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Traditional Japan through Ordinary Eyes: The Social and Cultural History of Early Modern Japan (EASTASN 24)


In the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), political power was restricted to members of the ruling class- the samurai, whose public possession of sword and surname distinguished them from the rest of the society. Yet the samurai accounted for only six percent of the population. How successful was the ruling class in exerting control over its subjects, and how did the people respond? How were power relations in the society determined- between ordinary people and elites, women and men, center and periphery? To what extent and in what way did the common people contribute to shape the cultural and social life in early modern Japan? By examining a variety of source materials written by commoners, including popular novels, peasant petitions, folktales, tourist maps, and woodblock prints, and by locating the cases discussed on historical maps, we will grapple with these questions. In the map/image exercise, we will see and touch real materials courtesy of the East Asia Library. In so doing, we will illuminate the world of ordinary people in Japan before the modern westernization through their own eyes.

Course ID: 
219 775
Letter or Credit/No Credit