The goal of the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department is to introduce students to the region’s changing identity while emphasizing the attainment of language proficiency as well as knowledge of East Asian culture, literature, film, and linguistics.
About the Major
The growth of the Pacific Rim as an economic and technological giant has spurred interest in the region’s cultures as well as its languages. Japanese has become one of the most widely taught languages in the U.S. and has assumed critical importance in a range of professions, from politics and diplomacy to business, education, and technology. The study of Japanese at Hamilton provides rigorous, intensive training in reading, writing, and speaking the language, with upper-level courses conducted entirely in Japanese. In addition, many students choose to study abroad.
A Sampling of Courses
Introduction to Japanese Film
This course traces the history of one of the world’s most innovative film industries. Since the early 20th century, Japanese filmmakers have experimented with and improved upon cinema. Their work has been influential not only in Japan but throughout the world. From the drama of early silent movies to anime, we will cover some of the "greatest hits" of Japanese film, whether widely popular or critically acclaimed. This exploration of cinema in Japan will offer both a new perspective on cinema itself as well as an opportunity to view the genre’s development in a specific cultural context.
Explore these select courses:
Introduction to basic structures and vocabulary. Emphasis on oral communication with practice in reading and writing, using the two syllabaries (hiragana and katakana) and 28 kanji characters. Four 50-minute classes a week (Monday-Thursday).
The Edo Period (1603-1868) was a time of stability in Japan. The urban centers of Japan thrived, and people had greater access to wealth and education. There was an explosion of popular literature and performances, many of which influence today’s pop culture. We will read representative works from the Edo period, including ghost stories, puppet and kabuki plays, haiku, and comic fiction. The course will be primarily discussion-based. Writing assignments will include a creative writing option. The course has no prerequisites and does not require Japanese knowledge.
This course explores issues of imperialism, military conflict, pacifism, nuclear victimhood, foreign occupation, national identity, and social responsibility in 19th to 21st-century Japan. Materials include nonfiction, science fiction, poetry, war propaganda, novels, censorship documents, animé, and film.
Examines Chinese, Japanese and Korean as well as other languages found in East Asia. Topics include the syntactic (possible word order, inflections, particles, and combinations of all of them) and phonological structures (phoneme, pitch vs. tone, sound patterns) of these languages; the relationships of the languages to each other; differences and similarities of these languages from the universal point of view; the geographical, social and historical settings. No knowledge of any Asian language necessary.
Focusing on Japan as a point of reference, this course will consider how the notion of "place" gets constructed through human emotions as something more than just a set of geographical coordinates. Examining a range of literary works and films, we will study how "Japan" has been imagined, constructed, and remembered in the 20th century through storytelling. Topics to be covered include Japan’s imperialism in Asia, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Vietnam War, minorities in Japan, and anime. Taught in English. No prior knowledge of Japan is required. Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors only.
Kyoko Omori, associate professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures (Japanese), delivered a talk titled “The Audacity of Radio: Democracy, Censorship, and the Political Satire of Miki Toriro in Occupied Japan” at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Riki Borders ’23 spent his earliest years in Misawa, Japan, then just before middle school moved to the U.S. with his family. Later recruited by Hamilton to play football, Borders found that the College open curriculum allowed him to major in both computer science and Japanese studies.
Careers After Hamilton
Hamilton graduates who concentrated in Japanese are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:
Patent Examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Youth Coordinator, Mattahunt Wheelock Community Center
Business Development Associate, Coleman Research Group