Fall 2022

Japan's Mod Revolutions

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-176  |  History, as HIST-176

Moodle site: Course


Trent E. Maxey (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 176 [AS/TC/TE] and ASLC 247) The transformation of the Japanese archipelago from a relatively secluded agrarian polity in the early-nineteenth century into East Asia’s leading economic power with a global footprint by the end of the twentieth century is one of the most dramatic stories of modern history. This course introduces the history of this transformation through two “revolutions”: the formation of an imperialist nation-state and the post-World War II creation of a pacifist democracy. Situating these revolutions within regional and global contexts, we will pay close attention to the political debates and social conflicts that accompanied Japan’s dramatic transformations. We will begin with the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate, follow the rise of the modern Japanese nation-state through colonial expansion and total war, and conclude with post-1945 economic recovery, democratization, and the socio-political challenges facing the Japanese nation-state in the twenty-first century. Along the way we will explore in the specific context of Japan themes relevant to the history of global modernities: the collapse of a traditional regime, the creation of a nation-state, industrialization and the pursuit of empire, feminist and socialist critiques, total war, democratization, high economic growth and mass consumer culture, including so-called “otaku” culture. Classes will entail lectures combined with close readings and discussions that engage primary texts, interpretive essays, and film. This is a writing attentive course with requirements including short writing exercises and topical essays. Three class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Maxey.

How to handle overenrollment: History and ASLC majors have priority

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions.


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2022