This 3-course XSeries examines the modern history of Japan, from the 1850s to 1930s, as well as that of postwar Tokyo through the rich historical visual records.
The first course, “Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, Modernity,” considers methodologies historians use to “visualize” the past and look into some historical events such as Commodore Perry’s 1853-54 expedition to Japan and Tokyo’s 1905 Hibiya Riot. It also examines modernity, as seen in the archives of the major Japanese cosmetics company, Shiseido.
The second and third courses, Visualizing Postwar Tokyo, Parts 1 & 2, focus on the changes and developments of Tokyo after World War II, as well as the gazes exchanged in postwar Tokyo, as a place of visualities.
This XSeries gives a great overview of Japan’s transition into the modern world and the transformation of postwar Tokyo.
Courses under this program: Course 1: Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, Modernity
A MITx/HarvardX collaboration, this course explores Japan’s transition into the modern world through the historical visual record.
Course 2: Visualizing Postwar Tokyo, Part 1
Analyze the history of change and development in postwar Tokyo from different perspectives using archived photographs, films, and TV programs.
Course 3: Visualizing Postwar Tokyo, Part 2 Identify the geopolitics historically involved in the practice of “visualizing postwar Tokyo.”
Tokyo emerged out of the ruins of war to become a large city of 10 million people in only a quarter of a century. During this process of change, the capital of a military empire that once invaded East Asia experienced occupation by the U.S. armed forces, hosted the Olympic Games, and transformed into a consumer hub where young people could enjoy economic “wealth.” It is important to know that this process was recorded in countless photographs, documentary films, TV programs, and so on. We will retrieve many of these archived pictures and videos and analyze what happened in postwar Tokyo from different perspectives. In Part 1, you will look at the changes that occurred in postwar Tokyo over a quarter of a century from four different perspectives: 1) occupation and Americanism; 2) imperial gaze and royal wedding; 3) The Olympic city; and 4) economic-cultural clash in Shinjuku. This examination of urban history will provide you with the insights necessary when considering changes in other large cities in Asia, such as Seoul, Beijing, and Bangkok, at the end of the twentieth century.
UTokyo is participating in the Tokyo 2020 Support Programme.
The history of postwar Tokyo reveals an essential feature of the modern city, i.e. the city as a place of visualities. In postwar Tokyo, countless gazes fell upon others; gazes from and upon Americans and the Emperor, gazes going up skyscrapers or rushing aggressively through the cityscape, and gazes twining and wriggling among classes, genders, and ethnic groups in downtown Tokyo. In Part 2, we will focus on the geopolitics of these gazes in modern Tokyo. What kinds of gazes fell upon the war orphans, the poor, and the marginalized groups in Tokyo? How did students themselves, who represented the vast accumulation of knowledge in Tokyo, perform in front of these gazes? Moreover, how did cinema or television shows, as media for these gazes, implicate the whole city? In answering these questions, we will identify the geopolitics historically involved in the practice of “visualizing postwar Tokyo.”
This MITx course was developed in collaboration with HarvardX and is co-taught by MIT, Harvard, and Duke historians. You will examine Japanese history in a new way—through the images created by those who were there—and the skills and questions involved in reading history through images in the digital format. The introductory module considers methodologies historians use to “visualize” the past, followed by three modules that explore the themes of Westernization, in Commodore Perry’s 1853-54 expedition to Japan; social protest, in Tokyo’s 1905 Hibiya Riot; and modernity, as seen in the archives of the major Japanese cosmetics company, Shiseido.
VJxwill cover the following topics in four modules:
Module 0: Introduction: New Historical Sources for a Digital Age (Professors Dower, Gordon, Miyagawa). Digitization has dramatically altered historians' access to primary sources, making large databases of the visual record readily accessible. How is historical methodology changing in response to this seismic shift? How can scholars, students, and the general public make optimal use of these new digital resources?
Module 1: Black Ships & Samurai (Professor Dower). Commodore Matthew Perry's 1853-54 expedition to force Japan to open its doors to the outside world is an extraordinary moment to look at by examining and comparing the visual representations left to us by both the American and Japanese sides of this encounter. This module also addresses the rapid Westernization undertaken by Japan in the half century following the Perry mission.
Module 2: Social Protest in Imperial Japan: The Hibiya Riot of 1905 (Professor Gordon). The dramatic daily reports from participants in the massive "Hibiya Riot" in 1905, the first major social protest in the age of "imperial democracy" in Japan, offer a vivid and fresh perspective on the contentious domestic politics of an emerging imperial power.
Module 3: Modernity in Interwar Japan: Shiseido & Consumer Culture (Professors Dower, Gordon, Weisenfeld). Exploring the vast archives of the Shiseido cosmetics company opens a fascinating window on the emergence of consumer culture, modern roles for women, and global cosmopolitanism from the 'teens through the 1920s and even into the era of Japanese militarism and aggression in the 1930s. This module will also tap other Visualizing Cultures units on modernization and modernity.