Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mid-term Essay: Topics

To identify and appreciate the fundamental and radical difference between the worldviews of the Heian aristocracy and the modern West, a number of æsthetic and intellectual modes of Japanese thought have been introduced and detailed in lecture. The following choice of topics provide you with the opportunity to apply your new understanding in a scholarly endeavour -- according to the criteria posted in the course syllabus.

1.] As a practical application of mushin, detail how Shikibu's text is not like a Western novel by analysing any section or sections in terms of what is not contained of Western literary æsthetics - or, another way, detail the absence of Western literary æsthetics. This topic, in other words, disciplines you to bring Zen "ego-less-ness" to the genji monogatari.

2.] The Pillow Book is, as we have learned, an intensely personal collection of writing from Murasaki Shikibu's Heian contemporary, Sei Shonagon, that combines monozukushi, or catalogues of things; zuisou, or occasional thoughts; and nikki or diary. Using the techniques of literary analysis and principles of the Japanese æsthetic, draw up a scholarly portrait of the character of Sei Shonagon as represented in what is literally her autograph.

3.] American lawyer John Luther Long wrote Madame Butterfly in 1898 without benefit of any direct experience of Japan or Japanese. He drew his story from the reflections of his sister, Mrs. Jennie Correll, upon her years as a missionary's wife in Nagasaki. With the kind of miracle which is possible only via genius of artistic imagination, Long not only maintains America at a cool critical remove but encodes certain facts of Japanese culture and literary æsthetic deeply and consistently in his text. Using the genji monogatari as a benchmark, critically evaluate Jennie Correll's sight and sensibility as they are evident in Madame Butterfly.


Anonymous said...

For the record I'd just like to point out that I cannot find in your course sybllabus where it is stated what format you would like the essays handed in (email, or hard copy).

Dr. S.A. Ogden said...

Dear Anonymous:

This was the section I was referring to:

"Assignment Deadlines .... all assignments must be placed in the Instructor's mailbox outside the English Department Office."