Japanese 235

Final Paper Guidelines
See December 13 on Calendar below

Final Papers Due 5:00 PM, Wednesday, December 22

Fall 2005
Department of Asian Languages and Literatures
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Instructor:     Martin Holman
                     329 Herter Hall
                     Tel. 545-4953
                     Office Hours: T/Th 10:00~11:00, F10:00~11:00

Teaching Assistant:    TBA

Class:            M/W   3:35~5:00  (class will run until 5:30 on days when films are shown)

A study of the performing arts of Japan with an emphasis on the major traditional theatrical forms--Noh, Kyogen, Kabuki, and Bunraku--and the modern stage. The course will also consider music and dance, both within a theatrical context and independent of Japanese drama. The course will examine the historical development of Japanese theater and ways in which the theater both reflects and shapes its society. Students will have the opportunity to see some productions of Japanese theater and works inspired by Japanese culture. Readings will include Japanese cultural history and plays from the various dramatic genres. Class meetings will be devoted to lecture and discussion of history, culture, and the plays we read and performances we see.  Some class time will also used to view videos of performances. Student will also be required to view some video material on reserve in the library.

Prerequisites: None

Course Requirements: One writing project  30%; Two examinations (2x25%)  50%; Quizzes and Homework Assignments 20%

    Analytical papers:  The instructor will provide a list a topics from which students may select. Topics may be modified or expanded in accordance with student interests with approval of the instructor.

    Examinations: There will be two examinations. Examinations will include short essays and identification questions.

    Quizzes: There will be a very short quiz on most class days on the assigned readings, video, or performance. The lowest three quizzes will be dropped. There will be no makeups for quizzes except in the case of extended illness. Otherwise DON'T ASK.

    Absence: There is no specific penalty for absence, but students who are absent will lose the points for that day's quiz.


Brazell, Karen. Traditional Japanese Theater. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Keene, Donald, ed. Major Plays of Chikamatsu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962..

Tyler, Royall, trans & ed.. Japanese Noh Dramas. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.

Varley, Paul. Japanese Culture. (Fourth Edition). Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 2000.

Course Reader.  Available early October.

Course Calendar*
* Please note that the course calendar is subject to change. Please check the calendar when the instructor indicates that changes have been made. Be sure to use the "refresh" or "reload" function on your browser iand doublecheck the "last updated" date at the bottom of the page in order to get the most recent version of this page instead of the copy that your computer may have cached.

Week 1     Introduction

September 8   Course Overview

Week 2     Overview of Japan and Its Performing Arts Traditions

September 13   Readings:  Encyclopedia Britannica article on Japan;  & Varley, pp. 1~47

September 15   Readings:  Varley, pp. 48~90; "Elements of Performance" (pp. 115~125) & "Kamo" (pp.  44~60) in Brazell

Week 3     Noh Theater

September 20    Readings: Varley, pp. 91~139; "Atsumori" (pp. 126~142), "Izutsu" (pp. 143~157), & "Yamamba" (pp. 207~226) in Brazell.

September 22   Readings:  "Miidera" (pp. 158~178), "Shunkan" (pp. 179~192), "Dojoji" (pp. 193~206) in Brazell.

Week 4        Noh Theater

September  27    Readings:  TBA

September  29    Readings:  "Komachi at Sekidera" in Tyler and "Sotoba Komachi" available online at

Week  5         Noh and Kyogen

October 4   Readings: "Two Daimyo" (pp. 226~234), "The Delicious Poison" (pp. 235~244), "Mushrooms" (pp. 245~254), & "The Snail" (pp. 255~266) in Brazell.

October 6   Readings: "The 'Sickley' Stomach" (pp. 267~275), "Kanaoka" (pp. 276~283), "The Cicada" (pp. 284~291) & "Other Performance Traditions" (pp. 292~294) in  Brazell.

