Japanese novellas and short stories

Course Dates: 26/01/24 - 01/03/24
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
Short stories offer a brief window into a variety of other lives, places, and situations. This literary form has remained popular in Japan over several centuries, with topics as diverse as natural disasters, the beauty of everyday life, hellish curses and the consequences of fame. We’ll explore the history of this medium through a selection of short stories by some of Japan’s most popular short story authors.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £99.00 Senior fee £99.00 Concession £64.00

Japanese novellas and short stories
  • Course Code: HLT202
  • Dates: 26/01/24 - 01/03/24
  • Time: 18:00 - 19:30
  • Taught: Fri, Evening
  • Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
  • Location: Online
  • Tutor: Lewis Ward

Course Code: HLT202

Fri, eve, 26 Jan - 01 Mar '24

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course examines the history of the short story in Japan. Whilst mainly focusing upon more modern works, we’ll also look at some of the earliest forms of the genre to help gain an understanding of why the short story has remained a popular literary form in Japan.

The key texts for this course are two longer collections of short stories, Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (2006) and The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (2019), and the recently republished Star (2019) by Yukio Mishima. Rashomon may be familiar to many as the classic 1950 film by Akira Kurosawa, which combines several of Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short stories into one narrative, and we’ll explore what makes Akutagawa an enduring master of this form. We’ll also consider the ways in which short stories allow for more diverse voices in literature by considering the work of some of Japan’s most popular female writers, such as Fumiko Enchi, Aoko Matsuda and Yuko Tsushima.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

• The development of the short story as a literary form in Japan
• Why the short story is such a successful form in Japanese literature
• The impact of famous Japanese short story writers both past and present.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Understand the history of the short story in Japan as a literary form
• Have an in-depth understanding of the key texts
• Discuss common themes in the texts featured on this course.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Only an interest in the texts under discussion is necessary. We will be reading English translations of the texts.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Some short contextual lectures with Powerpoints, but this course is primarily an interactive mix of large group work and discussion with some smaller group discussions in breakout rooms. Work outside class is reading the set texts and any necessary secondary reading.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Our key texts are three Penguin Classics editions:
Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (2006)
The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (2019)
Star (2019).

Individual stories are listed below:

• Rashomon – Ryunosuke Akutagawa (in Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (Penguin Classics, 2006))
• A Bond for Two Lifetimes - Fumiko Enchi (in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (Penguin Classics, 2019))
• Flames – Yuko Tsushima (in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (Penguin Classics, 2019))
• Planting – Aoko Matsuda (in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (Penguin Classics, 2019))
• Star – Yukio Mishima (Penguin Modern Classics, 2019) NB: ‘Beautiful Star’ by Yukio Mishima is not the same story
• Optional/suggestive further reading: Revenge – Yoko Ogawa (Vintage, 2020)

Many of these short stories (especially the older ones such as Rashomon) may be available online, but please buy the listed version where possible to ensure we are all looking at the same translation.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Other literature in translation courses include HLT179 Modern French Literature; HLT12 Nineteenth Century French Fiction; HLT189 Contemporary Ukranian Fiction and Poetry; HLT293 Latin American Literary Classics; HLT154 French and Russian Literature; HLT52 Struggle to be Heard: Rimbaud, Cavafy, Tsvetaeva, Binta Breeze. Please look up these and other courses on our website at www.citylit.ac.uk under Humanties, Culture and Writing/Literature.

Lewis Ward

Lewis Ward is a London-based teacher and editor. His PhD (University of Exeter) focused on history, memory and trauma in contemporary narratives. He has taught at four UK universities, covering most literary periods and genres along the way.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.