Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Japan Portal

A Brief Exploration of Japanese Poetry

Over the course of this module we will read and explore the work of a few major pre-modern Japanese poets in translation, putting them in their historical, cultural, and religious contexts along the way, but always focusing on the poetry itself. Group discussion is strongly encouraged. Poetry and poets covered will include that of the Manyōshū, Saigyō, Princess Shikishi, and Bashō. Time permitting, we can add to the list.
Precepted by Robert Steed and Pilar Barrera.

A Cultural History of Anime

In this module we will look at the historical development of anime, with special attention to its uses in re-imagining post-war Japanese culture and society. From Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors to mushroom-cloud explosions and kawaii aesthetic, come explore how anime shapes Japanese (and others’) perceptions of Japanese history and culture.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Beginning Japanese 1 First in the Series

Come join us as we begin to learn basic Japanese, focusing on the four areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension. Over the course of this module series we will start by learning: the characteristics of the three scripts (hiragana, katakana, and kanji); how to read and write hiragana; to be able to say and understand set phrases (social interaction-related); how to formulate a simple declarative sentence (AはBです structure); how to formulate a simple interrogative sentence; how to read orally; and vocabulary relevant to dialogues in the textbook. 一緒に日本語を勉強しましょうか! (Shall we study Japanese together?!)
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese 2 Continuing Series

Building on the material covered in Beginning Japanese 1, we will cover lessons three and part of four in the Genki textbook, including: introduction to and learning to use katakana; solidifying usage of hiragana; introduction to kanji (around 10-20); developing communication abilities beyond stative sentences, focusing on the introduction of non-stative verbs; new vocabulary; continuing the development of fluency in the four aspects of language mastery.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese 3 Continuing Series

Focusing on chapters three (depending on how far we got in Beginning Japanese 2), four, and five in the textbook, we plan to improve our understanding of particles, verb categories and conjugations, describing where things are, forming the past tense of verbs, and increasing our abilities to use and "conjugate" adjectives----which do have tense in Japanese. As always, we will also be increasing our vocabulary and kanji knowledge. This module should be especially exciting because after laying various foundations in the first two units, we now begin to be able to actually have short conversations and form everyday useful sentences.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Beginning Japanese 4 Continuing Series

Picking up from where we leave off in Beginning Japanese 3, we'll review what needs solidifying from the first two modules and advance to new material in Genki. We will focus especially upon verb, adjective, and noun tenses, as well as continuing to build vocabulary, katakana, and kanji knowledge, as well as oral skills.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese 5 Continuing Series

Continuing from where we ended in Japanese 4, we will advance our knowledge of Japanese grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, and kanji as we work our way through the Genki textbook.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese 6 Continuing Series

Continuing from where we ended in Japanese 5, we will advance our knowledge of Japanese grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, and kanji as we work our way through the Genki textbook.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese 7 Continuing Series

Continuing from where we ended in Japanese 6, we will advance our knowledge of Japanese grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, and kanji as we work our way through the Genki textbook.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese 8 Continuing Series

Continuing from where we ended in Japanese 7, we will advance our knowledge of Japanese grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, and kanji as we work our way through the Genki textbook.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese 9 Continuing Series

Continuing from where we ended in Japanese 8, we will advance our knowledge of Japanese grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, and kanji as we work our way through the Genki textbook.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Beginning Japanese Series Series

Come join us as we begin to learn basic Japanese, focusing on the four areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension. Over the course of this module series we will start by learning: the characteristics of the three scripts (hiragana, katakana, and kanji); how to read and write hiragana; to be able to say and understand set phrases (social interaction-related); how to formulate a simple declarative sentence (AはBです structure); how to formulate a simple interrogative sentence; how to read orally; and vocabulary relevant to dialogues in the textbook. 一緒に日本語を勉強しましょうか! (Shall we study Japanese together?!)
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Discovering, Understanding, and Loving Haiku

Known as the shortest form of poetry in the world, haiku overwhelm us with their beautiful imagery and evoke incredible emotions. Join preceptors Robert Steed and Pilar Barrera in this module where we’ll explore the historical, religious and cultural background of haiku, read and analyze a variety of haiku by different authors, and play with haiku as you’ll have the opportunity to write your own!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera and Robert Steed.

