College Classes on Anime/Manga: Fall 2017

The Fall 2017 semester is well under way now – and this means that it’s time for another round-up of classes on anime/manga that colleges/universities around the U.S. are offering this term. As with the prior similar updates, it is meant to be illustrative, not comprehensive – for that matter, I don’t think there is a way to compile a comprehensive list of this kind. Nonetheless, the College Classes on Anime/Manga page in the Resources section of this site is cumulative, and the Fall 2017 classes that I was able to locate have been added to it. In fact, as the total number of classes listed there grows, I hope that it may be possible to start identifying certain trends or patterns in the kinds of colleges/universities that are offering classes on anime/manga, and the ways these classes are described in course catalogs and on department websites.

Of course, plenty of other courses, in different departments and disciplines, do include some discussion of Japanese comics or Japanese animation. Just some examples can be seen in the descriptions of the Comparative Comics class offered in the University of Oregon’s Comics and Cartoon Studies program, where, by “examining comics and comics criticism from South America, Japan, France, Italy, and more, we will explore the depth of the comics form as it grows and changes in different social, political, and cultural climates”, and Modern Japan: From Samurai to Anime, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey – “We will examine the ‘opening’ of Japan following centuries of self-imposed isolation, its rise to power and defeat in World War II, and its subsequent transformation into an economic and pop culture powerhouse, as well as more recent events such as the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.” But tracking down every single one of those would be a hopeless – and simply overwhelming – task. So, as with the previous versions of this list, its focus is on classes that deal with anime/manga exclusively.

DePauw University
First-Year Seminar: Anime! Japanese Culture Exposed
Instructor: Prof. Pauline Ota

“This course will introduce students to Japan and Japanese culture through the lens of the popular media form, anime (animated film). Besides anime viewings and seminar-style class meetings, the course will also include demonstrations, events, and possibly a field trip or two. Students will learn to visually analyze anime, situate anime within a specific historical moment, identify artistic/literary/religious/linguistic traditions referenced in anime, and consider anime critically using methodological approaches gleaned from key readings. This class, therefore, will foster students’ ability to articulate analysis of the animated art form both verbally and in writing.”

Guilford College
First Year Seminar: Anime, Japanese Culture and Globalization
Instructor: Prof. Hiroko Hirakawa

“This interdisciplinary course looks at Japanese culture and society through the lens of anime (Japanese animated films). We will primarily examine works by Studio Ghibli from multiple perspectives, considering how history, gender, race/ethnicity, spirituality, nature/environment and nationhood, among others, are imagined and contested in the context of accelerated globalization. We will also ask how and why anime (and other Japanese popular cultural products) are crossing national boundaries into American society.”

Hiram College
History of Manga and Anime
Instructor: Prof. Merose Hwang

“This class will survey Japanese manga (comics) and anime (animation) from their
beginnings in the middle of the 20th century to the present. Although manga and anime are enjoyed by an international audience, this course will explore them as a Japanese medium and critically examine how they have reflected Japanese social history. Students will be encouraged to contribute a favorite manga or anime to the common reading list. Among the highlighted themes will be gender and sexuality, spirituality, environment, and the future. This course will take students through a structured process to help them develop strong oral and written communication skills for them to succeed in college. Students will be required to complete and be prepared to thoughtfully discuss all course readings, to participate in curricular and co-curricular activities at the college, to give at least one oral presentation, and to write two three-to-five page essays and one five-page essay with research.”

Northern Arizona University
First Year Seminar: Self-Exploration Through Anime
Instructor: Mary Adachi

“Do you identify with a certain Anime character? Have you ever thought about WHY you have this connection with a particular figure in Anime, Manga or modern Japanese literature? This Seminar discusses various social and environmental issues that influence the authors of important Japanese works. Students will have the opportunity to…

– Explore the cultural background of Anime
– Learn critical thinking and oral communication skills while developing your own “Digital story-telling” project
– Enroll in a Japanese culture and language class, which is taught by your instructor, in Japan for a 4-week summer session (after completing this course)!”

Oberlin College
Girls’ Manga and Beyond

“This course introduces major issues concerning gender and sexuality through a survey of girls’ manga, or comics (also known as shōjo manga), in Japan. What is the significance of manga “for girls” in terms of content, producers, and readers? How does manga resist or reproduce gender/sexual norms? We will trace the beginnings of Japanese girls’ culture in the early 20th century, read canonical manga from the 1970’s, and examine more recent manga, anime, and live-action works to consider how aesthetics and tropes have shaped Japanese popular culture more broadly.”

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Japanese 75 – Anime
Instructor: Prof. Michael Emmerich

“Discussion and analysis of seminal works of Japanese animation, or anime, created from 1980s to present. Engagement with works in variety of styles, and that deal with broad range of themes. Reading and discussion of recent scholarship on anime produced by scholars working in diverse modes, from philosophical to anthropological.”

[Ed. note: A discussion of this class as offered in the Spring 2017 term is available on Reddit.]

University of Michigan

First-Year Japanese Through Anime/Manga

ASIANLAN 123 is the first half of the first-year Japanese course taught through various types of media, mainly anime and manga. It is designed for students who have some previous knowledge of Japanese (hiragana/katakana recognition), but less than the equivalent of one year’s study of Japanese at the University of Michigan. The course will incorporate at length various media forms into class activities to improve students’ language skills, as well as to help students have fun. This approach will increase familiarity with aspects of both traditional and modern Japanese culture that are necessary for language competency. This course also encourages students to become autonomous language learners by providing online tools for self-learning (e.g. vocabulary practice games) and personalized tasks that students may design on their own (e.g. drawing original manga).

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

Develop a repertoire of vocabulary and basic sentence patterns that will allow them to speak about themselves and topics of personal relevance solely in Japanese.

Develop basic pragmatic and socio-cultural skills to gain basic understanding of the manga /anime / movie that they like.

Master the hiragana and katakana writing systems and 90 kanji (Chinese characters)

Use written symbols to read parts of manga and prepared texts, and to write about themselves and topics of personal relevance.”

Are you currently taking a class on anime/manga? Or teaching one? Or, for that matter, want to share your thoughts and experiences – as a student or teacher? If you do, by all means, let me know!

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