Instructor: Dr. Richard Chalfen
Office: 224 Gladfelter Hall
Telephone: 215-204-1413

Introduction. In this course we will examine versions and varieties of Japanese life and culture that have come to America. Students will gain (1) a historical perspective on Japanese immigration as well as (2) a view of contemporary life of Japanese Americans, and (3) a review of how bits and pieces of Japanese culture have become a part of American everyday life. The course will explore how Japanese culture has come to the United States, and how versions of it survive to the present. Clearly we continue to see an on-going interest and curiosity in things-Japanese in American daily life -- but what kinds of transformations, reformulations and re-inventions have taken place? How are Japanese people in the U.S. as immigrants, as tourists, as scholars and even as professional athletes?

We will introduce notions of transnationalism, postmodernism, inter-nationalism, popular culture and “global culture” What is the nature of popular stereotypes of Japanese people and culture? How is the ‘information gap’ relevant to what American and Japanese know about each other?

We will review American adoptions and adaptations of language, "Japanese" settings, art forms as well as architecture and design, foods and restaurants, clothing and fashions, popular films, television and advertising. While there is a growing literature on Japanese Americans -- much focused on the internment camp experiences -- there is much more to be examined, some in scholarly writings as well as novels and feature films. Students will review and critically evaluate such films as Come See the Paradise, Rising Sun, Gung Ho, The Mystery Train, Picture Bride, Red Sun, etc.. We will also review a series of comparisons of Japanese films and “American re-makes” such as the Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, Yojimbo and Fist Full of Dollars. Field trips will be organized to the Japanese House in Fairmount Park, the Philadelphia Museum, and to the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies.


Japanese Americans: The Evolution of a Subculture by Harry Kitano
Through Harsh Winters by Akemi Kikamura
The Japanese Through American Eyes by Sheila K. Johnson. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.
Turning Leaves - The Photograph Collections of Two Japanese American Families by Richard Chalfen, Albuquerque:                  The Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1991.
Japanese Industry in the American South by Choong Soon Kim , Routledge, 1995
Game Over: How Nintendo Captured the World by David Sheff. ~ 1994
Tokyo Life, New York Dreams -- Urban Japanese Visions of America, 1890-1924 by Mitzuko Sawada (Univ. of                  California Press) 1996
Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence in American Culture from Astronomy to Zen Buddhism by Jeff                  Yang, Dina Gan, Terry Hong (Mariner Books).


Mid-Term Examination, quizzes, short paper, and Final Term Paper
Class participation is emphasized throughout the semester.