Fall 2020 - I took this class during remote learning so the structure could be different from the class in real time. All I have to say is please take this GE!! It's literally amazing. Professor Duthie is a great lecturer with good humor and clear presentation structure. He expanded the content on the textbook and I've learned so much about Japan and its history in this class. The assignments are fairly graded, and you will get a good score as long as you write them carefully and integrate the class materials. Huge shoutout to my TA Kristin for teaching us how to write effective responses!!
this is regarding the A portion of the class in the A/B series. you're supposed to study both grammar AND classical texts in this class, but in lecture he barely goes over the grammar (maybe about 10 minutes) and you're supposed to learn a new chapter of grammar for every single class. the rest of the class is devoted to translating the assigned texts. i wish he'd teach the grammar more because it's very difficult, rather than spending almost the whole time on the text, which you can look up translations for and explanations online.
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in the middle, footnotes at the top, and if you're lucky the modern version at the bottom), but these texts are usually out of date and contain numerous out of use kanji and 1930s spelling, not to mention that if you aren't a native Japanese most of the supplemental text that appears in the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.
Professor Torquil was a very nice man. He did get a little boring sometimes and there were times when I didn't see the point in learning what we were learning (maybe I lacked the passion for the things we were reading, who knows). He's very knowledgable about old Japanese culture and is very passionate about the material that he teaches, which is great. I took Japan 110A and 172 with him. Both were hard classes that I had to work hard in, but I ended up with A's in both. Classical Japanese is hard to learn in general, but it's good to know if you're seriously interested in Japanese culture. Likewise for 172; the literature gets weird sometimes but it reveals a lot about Japanese culture that, in the long run, proves to be insightful. They're not exciting, glamorous classes, which was honestly the only downer.
Winter 2017 - This class was very interesting and I'm really glad I took it. Professor Duthie is awesome and since he translates all of the readings for the class himself, you're able to really get perspective behind the actual meaning of the works. When I took the class, we had weekly assigned readings which we had to write 700-1000 word essays on. The class was a weekly three hour seminar in which we discussed the readings and each person in the class had to present on a reading once during the quarter (very casual presentation). Participation is very, very important, so you need to come to class prepared and ready to discuss the readings. The final was an 8-10 page paper on a topic of your choice. I would recommend this class for Japanese majors, minors, and other Asian humanities majors/minors. It is helpful if you have some general knowledge of Japanese history or have taken Duthie's Japan 50 course (he referenced it a lot in class).