aesthetics . The films we will examine will pose a variety of considerations about Japanese aesthetics and how Western film directors adopted certain Japanese aesthetic ideas in their works; for example, Achache’s film Hedgehog blends French and Japanese notions of beauty. Our field trip will take us to the newly renovated Portland Japanese Garden.

Students interested in this program must be prepared to read extensively and to express their growing knowledge through essay writing, discussion, and visual representation.

Program Details

Fields of Study

aesthetics art history cultural studies history language studies literature visual arts writing

Preparatory For

international relations, art, language, literature, and film


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online


$15 for museum entrance fees.


2018-02-09Description has been updated.
2018-02-09This program will be offered for 12 or 16 credits.