Classical Japanese Text and Context 1: THE HEALTHY BODY IN EARLY MODERN JAPAN
This master’s-level course is intended to build proficiency in reading specialized texts in classical Japanese centred around the theme of health and the body in Edo Japan; it also enables students to place the primary sources within the context of contemporary medical culture and society. Students will be able to familiarize themselves with a broad variety of early modern material, ranging from health cultivation manuals such as Kaibara Ekiken’s best-selling Yōjōkun (1713) to didactic works for women, popular fiction, medical advertisements and colourful woodblock ‘measles’ prints that provided health advice during epidemics (hashika-e). Emphasis is placed on the material aspects of the texts in their original format in order to lay the foundation for more in-depth competency and independent research. Based on their reading of primary and secondary texts on topics such as the female body, doctors in popular fiction and syphilis treatments, students will have the opportunity to reflect on how the body, health and disease need to be understood as cultural categories that have different meanings across time.
Classical Japanese Text and Context 2: JAPAN KNOWLEDGE: FROM PRINTED BOOKS TO THE DIGITAL AGE
This master-level course is centred on books as media in Japan, with a particular focus on the printed book, which represented a veritable revolution in the way information was disseminated in early modern Japan. We will discuss the history, social background and materiality of the book in Japan’s pre-Meiji past, as well as its future in a digital age. A major component of the course will be exploring the many exciting opportunities that Digital Humanities provide for accessing, studying and editing historical Japanese texts in novel formats; this will include an interactive demonstration of new character recognition software for historical scripts (kuzushiji) and an introduction to the most important digital tools (databases, repositories etc.) for early modern Japanese textual scholarship. Students will be able to gain hands-on experience of new developments in the field by creating their own digital edition of an Edo-period book on the Ten Thousand Rooms platform. A field trip to the Brussels Museum of History and Art, which holds a large collection of early modern Japanese prints and books, will be a unique chance for students to get a close-up look at premodern materials from a broad variety of genres.
Further courses: Modern Japanese Society (co-taught)
Current MA students
Xantippe Melaerts (Edo-period ghost stories/kaidan)
Mathias Boone (Edo-period travel and meisho zue)
Lennert DeCoster (Reclusivity and Edo-period bunjin culture)
Hams Dosuky (Sexualization of young girls in anime culture)
Current PhD students
Yoshihiro Man’i (Early Modern Health Cultivation and Neo-Confucian Philosophy), co-supervisor