STS.S28 Godzilla and the Bullet Train: Technology and Culture in Modern Japan

As taught in: Fall 2005

Shinkansen and cherry trees, with Mt. Fuji in the background.

A bullet train speeds past Mt. Fuji across the Japanese landscape. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Level:

Undergraduate

Instructors:

Dr. Takashi Nishiyama

Course Description

This course explores how and why Japan, a late-comer to modernization, emerged as an industrial power and the world's second-richest nation, notwithstanding its recent difficulties. We are particularly concerned with the historical development of technology in Japan especially after 1945, giving particular attention to the interplays between business, ideology, technology, and culture. We will discuss key historical phenomena that symbolize modern Japan as a technological power in the world; specific examples to be discussed in class include kamikaze aircraft, the Shinkansen high-speed bullet train, Godzilla, and anime.