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Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov. 2013)


Waseda Literature

From the founding of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences by Shoyo Tsubouchi, the start of the literary magazine “Waseda Bungaku” to the production of countless literary award-winners, editors and researchers, Waseda has placed its mark on the world’s “literature.”
This article examines the tradition of “Waseda literature” which has been created by such cultural intellectuals.
Join us as we investigate the appeal of “Waseda literature” which is the pride of everyone associated with our university.

Introduction of courses

The study of literature

The “literature and journalism studies” at the School of Culture, Media and Society provides students with a broad range of knowledge based on the three pillars of “literary creation,” “critical review of texts and culture,” and “editing/journalism.”
This article introduces courses which conduct education aimed at connecting people through language.

Course Name: Popular Fiction Theory

Spreading ICT as a driving force for improving the quality of education and research

Toshio Takahashi
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

“Popular Fiction Theory” focuses on popular fiction (entertainment) while also addressing the subculture of manga and animation, as well as the pop culture of film and music. While referring to the attempt of modern novels (pure literature) to search for new expressions, classes in the spring semester are conducted under the theme of “horror” and classes in the fall semester under the theme of “monsters.”

Both of these themes are related to “confronting and struggling through the destruction and strain of modern society and mankind.” In addition to “Great Bodhisattva Pass” by Kaizan Nakazato and other standard works by Haruki Murakami, Fuyumi Ono and Kazuki Sakuraba, the works introduced in class change slightly each year. This year, the course addressed works such as “Attack on Titan” and “Kamisamano Inai Nichiyoubi.” In addition to literary theory, the course also features the ideas of Kayser, Bakhtin, Foucault, Negri and others. The live coverage book “Popular Fiction Theory 1” has already been released by Takarajimasha, Inc., and “Popular Fiction Theory 2” is scheduled to be released soon.

Literary theory focusing on pure literature is taught at all universities. However, only Waseda offers a course which concentrates on popular fiction. Waseda must respond to the diverse demands of students who gather from throughout Japan in search of varied expression. This course has already produced a succession of entertainment authors, essayists, playwrights, critics, film writers, non-fiction writers and researchers.

Under the motto of “starting by enjoying yourself,” I conduct classes in front of 400 students who pack the largest auditorium of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Culture, Media and Society. All of these students will create new expressions in the new future.

Course Name: Violence and Literature

Rather than providing education, creating an earnest connection between students and written works

Miho Matsunaga
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences
©Chie Shimizu

In addition to considering the depiction of “violence” in literary works, the course “Violence and Literature 1” examines the influence that various kinds of “violence” has on literature, as well as the “violence” hidden within words. Under the theme of “war,” this year’s course examined a variety of works from Greek tragedy to Haruki Murakami. My area of expertise is German literature. Following Hitler’s rise to power, many intellectuals defected from Germany. Following the end of World War II, Germany suffered the sad fate of being divided into East Germany and West Germany. German literature after World War II was forced to confront the negative legacy left by the Nazis. Repeated debate was held regarding the expression “post-Auschwitz.” In my course, I had students write a review sheet addressing questions such as “Do you feel a sense of crisis towards war?” and “Would you defect from Japan if war started?” Instead of reading simply to refine education, I have students consider the contents of their readings from a personal perspective. As a result, students form a more earnest connection with written works.

In the near future, there are many important dates associated with past wars. 2014 marks 100 years since the start of World War I. 2015 will mark 70 years since the end of World War II. Based on the reference literature presented in class, I hope that students will further increase the breadth of their reading.

Course Name: Elective Fundamental Seminar—Practical Exercises in Reading Novels

Giving students hands-on experience with literary work

Hajime Kaizawa
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

This course provides thorough instruction on professional techniques and strategies for critical reading of novels. The course is intended for 1st year students who seek practical study of techniques for reading and writing novels. Of course, fundamentally speaking, each reader is free to read and enjoy novels in his or her own fashion. However, the true appeal of novels cannot be understood through mundane academic reading methods based on finding “interesting aspects of the story,” “empathizing with characters” and “contemplating the author’s message.” In this course, students become able to decipher the numerous techniques and creativity that authors instill in the specific details of language used in novels. This ability gives birth to a fresh experience in which novels take on an entirely new form, almost as if students have been awakened to the true meaning of literature. Such ability is not taught in elementary, junior or high school classes.