Expanding and Practicing Japanese Vocabulary 1

This is a supplementary module to the Japanese language course. In this vocabulary-centered module taught by preceptors Pilar Barrera and Robert Steed we will explore different vocabulary related to daily life topics such as parts of the house, food, animals, as well as the use of certain important grammar structures. Using lots of pictures, students will have the opportunity to use and practice the vocabulary while exploring important cultural elements.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera and Robert Steed.

Exploring Mushi Shi

We will watch and discuss Mushi Shi, paying special attention to aspects of Japanese religion and culture which are woven into the fabric of the story. The class will be discussion-oriented, framed by preceptor commentary. This is a beautifully designed series that rewards slow and relaxed contemplation.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Exploring Natsume’s Book of Friends

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a contemplative and heartfelt anime/manga series about a boy who inherited a book from his grandmother, allowing him to control youkai. Instead, he chooses to free them. This series sits at the intersection of fantasy and slice of life, and it touches on many aspects of Japanese folklore and culture, at the same time telling a story about connection and compassion. In this module, we will watch and discuss the first two seasons of the anime, paying particular attention to themes including: the iyashikei (healing) genre of anime, the portrayal of youkai in popular culture, and the use of concepts and imagery from Japanese literature and folklore in the series.

This module is primarily discussion based, with some contextual information provided by the preceptor. There will be a Google Doc for class discussion and your preceptor will use slides, but sparingly.
Precepted by Nancy "Anni" Foasberg.

Exploring the Themes of Miyazaki Hayao through Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away

For this class we will take the two films of the title as the primary media through which we explore some of Hayao Miyazaki's major themes appearing throughout most of his work. These include themes of regard for nature, tensions between human society and the natural world, the prominence of shōjo (young female protagonists,) and questions of identity, of friendship, and of trust. Time permitting, we can consider even more.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: Redemption

Join us for the second of two modules dedicated to exploring Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In this second module we’ll cover episodes 33-64 and the development and placement of its major themes including Truth, Science, Religion, Oppression, and Loss amongst others. Attending the next module in this series is not required, but for full enjoyment it’s definitely recommended.
Precepted by Keli Fancher.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: Sin

Join us for the first of two modules dedicated to exploring the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime series. In this first module we’ll cover episodes 1-32 and the development and placement of its major themes including Truth, Science, Religion, Oppression, and Loss amongst others. Attending the next module in this series is not required, but for full enjoyment it’s definitely recommended.
Precepted by Keli Fancher.

Gojira, Then and Now

In this module, we will discuss two films of the Godzilla franchise -- the original 1954 Gojira and 2016's Shin Godzilla. After a quick overview of the franchise -- its numerous films and eras -- we'll look at the historical events that influenced each films' creation, as well as the central themes and motifs.
Precepted by Joshua Sosa.

Japanese Classical Theater: Noh, Bunraku, Kyogen, and Kabuki

In this module we will explore the historical origins and development of these forms of Japanese theater. We will situate them in their historical, cultural, religious, and economic contexts, as well as watching substantial video clips from each to spur discussion.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Japanese Fairy Tales and Children's Literature

In this module we will talk about Japanese children’s literature and fairy tales and their connection to specific Japanese cultural aspects and values such as the acceptance of death and the imperfection of the world.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Japanese for Beginners 1 First in the Series

In this series of modules, you will get familiarized with basic Japanese vocabulary and structures. Using a communicative approach, you’ll learn basic expressions, start to learn the hiragana script, and recognize katakana and kanji in a fun and interactive way. We will also explore Japanese culture in general. いっしょに日本語を学びましょう!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Japanese for Beginners 2 Continuing Series

In this series of modules, you will get familiarized with basic Japanese vocabulary and structures. Using a communicative approach, you’ll learn basic expressions, start to learn the hiragana script, and recognize katakana and kanji in a fun and interactive way. We will also explore Japanese culture in general. いっしょに日本語を学びましょう!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Japanese for Beginners 3 Continuing Series

