Carnegie Mellon University

Introduction to Japanese Language & Culture

Course Number: 82-273

Fulfills Contextual Thinking Gen Ed requirement

This course offers an overview of modern Japanese society, its socialization processes, and the role of language in expressing, transmitting and maintaining social structure and cultural values. It focuses on multiple perspectives or contexts within which to discuss current social phenomena and concerns in Japan, e.g., historical, political, economic, social, and cultural contexts. It teaches key concepts to better understand Japanese culture and society from the post war to present-day Japan. Students develop and apply a range of skills to analyze cultural perspectives reflected in commonly observable behaviors and social phenomena. Students explore cultural diversity in relation to the traditional view of Japans homogeneity.

This course is taught in English. Previous knowledge of Japanese language is not required.

The course consists of three major components: (a) learning the basic cultural concepts, (b) analyzing how they operate in Japanese society, and (c) analyzing and explaining current social phenomena and concerns. We begin with an observation of Japanese peoples sources of identity and perceptions of American culture. These provide a point of departure for our examination of Japanese culture and its expression in social interactions and practices. We will then take an in-depth look at Japanese societys core values and expectations and how these are reflected in Japans social structure, practices, communication behaviors, and its socialization and education processes. Finally, we will examine internal cultural conflicts stemming from the major social changes during the post-war (1945-1990) and the post-bubble (1990-present) periods.

View the Schedule of Classes for more details

Units: 9
Prerequisite(s): None