Fall 2022

Japan's Mod Revolutions

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


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.

HIST 176 - LEC

Section 01
M 9:00 AM - 9:50 AM FAYE 117
W 9:00 AM - 9:50 AM FAYE 117
F 9:00 AM - 9:50 AM FAYE 117

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Modern History of Japan (4th ed.) Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013 Gordon, Andrew Amherst Books TBD
Musui's Story: Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai Univ. of Arizona Press, 1991 Kokichi, Katsu Amherst Books TBD
Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government Weatherhill: Reprint Edition, 1992 Chomin, Nakae Amherst Books TBD
Kokoro Regnery Gateway, 1996 Soseki, Natsume Amherst Books TBD
Japan, Inc. Univ. of California Press, 1988 Shotaro, I. (Duus, P., trans.) Amherst Books TBD
All She Was Worth (1st ed.) Mariner Books, 1999 Miyuki, Miyabe Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2022, Spring 2025