In the early modern period (1600-1867), Japan underwent a staggering urban transformation. Edo, the shogunal capital, grew in barely a century from a new settlement to a sprawling metropolis of over a million. Indeed, most of Japan's current urban centers descend directly from the castle towns built by regional warlords in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in an effort keep the peace after over a hundred years of civil war. As a result, Japanese cities in the early modern period became a central component of what historians have called a "re-feudalization" of society, and retained strong vestiges of their military origins. At the same time the samurai-centered space of the new cities created opportunities for the development of alternative cultural practices and values by urban commoners. The juxtaposition of the regimented, honor-driven society designed and longed for by samurai and the fluid, money-driven society that grew out of the burgeoning cities' commoner quarters is one of the animating forces of the early modern period. Through study of scholarship and contemporary sources (laws and sumptuary regulations, codes of conducts, but also diaries, novels, plays), this course will explore the many facets of early modern urban society, its medieval antecedents, and its legacies in contemporary Japan.
Section 401 - LEC
TR 0300PM-0430PM