The aims of this course are twofold: First, it will introduce students to a variety of texts in different genres from 8th- to early 19th-century Japan, including THE TALE OF GENJI; poetry collections; Buddhist tales; and urban narratives. Second, it will consider literature critically by asking questions such as, How do texts formulate and propagate a sense of national identity, and why? How do issues of gender and sexuality figure into our readings of these texts? What are the ways in which religious beliefs, ritual, and performance converge? How do we define popular culture? Is it subversive, complicit, or both? We will also examine the context within which the canon of premodern Japanese literature has been shaped and studied in both Japan and the United States.