Week 6        Kyogen

October 11    NO CLASS

October 13    Readings: "The 'Sickley' Stomach" (pp. 267~275), "Kanaoka" (pp. 276~283), "The Cicada" (pp. 284~291) & "Other Performance Traditions" (pp. 292~294) in  Brazell.

Week 7         Kyogen

October 18   EXAM 1   Covers only No Drama (no Kyogen)

October 20   No reading assignment. Bring Brazell to class

Week 8      Bunraku and Kabuki

October 25    Readings: "Elements of Performance" (pp. 303~313), "The Awaji Tradition" (pp. 393~397), & "The Song of Sambaso" (398~407) in Brazell;  "Keisei Awa no Naruto" (click on title to download MSWord version of "Naruto")

October  27     Reading:   Varley, pp 140~204; "The Love Suicides at Sonezaki" in Keene; "The Love Suicides at Amijima" (pp. 333~364) in Brazell.

Week 9     Bunraku and Kabuki

November 1     Reading: "The Battles of Coxinga," "The First Note of Spring," and "At the Farmhouse" in Brazell.

November  3    Reading:  "The Woman Killer and the Hell of Oil" and "Courier from Hell" in Keene.

Week 10     Bunraku and Kabuki

November  8    Reading: "The Drum of the Waves of Horikawa" and "Yosaku from Tamba" and "Appendix I: A note on Prostitution in Chikamatsu's Plays" in Keene.

November 10  Reading: "The Girl from Hakata, or Love at Sea" and "The Uprooted Pine" in Keene. "Yaoya Oshichi" & "The Pilgrim's Song"  (coursepack)  "The Miracle of the Tsubosaka Kannon" (Brazell, pp. 408~17)

Week 11    Modern Drama

November 15      Reading:  Reading: The Head of Mary  (coursepack )

November 17      Reading: TBA

Week 12    Modern Drama

November 22     No Class--Thursday  Schedule

November 24     ??

Week 13  Modern Drama

November 29   Reading: "Dojoji," (coursepack or on reserve) & TBA


Reading: Varley, pp 235~303;  "Sotoba Komachi" & "The Damask Drum" (coursepack)

Week 14  Modern Drama

December 6     Reading: "Kantan" (coursepack)  & TBA

December 8     Reading:  TBA

Week 15    Course Wrap-up

December  13   Final Paper Guidelines--See Below


1. Select a story from Western history or legend that can be made to fit into the model of a No drama. That means that you will need to make your choice with an eye toward focusing on just two (or maybe three or four) characters whose relationship is appropriate to the kind that you find between the shite and waki of No drama.
2. Indicate which character is the shite and which is the waki (and which are shitezure, wakizure, or ai, if you choose to include these parts).
3. Write a synopsis of what your No play would be, including enough background information so that we can understand the characters and their situations. (200 words)
4. Write a page of script of your No play, preferably the part of the second act in which the shite reveals his identity.
5. Write an essay describing how your No play fits the No paradigm. Explain how your play fulfills the expectations of No drama. Cite parallel examples from traditional Japanese No plays that support the argument that your play also qualifies as No. (1000+ words).

Submit your paper under the door of my office (Herter 329) by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, December 22.

Final Exam Materials

The final exam will cover all material that we have read and discussed in class, inlcudiing No drama, which was covered on the mid-term exam.  That said, it will focus on the following:
Sotaba Komachi (traditional No play) at the following URL:

From Brazell:


The Sickley Stomach
The Delicious Poison

The Song of Sambaso
The Miracle of the Tsubosaka Kannon

From Tyler:

Komachi at Sekidera
The Damask Drum

From Keene/Chikamatsu:

The Love Suicides at Sonezaki
The Love Suicides at Amijima
The Courier for Hell
The Woman Killerand the Hell of Oil
Gonza the Lancer

Class Handouts:
Sotaoba Komachi (modern version by Yukio Mishima)
Damask Drum (modern version by Yukio Mishima)
The Head of Mary

This page last updated December 13, 2004.