In this series of modules, you will get familiarized with basic Japanese vocabulary and structures. Using a communicative approach, you’ll learn basic expressions, start to learn the hiragana script, and recognize katakana and kanji in a fun and interactive way. We will also explore Japanese culture in general. いっしょに日本語を学びましょう!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Japanese for Beginners 4 Continuing Series

In this series of modules, you will get familiarized with basic Japanese vocabulary and structures. Using a communicative approach, you’ll learn basic expressions, start to learn the hiragana script, and recognize katakana and kanji in a fun and interactive way. We will also explore Japanese culture in general. いっしょに日本語を学びましょう!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Japanese for Beginners Series Series

In this series of modules, you will get familiarized with basic Japanese vocabulary and structures. Using a communicative approach, you’ll learn basic expressions, start to learn the hiragana script, and recognize katakana and kanji in a fun and interactive way. We will also explore Japanese culture in general. いっしょに日本語を学びましょう!
Precepted by Pilar Barrera.

Japanese Historical Archetypal Characters: Samurai, Ninja, Monks, Miko, Yakuza

Join us as we discover the historical origins and literary presences of these categories of people who often appear in Japanese and Japan-related narratives. We will also pay attention to the "systems" in which they participate, including economic, political, and religious, as well as aspects of culture that shape them such as codes of bushido, monastic life, shamanism, and political struggle.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

JLPT N5 Test Prep

This module is offered for those Japanese language students who wish to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level N5. We will not be learning new language skills in this module. Instead we will be reviewing and repetitively practicing the precise set of skills tested on the JLPT N5 test, as well as covering various test-taking strategies. Upon passing the test, participants will receive an official certification of language skill level from the Japanese government.
Precepted by Robert Steed.
Backup preceptor: Pilar Barrera.

Miyazaki: Recovery of Innocence

One of the principal thematic elements found in the works of Hayao Miyazaki is the restorative power of childhood. Through his works, childhood itself becomes a utopian site. It is through this emphasis that we recover its best aspects: innocence, curiosity, and wonder. In this module we will watch and discuss four of Miyazaki’s works which best represent childhood and his usage of it to facilitate recovery.
Precepted by Keli Fancher.

Miyazaki: The Beginning

Come join us as we examine Hayao Miyazaki’s early years as a director and the films which set the groundwork for his career. This module covers Miyazaki’s directorial debut film Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro through the rest of the films in the 1980s: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Precepted by Keli Fancher.

Miyazaki: The Continuation

Come join us as we consider the follow-up to Hayao Miyazaki’s breakout success of the late 90s and early 2000s. In this module we’ll cover the last three of Miyazaki’s directorial releases (Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises) as well as two feature films that he’s credited as co-screenwriter on during the same time period (Arrietty and From Up on Poppy Hill).
Precepted by Keli Fancher.

Miyazaki: The Fame

Come join us as we look at the decade which propelled Hayao Miyazaki into international fame. We’ll begin by covering talking about flying pigs (Porco Rosso) and talking cats (Whisper of the Heart, screenplay) before progressing to the two international breakout hits which really made this time period a turning point in his career: Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.
Precepted by Keli Fancher.

Nature and Shinto in Anime

Shinto, usually identified as “the indigenous religious tradition” of Japan, heavily influences the aesthetic and worldview of many anime films and series. Join us as we explore aspects of Shinto practice and how they influence and shape the films Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, as well as the idiosyncratic but popular series Mushi Shi.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

The Fantastic in East Asia

Come join us as we explore various aspects of the weird, the strange, the uncanny, the dreamlike, and the visionary in East Asian literature, religion, folktales, poetry, and popular media. Whether it is ecstatic visions in Daoist texts, shamanistic expressions in Chinese poetry, gumiho and ghosts in KDramas, or stories such as that of the Yuki Onna (Snow Woman) in Japanese folklore, we’ll explore them all (and perhaps more!) in this class.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Video Game Studies

Inviting students to share their delight in, and deepen their appreciation of, video games, we will discuss examples of the art, music, gameplay, and story from a range of influential titles. We will introduce and experiment with some of the theoretical frameworks that have been applied to video games as media objects and cultural artifacts. But mostly, we will enjoy learning more about the medium and the games we already love. Aside from links and selections shared throughout the module, Gabrielle Zevin's novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow will be the only required reading.
Precepted by Wesley Schantz.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].