Majors in Japanese are provided access to the skills and opportunity to explore a marvelously rich and fascinating culture. Through our performance-based language curriculum, majors travel the path from novice to expert, achieving a level of proficiency in spoken and written Japanese that allows comfortable interaction in Japanese society and opens the door to exploration of significant landmarks in Japanese culture and literature. Our literature faculty guide majors through this exploration, helping to hone their skills in textual and literary analysis, and introducing them along the way to a great diversity of subjects from the aristocratic poems of the tenth century to murder mysteries of the twenty-first.
The Japanese major is as rigorous as it is rewarding. Students are required to complete four years of modern Japanese language and one semester of premodern classical language. For students wishing to take more, the section offers advanced seminars in textual analysis and literary translation, and additional training in classical literary language. Majors are also required to take a two-semester survey of Japanese literature, taught in English. With this sequence providing a foundation, students may then advance to upper-level courses that offer greater focus on poetry, autobiography, women’s writing, fiction, theater, and more. In their senior year majors are required to take a Capstone Course that serves as the culmination of their experience in the program. Capstone Courses include Textual Analysis and Practicum in Literary Translation. Majors may elect to complete a Senior Honors Thesis instead of the Capstone Course.
Many majors elect to study abroad during their junior year in Tokyo or Kyoto. In Tokyo students may enter the International Division Program of Waseda University where they participate with students from over twenty-eight other countries to take courses in Japanese language and Asian and Japanese Studies. Those interested in The Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies now affiliated with Dôshisha University in Kyoto, join students from 14 other American universities to do advanced work in Japanese language and cultural studies. Those students interested in intensive language study over the summer in Japan may apply to the International Christian University Summer Courses in Japanese or the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies Summer Program in Advanced and Classical Japanese. Many of the courses taken at these approved study abroad programs will transfer to the major.
With a history of more than fifty years, the Japanese Section at Washington University is the second largest division in The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. The faculty in our Japanese Section includes three in the professorial ranks ( Rebecca Copeland, Marvin Marcus, and Jamie Newhard) and three full-time lecturers (Shino Hayashi, Ginger Marcus, and Kanako Yao).
Graduates of the Japanese program will have attained a high level of proficiency in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, a solid foundation in cultural and literary knowledge about Japan, and the cultural skills needed to communicate effectively in the Japanese setting. Many of our graduates have gone on to advanced degree programs in literature, history, law, business, and journalism. Others have gone directly from Washington University to careers in banking, teaching, publishing, non-profits, marketing, and freelance and are as successful in the United States as they are in Japan.