Choose any one of the questions
below and write a 5-7 page paper, double-spaced. Full citations and bibliography
in accordance with the MLA Style Sheet. Answers should be in essay format,
typewritten, double-spaced, 5-7 pages, with proper references (footnotes,
etc.). Papers should be theoretically provocative, but methodologically
and conceptually coherent. Do not allow plot summaries to dominate, but
be sure that the paper is intelligible to any educated native speaker of
English, whether or not they have read the texts in question. Do not hand
in summaries or paraphrases of my lectures. References to lectures, properly
contextualized and responsibly cited are permissible to support a point,
but it would be better to find the primary or critical
texts I was discussing and engage with them. I will help you find the
These questions require
research – both ordinary and Internet. Internet
research is to be documented and any online sources are to be cited
in accordance with MLA guidelines.
1. 1. Do a comparative/contrastive analysis of how „history“ is figured
in Murakami Haruki’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and either of the
two major Oe Kenzaburo texts we have read. This question requires rigorous,
documented research into the history of the Japanese campaign in Manchuria,
and in particular the battle of Nomonhan. The Internet will be extremely
helpful in this project.
2. Do analysis of the relation between sexuality and politics in Oshima
Nagisa’s In the Realm of the Senses, and at least one other film. The second
film need not be one we have watched as a class, but it should be Japanese.
I would recommend any one of the following: Oshima’s *Merry Christmas,
Mr. Lawrence; Oshima’s Cruel Story of Youth; Imamura Shohei’s The Pornographers;
or Imamura’s Insect Woman.
3. Even generally speaking, „identity“ and „subjectivity“ are two completely
different concepts and should not be conflated. Do a reading of how these
concepts are distinguished and their relations negotiated in Abe Kobo’s
The Box Man . Be sure to preface your reading with clear, detailed
definitions of each of those two terms, highlighting their differences.
4. Develop a definition and analysis of the ethical imperative operative
within the narrative of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. .
5. Do a comparative/contrastive analysis of the relation between individual
subject and contemporary history in Oe Kenzaburo’s Hiroshima Notes
and Norma Field’s In the Realm of a Dying Emperor.
6. Do a comparative/contrastive analysis of the politics of individual
survival as they are dramatized in the protagonist’s choices in two films
we have seen this quarter: Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain and
Kitano Takeshi’s Sonatine.
7. One of the catch-phrases in discussions of „the
postmodern“ is „undecidability.“ Research this term and write a critically
sound synopsis of your findings. Use this as a basis for a reading of the
function of „undecidability“ in The Box Man .
8. Several characters in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle tell the
narrator her or his life-story. Choose at least one of those stories and
read it in terms of its function in the larger structure of the novel as
9. If The Box Man is an exercise in ontological
„undecidability“ perhaps The Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-up
Bird Chronicle are exercises in epistomological „undecidability“. Explore
this premise with a comparative reading of The Box Man and either one of
the two Murakami texts.
could be added to any of the questions above.] Keep in mind one of the
trajectories I revealed in my lecture on Karatani
the various meanings of the verb „to
Another hint: Take semiotics
seriously and/or to heart. Try answering this question: At any given
moment its cry can be heard in the novel, what does the wind-up bird signify?
What does it signify in a very late appearance [in the novel’s arrangement
but not chronology] – in the scene in which a young witnesses the activities
of two men beneath a tree in his family’s garden? Before answering the
question – or even instead of answering the question, be sure you
can come to understand and clarify the differences among the following:
The bird signifies X.
The bird means X.
The bird symbolizes
The significance of the bird is X.
The bird’s call signifies X.
That the bird is calling means X.
The bird’s call symbolizes X.
At the beginning of the novel, the bird’s call means X to the narrator.
for the Midquarter