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Japanese Language and Literature


This article introduces a curricular initiative linking language and literature courses at a liberal arts college in the northeastern United States. In the spring 2013 and fall 2014 semesters, we concurrently taught an advanced-level Japanese language course and a literature seminar, both of which focused on ethnic “minorities” in Japan. This arrangement allowed students to utilize their linguistic and literary analytical skills and integrated their learning in both Japanese and English. By reading the same texts and discussing surrounding issues in both languages, students began to see how the cultural context of language shapes different approaches to a topic. Based on the analysis of student interviews, we identify three merits of the linked courses: (1) translanguaging as a strategy for deeper engagement in literacy and literary practices, (2) translation as a tool for developing critical literacy, and (3) the significance of the theme, “Ethnic Minorities in Japan,” for understanding Japan and beyond. We also discuss curricular implications of our course arrangement. By bringing together the approaches of literary analysis and language study, our curriculum aims at heightening students’ awareness of disciplinary differences and furthering developing their linguistic proficiency, critical literacy, and cultural fluency.





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