Course of American Cultures

Seminar Introduction

Clarifying the relationship between language and society

There are two approaches to the study of language: the approach to human nature and the approach to culture and custom. In this seminar, we will study the latter approach.
To give an example, the pronunciation of the English expression “fourth floor” differs depending on the social and economic status of the speaker.
People of higher social and economic status tend to pronounce the [r] more clearly. We will study the changes in language use that occur due to differences in age, gender, ethnic background, and occupation.

GYODA ISAMU (Professor)
Linguistics for solving riddles: Language sciences

We will scientifically clarify the various “mysteries” of the “language” that we use everyday.
In addition to comparing and contrasting Japanese and English using movies and other media, we will also consider the differences and misunderstandings between men and women from the perspective of language use, compare and contrast effective methods of learning foreign languages based on the latest research findings in brain science, and consider various phenomena related to language.

JOHNSON, Gregory S. (Professor)
Children in History and Culture

This course compares and examines the past and present of childhood through analysis of education, play, family, age, development, and gender. The common denominator among adults around the world is that we have all experienced childhood. However, even if there are commonalities, what we learned as children differs from culture to culture and era to era. We will explore how we define the nature and role of childhood in film and literature, and conversely, what that definition reflects about society.

SATO MADOKA (Professor)
Racial and Ethnic Issues in the United States and the World

In today’s world, conflicts and disputes over “race” and “ethnicity” are still continuing in many places. In this class, we will examine why “race” and “ethnicity” remain so crucial and contentious, and what the concepts of “race” and “ethnicity” are in the first place, by looking at and comparing “race” and “ethnicity” issues not only in the U.S. but also in other parts of the world.

KAORI TAKADA (Professor)
Let’s look at the world from the perspectives of Japan and the United States.

It can be said that the central axis of the world in the 20th and 21st centuries has shifted from Europe to the United States. Many of the international frameworks of our time have been formed around the United States during World War II.
By unraveling the history of the United States in the 20th century, we will gain a perspective on the world from Japan and the United States, and deepen our understanding of the relations between Japan and the United States.

Social Realism in Modern American Cinema

One of the characteristics of American culture is that the barriers between art and entertainment are low.
Serious social issues, criticism of one’s own country, and other “painful” themes can be dealt with as entertainment, and can also be done as business.
How did this characteristic work in favor of the global penetration of American culture? Also, what kind of ideas that Americans have been familiar with for a long time lie at the root of this? We will examine a variety of contemporary American films, with a focus on socially entertaining works, and also look at the present and future of Japan.