Fall 2015 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Gossin, Pamela
Discipline and Number
LIT 3317 Section HN1
W Time 5:30 PM - 8:15 PM
Course Title

Description of Course:

LIT 3317: Literature of Fantasy: Anime/Manga- Serious Fun

In this course we will present a selection of Japanese anime (animation), manga (graphic novels/comics), poetry and light novels, focusing on the ways they represent and adapt a wide variety of fantasy themes and conventions. For many centuries, human cultures have used visual and verbal fantasy narratives as modes of philosophical speculation and exploration, as well as popular forms of entertainment. Anime and manga represent new manifestations of this ancient quest and present interesting challenges to us as readers (interpreters) and consumers of culture as well as creative contributors to it.

The organizing theme for this class will be “Serious Fun” through which we’ll be looking at how some of the “best” anime address really vital questions for humanity, such as life/death, love/hate, war/peace, sustainable community and the natural environment, and technology. We’ll examine some films by anime auteur, Hayao Miyazaki as well as some others produced by Studio Ghibli and compare/contrast them with anime by other "up and coming" (and potentially meaningful and great) anime artists/writers. We will also read some Japanese poetry, short stories, and manga that have influenced or inspired great anime, along with fan critiques and scholarly perspectives bout animation and graphic arts from artistic, cultural and literary-critical points of view.

Some of the questions we will examine in this class include: How did anime and manga develop as art forms? What status do they have within Japanese and global cultures? How do these forms of story-telling build on traditional fantasy forms? Differ from them? How do themes of the human imagination of possible futures appear in these stories? How do these narratives display critical perspectives on humanity’s relationship to the natural world and our increasingly technological reality? What do such forms tell us about the value of human desires, hopes and dreams and possible ways to live (personally, socially, geopolitically)? How does reading / seeing stories from outside mainstream US culture affect our perceptions of their effectiveness and meaning? To what extent do our expectations about style and content limit our ability to analyse and interpret creative works from another culture? Are there “universal” (pancultural) elements of “good” art and literature that transcend such barriers? If so, what counts as “good” anime /manga and “good” fantasy and how do such qualities matter?

The course format will be primarily discussion (utilizing literary analysis and interpretation) with descriptive or informative lectures providing historical and cultural background explaining the growth and development of anime and manga in both the US and Japan. Most class periods will include some viewing of anime films and television series (some selections, some full-length features), such as: Nausicaa Of the Valley of the Wind, The Wind Rises and Princess Kaguya, Wolf Children, 5 Centimeters per Second, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Grave of the Fireflies, Millennium Actress, Ghost in the Shell (final list to be decided!)

* SPECIAL NOTES: We will likely have 1-2 special guest speakers (either live or via Skype) and a Cosplay Day and Potluck (for extra credit!)

* This course counts toward ATEC and Medical and Scientific Humanities (MaSH) *

Required Texts:

1) Electronic Reserve via UTDallas Library: Selections of readings from scholars and critics
2. Napier, Susan, Anime from Akira to Spirited Away
3) Murakami, Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World
4) Miyazaki, Hayao, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (graphic novel), vols 1 and 7
5) Miyazawa, Kenji, Night on the Galactic Railroad and Other Stories from Ihatov
And others, to be decided . . .

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

- Midterm exam (short essay and objective) plus Final visual/video project or essay = 1/3rd of grade each
- Attendance/Participation (quizzes, in-class writing/comments, online discussion) = 1/3rd grade
* Optional extra credit/enrichment opportunities: TBA

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