In class, students read an outstanding Japanese or foreign novel each week. Next, they write their thoughts on the novel and engage in class debate regarding the work.

Ever since Shoyo Tsubouchi first published the literary magazine “Waseda Bungaku” in 1891, Waseda has produced numerous authors, critics and editors. Today, our university continues to exert a powerful presence on Japanese literature through its Department of Literature and the literature and journalism studies. “Waseda Bungaku” has produced the Akutagawa Prize-winning authors Mieko Kawakami and Natsuko Kuroda. This course seeks to provide today’s students with hands-on experience in Waseda’s atmosphere of literary work, eventually producing the Kawakamis and Kurodas of future generations.

Course Name: Elective Fundamental Seminar—Music Culture Theory

Forming language through physical sensation

Junichi Konuma
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

We live through language. The majority of university academic fields are composed of language. Even fields which are not composed of language cannot exist without the help of language. The literature and journalism studies recognizes this fact, examining language and viewing language subjectively. Specifically, the program approaches the occupation of literature through creation, reviews, translation and editing. From classical literature which has withstood the test of time to new works being published daily, we implement an approach slightly different from the formalities of “research.” Paying attention to every word, students attempt to read and decipher works from the perspective of the writer.

In addition to featuring literature from regions including Europe, Asia and English-speaking countries, the program examines works which possess a contemporary or transversal perspective, as well as works which address themes such as violence and gender. Students also engage in practical exercises for understanding literature through physical sensation, not just through thought. In the course I teach on “Music Culture Theory,” students consider diverse themes including non-music, translation, media, technology and countries while listening to music and considering various musical forms.

Waseda University has a large and diverse student body. Each student forms language from their own unique perspective. Writing is an act that is performed alone and can be done anywhere. The literature and journalism studies directly inherits the tradition of the literary magazine “Waseda Bungaku” and features faculty members who are active both inside and outside of our university. In that respect, the literature and journalism studies is an example of language in actual use. It can be said that Waseda is the perfect environment for becoming more familiar with language and culture.

Faculty members who are active as writers

Mimi Hachikai
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences
“Short Poetry Literary Theory,” “Image and Criticism,” etc.

Kaoru Kitamura
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences
“Practical Exercises in Literature and Journalism Studies (Text Theory),” etc.

Minami Aoyama
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences
“British-American Culture,” “Practical Translation/Criticism Seminar,” etc.

In addition to the professors listed above, authors and translators who are currently active in the literary field are invited to teach classes. Some examples are Professor Minami Aoyama, a translator and essayist who translates American literature and picture books, Professor Kaoru Kitamura, an author of novels and mysteries, and Professor Mimi Hachikai, who continues to write in a variety of fields including poetry, novels, essays and picture books. Waseda conducts education to broaden the learning perspective of students regarding the study of “literature” that connects people through language.

Holding events related to “Waseda literature”

Events related to “Waseda literature” are held in all areas of Waseda University, thus providing an opportunity to encounter literature.
A few of the many events are introduced below.

Talk Session
Why are Haruki Murakami’s works loved throughout the world? (provisional title)

Date & Time: November 12th (Tues.) 16:30-18:00
Speaker: Professor Norihiro Katoh (Faculty of International Research and Education)
Held by the International Community Center (ICC)

Workshop and Performance by Yoko Tawada and Aki Takase
Date & Time: November 14th (Thurs.) 18:00-20:30 (venue open from 18:00)
A workshop and performance by author Yoko Tawada, who resides in Berlin, and jazz pianist Aki Takase.

Annual Forum of the Research Institute for Letters, Arts and Sciences
East Asia Cultural Sphere and Haruki Murakami—Literature which exceeds borders and possibility within crisis

Venue: International Conference Center, Masaru Ibuka Auditorium
Date & Time: December 14th (Sat.) 13:00-17:30
In September 2012, as conflicting emotions heightened between Japan and China, Haruki Murakami submitted a manuscript entitled “Path for Coming and Going of Spirit” which clearly demonstrated the presence and crisis of the “East Asia cultural sphere.” Based upon this manuscript, this symposium features lectures and discussion by researchers and authors from Japan, America, China and Korea in regards to the role, possibilities and future prospects of literature during modern times in which culture is enjoyed across national borders.
Held by the Research Institute for Letters, Arts and Sciences