Knox offers courses in Japanese conversation and composition through the intermediate level. Advanced courses, which may be taught in English or Japanese, focus on areas such as pre-modern and modern Japanese literature and contemporary Japanese society and culture. Additional courses in Japanese history, international relations, religion, and philosophy are offered by the History and Philosophy departments.

One thousand years ago, Japanese women writers dominated the literary world. Masterpieces of classical literature – tales, diaries and poems – were born from their brush. Then, for hundreds of years, their skill was discounted, their works overlooked and their voices silenced. The few who managed to be remembered in a world dominated by men, were the exceptions, not the rule.


Starting with the nineteenth century, however, Japanese women writers started to reclaim their grandmothers’ heritage. They took the male-dominated literary world by assault, pushing the boundaries which confined them, drawing on their literary legacy and reinventing it, resisting the label of “women’s literature” so often pejoratively attached to their works.


This course explores these figures of resistance, authors like Higuchi Ichiyō, Enchi Fumiko, Sata Ineko, Hayashi Fumiko, Ōba Minako, Setouchi Harumi or Kanehara Hitomi, and their multilayered and complex works, in relation with the changing social and political conditions which shaped women’s positions in Japanese society.