Graham Law, SILS, Waseda University, Fall 2022

HI413 Special Topics in Media History:
Western Images of Japan in the Nineteenth Century

**This semester, with most overseas students able to get a visa and come to Tokyo, I hope to be able to hold most class sessions face-to-face on campus at the regular class times (Tuesday & Friday period 4, starting at 2.45pm JST). However, even if only a single registered student is not in town, there will also be a Zoom link (available on Moodle) so that all members can participate live wherever they are.
     Generally, the Tuesday classes will focus on the weekly readings (with an instructor overview, group worksheet discussions, and a quiz), while the Friday sessions will focus on student group presentations offering historical context for the readings. Most course materials can be downloaded from the links below. These are also available on the course page on the Waseda Moodle system, which also carries links for all the Zoom sessions, plus the short weekly quizzes which are generally conducted prior to the Tuesday sessions.  Please note that, because of the continuing public health situation, the schedule offered below may need to be further revised. And, of course, we may have to go back entirely to online sessions if the Covid situation deteriorates.***

Course Information

(1) Course Content

Even before the Meiji restoration, there was already a growing fascination in the Western periodical press both popular and elite with the "exotic" land of Japan, newly opened to the Western gaze. Major diplomatic initiatives like the British Elgin Mission to Japan of 1857-9, or the Iwakura Mission to Europe of 1872, provided a focus for press interest. Yet everyday topics such as costume, housing, and cuisine were just as likely to catch the eye. Both traditional culture and the process of rapid modernization gained their share of attention. The attitudes expressed were often complex and contradictory, revealing the uncertainties of placing Japan within the cultural hierarchies then dominant in Western thought.The course will thus focus on issues in media history, especially on pictorial and verbal representations of Japan found in the Western press in the later nineteenth century, with examples taken from both Britain the United States. The images will be discussed in particular in terms of their relationship to Social Darwinian theories current in the later nineteenth century and to Edward W. Said's modern concept of "Orientalism".

(2) Course Materials
Materials studied will include facsimiles of articles/illustrations from the following nineteenth-century periodicals:
The Illustrated London News; Harper's Weekly; Harper's New Monthly Magazine; The Times; The Fortnightly Review; Blackwood's Magazine; The Atlantic Monthly. Copies will be provided in the from of PDF files to be downloaded from this page.

(3) Course Methods
This class will be conducted entirely in English. After a few introductory sessions on general ideas, much of the time will be devoted to the analysis and discussion of primary materials. Since this is the era of the rise of pictorial journalism, we will be attending to images as well as texts, and the interesting interaction between the two. Although copies of key source materials will be provided, students are also expected to consult materials (including both original bound volumes and microfilm copies) in the Library.
Of the two sessions taking place each week, the first will generally be lead by the professor, and the second by teams of student presenters. Student presentations will begin in Week 3.

(4) Detailed Syllabus





Week 1a

Orientation (Contents, Materials, Methods): Sources & Overview of East-West Communications


Week 2

A. Social Darwinism: Extracts from Three Seminal Texts: Spencer, Huxley, Pearson

B. Orientalism: 'Ch 1-1: Knowing the Oriental', Edward W. Said, Orientalism, 1978

CM0aSocial Darwinism


Week 3

Reading 1a. Unsigned. 'Our Phantom Ship: Japan' Household Words, 1851.

Reading 1b. Unsigned. 'What do we know about Japan?' Bentley's Miscellany, 1852.


ModPres (GL)

Week 4

Reading 2. Articles on the American Expedition to Japan, Times, 1852-4.


Student Pres1

Week 5

Reading 3. 'Our Japanese Visitors', Harper's Weekly,1860.
   {Complete issues for May 26 and June 2 HERE}


Student Pres2

Week 1b
***Individual Consulation Only***

Week 6

Reading 4. Laurence Oliphant, 'Political Tragedies in Japan', Blackwood's Magazine, 1862.


Student Pres3

Week 7

Reading 5. Letters on Christian Missions in Japan, Times, 1873


Student Pres4

Week 8

Reading 6. A.H. Guernsey, 'The Mikado's Empire', Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1876. 


Student Pres5

Week 9

Reading 7. Japanese Customs in Pictures: Graphic, 1877-8 & 'A Night with Japanese Firemen', Temple Bar, 1892.


Student Pres6

Week 10

Reading 8a. Daigoro Goh, 'A Japanese View of New Japan', Nineteenth Century 1891.

Reading 8b. Tokiwo Yokoi, 'New Japan & her Constituional Outlook', Contemporary Review 1898.


Student Pres7

Week 11

Reading 9a. Basil Hall Chamberlain, 'On the Manners and Customs of the Loochooans', Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan 1893.

Reading 9b. Basil Hall Chamberlain, 'Reply to Mr. Batchelor on the Words "Kamui" and "Aino"', Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan 1889.


Student Pres8

Week 12

Reading 10. Lafcadio Hearn 'The Genius of Japanese Civilization' Atlantic Monthly, 1895.


Student Pres9

Week 13

Reading 11. Maurice Eden Paul, 'Social Evolution in Japan', Cornhill Magazine, 1898.


Student Pres10

Week 14

Reading 12. Three Editorials on Progress in Japan, Times, 1896, 1899, 1901.


Student Pres11

Week 15

(5) Further Reading
Asa Briggs & Peter Burke, A Social History of the Media: From Gutenburg to the Internet, Polity Press, 2005
Jane Chapman, Comparative Media History, Polity Press, 2005
Peter Dickens,
Social Darwinism, Open University Press, 2000
Mike Hawkins,
Social Darwinism in European and American Thought, 1860-1945, CUP, 1997
Edward W. Said,
Orientalism, RKP, 1978
John Plunkett,
A Media Monarch, Oxford University Press, 2003
Phil Hammond, ed.,
Cultural Difference, Media Memories, Cassell, 1997
Hugh Cortazzi and Terry Bennett,
Japan, Caught in Time, Tuttle, 1995
Terry Bennett,
Early Japanese Images, Tuttle, 1996
William Elliot Griffis,
The Mikado's Empire, Harper & Brothers, 1876
Leonard de Vries,
History as Hot News, 1865-1897, John Murray, 1973
T. Yokoyama,
Japan in the Victorian Mind, 1850-80, Macmillan, 1987

(6) Requirements
Participants are required to:

1 attend the course regularly and contribute actively to discussions;

2 prepare for the class by means of reading assignments (weekly reading quiz given);
3 to give ONE presentation in English in a group with seminar members; PRESENTATION SCHEDULE available HERE.

4 to write ONE report in English of around 2000 words; WRITING ASSIGNMENT details available HERE.
Assessment will be based on all of the above. There will be no formal examinations.

**Presentation Directions**

1. The main purpose of the presentations is to provide a historical CONTEXT for the TEXTS read and studied in the previous class, thus helping class members to understand them more deeply. This context can concern political, social and media history etc, and need not focus narrowly on things Japanese.
2. Each presentation should last around 15-20 minutes, leaving enough time for questions, comments and discussion afterwards.
3. You should divide up the work of the presentation so that each presenter in the team has a roughly equal role.
4. The key points made in each presentations should be indicated in a handout or other visual aid (e.g. a Powerpoint file) to help other members of the class to understand and respond.
5. Presenters should always indicate the main sources of the information / ideas they make use of.
6. Please communicate with the prof. in advance if you are unsure about any of these directions.

(7) Contact

Office No:
Office Hours: Wed 3 & Thur 3
Office Tel:

Copyright (c) Graham Law, 2005-22. All rights reserved.
First drafted Wed 23 Mar 2005.

Last revised Wed 20 Jul 2022.

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