Drawing on the rich collections of Harvard’s libraries and museums, this course is part of a larger series on the history of books, where learners explore the book not merely as a container of content, but as significant physical objects that have shaped the way we understand the world around us. This course mainly focuses on works to be studied that represent the most prevalent formats of Japanese books.
About this course
Module 1: Books, Scrolls, and Religious Devotion
This unit offers special access to a unique group of books and scrolls and sacred objects once interred inside a thirteenth-century Buddhist sculpture of Prince Shotoku, now in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums. The works to be studied represent the most prevalent formats of Japanese books, but they display striking material idiosyncrasies that will help us understand how and why manuscripts were made, and how they could be personalized for individual readers, motivated, in this case, by religious devotion.
Module 2: Visual and Textual Storytelling: Short-Story Scrolls
Enter into the story worlds of two lively illustrated Japanese tales, The Tale of the Rat (Nezumi sôshi) and The Chrysanthemum Spirit (Kiku no sei Monogatari) in the Harvard Art Museums. Both tales are illustrated in the small scroll? ( ko-e ) format, roughly half the size of standard scrolls, resembling medieval paperbacks and intended for personal reading and private libraries. This unit focuses on the reading experience, exploring the interrelationship between word and image, and explaining how literary and pictorial conventions work together to communicate a story.
Module 3: Multimedia? Books: The Tale of Genji
Japan’s most celebrated work of fiction, The Tale of Genji, has been continuously read from the time it appeared in the eleventh century to the present day and provides a perfect case study for exploring various book formats over the centuries in Japan. Using decorated manuscripts, richly illustrated albums, and a playful printed book of a Genji spin-off, A Fraudulent Murasaki’s Rustic Genji (Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji), this unit showcases the spectacular visual and material properties of Genji volumes that make them suggestive of multimedia? books.
What you will learn from Japanese Books: From Manuscript to Print?
- How to examine Japanese books and scrolls
- Different types of bindings, scroll formats, printing techniques, and basic terminology
- Different approaches to visual and textual storytelling
- Short stories and epic tales plots, characters, and illustrative devices
- How to analyze and appreciate illustrated narratives
1. Welcome to the Course
2. Module 1: Books, Scrolls, and Religious Devotion
3. Module 2: Visual and Textual Storytelling: Short-Story Scrolls
4. Module 3: “Multimedia” Books: The Tale of Genji
Note: Your review matters
If you have already done this course, kindly drop your review in our reviews section. It would help others to get useful information and better insight into the course offered.
- Harvard University
- Online Course
- 1-3 Months
- Free Course (Affordable Certificate)
- Ancient languages Books and Manuscripts Culture History Japanese history