This course will examine Japan’s long sixteenth century, or the period extending roughly from the outbreak of the Onin War in 1467 to the rule of the third Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu (1604-1651; r. 1623-1651). This periodization schema intentionally diverges from the traditional division of Japanese history into “medieval” and “early modern” epochs around 1600 and instead posits a messier and more interesting picture of long-lasting social and cultural structures intertwined with rapid-fire political and economic shifts. The course will introduce students to the history of, and historiographical problems with the representation of, some of the most fascinating characters in Japanese history, including pirates, warlords, tea masters, Jesuit monks, Buddhist priests, and peripatetic artists. The course will also highlight cultural production and political power, changing notions of national identity, and the recurring trope of the sixteenth century as an age of individualism.

Gen Eds: BN, WB