Spring 2018

Japan's Modern Revolutions: 1800-2000s

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-247  |  History, as HIST-176

Formerly listed as: ASLC-47  |  HIST-18


Trent E. Maxey (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 176 [AS] and ASLC 247 [J].) 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 post-World War II creation of a pacifist democracy. We will pay close attention to the political debates and social conflicts that accompanied these revolutions. We will begin with the collapse of Tokugawa shogunate, follow the rise of the modern Japanese nation-state through colonial expansion and total war, and conclude with the postwar economic recovery, democratization, and the socio-political challenges facing the Japanese nation-state in the twenty-first century.  Our goal along the way will be to explore in the specific context of Japanese history themes relevant to the history of global modernities: the collapse of a traditional regime, the creation of a nation-state, imperial expansion, industrialization, feminist and socialist critiques, total war, democratization, high economic growth and mass consumer 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.

Spring semester. Professor Maxey.


Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020