Undergraduate Faculty / Graduate School

Japanese Language and Literature

jpn

https://www.lit.osaka-cu.ac.jp/jpn/

This course provides a space for students to broaden their knowledge and perspectives on Japanese language and literature and engage in research on a deeper level. The academic staff currently consists of five members: Mayuko Yamamoto (Ancient Literature), Naoki Kobayashi (Medieval Literature), Hiroaki Kubori (Early Modern Literature), Kumiko Okuno (Modern Literature), and Tetsuya Niwa (Japanese Linguistics).

Language and literature change with the times. Particularly, in today’s ever-changing world, the world of the classics seems to be ever more distant. Nonetheless, the fundamentals of language have remained stable, and the core of human emotions and perspectives have remained largely the same since ancient times; there are many points of commonality between then and now. This course emphasizes the importance of understanding the characteristics of a given text from the perspectives of the historical development of language and literature and the different historical phases of regions and genres, thus considering the essential aspects that transcend these boundaries.

For students to gain a sense of these essential aspects, they must focus on specifics. Students will need to start with the following kind of approach to empirical research. For literature, they must carefully and methodically investigate and consider factors such as the text, author, and historical background of a work, and in terms of the language, they must apply a similar method to individual linguistic phenomena. Students will also need a wealth of ideas and creativity to approach a given work, and the goal of the course is to enable students to engage in research that balances both of these aspects.

Within research supervision for the master’s program and thesis supervision for the doctoral program, each student will present on the topic of their research with discussion of a specific work or linguistic phenomenon, including a precise reading and annotation of the text and a study of individual usage examples. Students will also need to demonstrate an understanding of how these specific considerations are related to the wider subject of their research. Lecturers and students will engage in discussion regarding these presentations (often outside the class period), working toward writing a master’s or doctoral thesis based on these discussions. The master’s course provides modules including Advanced Studies in Japanese Literature I–IV, Advanced Studies and Seminar in Japanese Literature 1–4, Advanced Studies in Japanese Linguistics, Advanced Studies and Seminar in Japanese Linguistics, and Comprehensive Studies in Japanese Language and Literature I and II. These modules take a basic approach that is similar to supervision as discussed above, with an emphasis on presentations and discussions (as well as assignments to summarize those discussions). Naturally, these class-based courses will also provide opportunities for students to learn about fields other than their own. Thus, to deepen research in one’s field of specialization, one must also broaden and deepen one’s knowledge of the adjacent fields. Students will have the opportunity to be stimulated by experiencing how different fields can take different approaches and focus on different things.

Outside of class, students will have the opportunity to present their research at the Osaka City University Society for Japanese Language and Literature and at the biannual graduate student presentations (the former is attended by all faculty members and the latter is voluntarily held by graduate students). These will allow students to present and discuss the respective research results. There are also joint study groups held with alumni and faculty members (e.g., Nihongi Study Group and Azuma Kagami Study Group), which provide a platform for graduate students to gather and exchange varied research information and broaden the scope of their research.

The research topics of the faculty staff can be briefly summarized in the following manner. Lecturer Yamamoto specializes in Chinese poetry and waka poetry of the Heian period, studying the origins and features of expressions in works such as the Honcho Monzui and the Wakan Roeishu by examining the relationship between precedents to a work’s production and the conditions at the time of its production. Professor Kobayashi specializes in narrative literature, focusing on the Konjaku Monogatarishu, the Shasekishu, and the Sangoku Denki. He studies concepts and the generation of ideas in narrative collections and investigates the relationship between the world of Buddhism and the world of samurai in the Kamakura period, which forms the context of these narratives. Professor Kubori specializes in the history of ningyo joruri (puppet theater). In addition to research on the characteristics of joruri (narrative recitations) and Chikamatsu joruri, he is also expanding his research into exploring the activities of the Awaji Ningyoza puppet theater in the early modern period. Associate Professor, Okuno specializes in the literature of the Taisho period, including authors such as Ryunosuke Akutagawa, and studies the cultural milieu that nurtured literature in this period, especially kodanhon (books of narrative literature) and their influence as a subculture at the time. Professor Niwa specializes in modern Japanese grammar and is working to clarify and systematize grammatical phenomena such as problems relating to the usage of the grammatical particles wa and ga, connective and adverbial particles, tense and aspect, and attributive modifications.

In terms of literature, graduate students will study a range of poetry and prose from ancient times to the modern era, as well as diverse fields of grammar and semantics within the context of linguistics. Students will also have many opportunities to learn about other specialist fields through classes, the presentations mentioned above, and daily interactions.

A typical career path for graduate students on this course is to work at a university as a researcher or to become a teacher at a high school or junior high school. Of course, some undergraduate students who wish to become high school or junior high school teachers will do so directly after graduating from an undergraduate program. However, there are also many who become teachers after completing the master’s program and obtaining a professional license.

 

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Staff

Professor Tetsuya Niwa Professor Tetsuya Niwa is concerned with grammar and semantics of modern language, research on the mechanisms that have shaped the language we use in our daily lives, and how they have changed from the past to the present.
Professor Naoki Kobayashi Professor Naoki Kobayashi deals with research on medieval narratives and narrative compilations, investigating the worlds of literary works and the cultural bases that underpin them.
Professor Hiroaki Kubori Professor Hiroaki Kubori is associated with research on early modern literature with a focus on the history of ningyo joruri, studying the historical background of a work and how it was viewed by contemporary audiences.
Associate Professor Kumiko Okuno Associate Professor Kumiko Okuno is interested in research on modern literature, especially the works of Ryunosuke Akutagawa and others from the Taisho period, studying the origin of a work by examining manuscripts, earlier works, and the cultural background to its creation.
Associate Professor Mayuko Yamamoto Associate Professor Mayuko Yamamoto is interested in research on the literature of the Heian period, mainly studies of Chinese literature and waka poetry, focusing on the relationship between native Japanese expressions and those of Chinese origin and the features and origins of expressions in literary works.

Publications

Research in Japanese Literary History The Department of Japanese Language and Literature runs the Osaka City University Society of Japanese Language and Literature (established in 1954), which comprises graduates of the department. The society publishes a peer-reviewed journal Research in Japanese Literary History (first published in 1955).

Work with Academic Societies

The Osaka City University Society of Japanese Language and Literature was established in 1954. General sessions of the society include lectures and research presentations. The society also publishes a journal Research in Japanese Literary History, as mentioned above.