Who (or what) where the samurai? What does it mean to say that Japan had an "Age of the Samurai"? In popular imagination, pre-modern Japan has long been associated with its hereditary warrior class. Countless movies have explored the character and martial prowess of these men. Yet warriors constituted but a tiny portion of the societies they inhabited and ruled, and historians researching medieval Japan have turned their attentions to a great range of subjects and to other classes (elite and commoner alike). This class is designed to acquaint students with the complex and diverse centuries that have been called the "Age of the Samurai"-roughly, the years between ca. 1110 and 1850. In the course of the semester, we will explore the central themes in the historiography of warrior society, while introducing some of the defining texts that have shaped our imagination of this age (from laws to epic poems, from codes of conduct to autobiographies).
Section 401 - LEC
MW 0330PM-0500PM