“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home,” wrote the poet Bashō. In this class, we travel through centuries of Japanese literature, exploring the famous road trips, historical events, and social gatherings that gave rise to new forms of expression.  Our journey takes us on travels through rural Japan that give us fresh appreciations of nature, the seasons, and moments of melancholy and pleasure. We travel, too, into fantastic worlds of magical mountains, ominous sand dunes, and the snow country.  We hike, take steam trains, taxis, and subways, and drive roadsters. What dreams and quests motivate these literary journeys?  What do we learn when we arrive?

Students participate in this journey through class discussion; regularly writing short (150-200 word each) reflective essays on our readings; crafting three creative (500-750 words each) essays; and researching and writing one longer essay (1,300-1,500) on a Japanese literary work of their choice. Studying for the in-class midterm and comprehensive final exam encourages you to organize the facts and major ideas of the class.  Our fall semester journey through Japanese literature puts us on the road, too: we take a field trip to the Ackland Art Museum, enjoy a travel-movie night, and, following Bashō’s example, create our own poetic “fall colors path” through the Carolina campus.

No background knowledge of Japan, Japanese, or literary studies is required. LA, BN.