Readings in Classical Japanese Literature: Edo

Description: Seminar, three hours. Enforced requisite: course 110A. Readings and discussion of works of early modern Japanese literature. May be taken independently for credit. Letter grading.

Units: 4.0
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Overall Rating 4.4
Easiness 2.6/ 5
Clarity 4.2/ 5
Workload 2.6/ 5
Helpfulness 3.4/ 5
Most Helpful Review
The structure of this course is like a typical translation course except here you alternate days where you're the translator or the reader. There's a mid-term and final that aren't comprehensive and a final paper. This course was a disaster, Duthie steamrolled too many texts and didn't ease students through the work at all. He'll start the class off talking about how he wants you to "just dive in" and "ease you into" the text, but he fails on so many levels. First off, he'll never discuss grammar or any relevant aspects of the stories, you just get PDFs of Japanese textbook scans (with the original in the middle, footnotes at the top, and if you're lucky the modern version at the bottom), but these texts are usually out of date and contain numerous out of use kanji and 1930s spelling, not to mention that if you aren't a native Japanese most of the supplemental text that appears in the textbook will be a pain to decipher. Second, he'll start you off with English translations for the readings, and make an effort to give you passages with no English translations later on. While I get the whole trying to make us better at Japanese idea, it fails because we never utilize the grammatical analysis you work so hard on for J110. As a result, homework usually comes out being a copyfest with a couple of students doing the actual work and the rest mindlessly regurgitating translations. Third, the tests are either too easy or too hard. There's 3 sections, 2 passages from previous readings and a third, brand new section. The third section he said he'd give us supplemental vocabulary for but the midterm was a disaster and only 1 person could actually understand the passage. He compensates for the difficulty by grading generously. Overall you don't utilize any Japanese skills, just memorize all the translations from class and you'll ace the tests. On a final note about the English translations he gives you, I don't know if he intentionally chose to use the WORST English translations or what, but the English translations are very unfaithful and thus, make the readings that much more painful. If you're smart you'll research the stories beforehand and check to see if its translated by more than one author, usually the more modern versions are faithful. I got an A, but this class wasted too much time and I don't feel like I learned anything at all.
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