Syllabi

Inspired in part by talk at Dr. Crazy’s about syllabi (here and here), and challenged by a friend, I’ve been thinking about making a sample syllabus for a course for fun and practice recently. (Wild times at my house, my friends.) The challenge was for an intro contemporary Japanese literature course, but after giving it some thought I don’t feel ready to make a syllabus for that topic yet. Japanese literature isn’t my thing. I’m intending, should I ever make it into a Ph.D. program, to study it more, and I’ve been consciously reading much more of it (in both English and Japanese) recently, but I’m not at that level yet.

I actively avoided modern Japanese literature for a long time. I don’t like I-novels, and since I was such an immature scholar it wasn’t as though I lacked things to study. I’ve taken several courses now that either focused on or included decent chunks of premodern Japanese lit, so despite my contemporary pop culture interests I’m more comfortable with premodern than modern lit. After a lot of thought, I ended up deciding to try making a syllabus for an intro course on anime and manga.

I’m working on that now. I seem to think about syllabi a bit differently from my friend and Dr. Crazy. I can’t just come up with a list of things I want to cover, I have to organize them more. For example, I was thinking that if the class was longer (two or three hours) – which is the length of the pop culture courses I’ve taken in the past – a good way to deal with the first day would be to do all of the standard introductions, have them read the first chapter or two of Peach Girl and then show the first episode of the anime. If I were just making a list of stuff that I felt was important enough to cover, Peach Girl would never make it on there. But when I start thinking about what issues I want to cover, the relationship between anime and manga comes up. The first episode of Peach Girl stands out in my mind as a perfect example of taking each picture and word from the manga directly to the screen and animating the necessary bridging movements. Showing the students such a plain adaptation going in would, I hope, set them up to look for more complex adaptations in everything else we watch.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I’ve got some ideas for themes and concepts that I would want to cover, but I have to figure out how to best get it all together. I think this project might take awhile, but I’m excited about it. After I get a syllabus done for this course, I think I might make one for a course on Japanese film. If the beginning of the anime course came to me quickly, the end of the film course is just early; naturally, Millennium Actress would be perfect last-day viewing.

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