This course explores the spectacle and complexity of Japanese urban life in the early modern and modern periods through a study of the eras' visual arts, particularly woodblock prints, paintings, and print culture. Investigation of pre-modern woodblock prints or ukiyo-e yields a rich tapestry of issues and topics relevant to "early modernity." The study of sōsaku hanga or creative prints, which developed in reaction to ukiyo-e in the early 20th century, expands our understanding of Japanese modernity, as well as of the global impact of Japanese art. We will consider the economic currents of the times, the wealth of the commoner class as well as the concomitant blurring of social boundaries in pre-modern Japan, government attempts at control, the powerful entertainment industries of theatre & sex, the visualization of urban literature, concepts of beauty, the "burden" of history, and the demands of modernity. Our interdisciplinary approach will allow us to engage with not only art-historical issues, but also literary, sociological, historical, and religious concerns.
|Arts and Humanities||1 course|