First, identify a Japanese popular culture topic that interests you. It can be within a category covered in class (television, film, music, anime, manga, sports, fashion, or food) or another category of Japanese popular culture.
Second, start thinking about how to respond to this prompt:
In his lecture (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. posted on YouTube on 9 Nov. 2015, William Tsutsui says, “Now, seeing all these themes and the riotous profusion of popular culture they have enlivened, it’s hard not to wonder, ‘What forces in Japan, what forces in Japanese history, what forces in the contemporary Japanese experience have stimulated the broad diversity and sparked the imaginative energy of Japan’s pop universe?” (40:04 – 40:32). He offers three alternative interpretations of the global success of Japanese popular culture:
Culture/tradition: Japanese popular culture is a continuation of and expansion of traditional practices and cultural forms of expression.
Traumas from World War II: Japanese popular culture is an expression of the traumas of the Japanese experience of World War II (atomic bombing, defeat, and U.S. domination).
Unresolved tensions: Contemporary Japanese society is so repressive, so uniquely intense, that popular culture expresses the anxieties generated by rapid industrialization and by modernization.
Which of these alternative interpretations (or combination of interpretations) provides the best explanation for the success of your chosen phenomenon, and why?
In a formal, argumentative research paper of 1250 to 1500 words, not counting the Works Cited page (use the word count tool in Microsoft Word), develop a thesis (main argument) that uses your chosen topic to make an argument in response to the prompt; i.e., use what you know about your topic as evidence to support your argument regarding which of the explanations for the global success of Japanese popular culture summarized by Tsutsui best applies to your topic. The rest of the paper will comprise your attempts to convince your reader of the veracity of your thesis, supported by your research.
Assume that your audience is a smart, educated person who has read, but is not an expert on, popular culture theory, so you need not provide extensive summary of articles we have read for this course. As you write, it might help to think of a smart friend of yours as your audience. As a formal piece of university writing, your research paper should be typed and double-spaced throughout, using Times New Roman font in 12-point size, and with margins of one inch all the way around each page. Provide an MLA-style header and essay title as explained in #20 and #22 in “Tips for Better Prose” at
Using MLA formatting, you will append a Works Cited list. Use a page break to make sure it starts on a new page. Remember that only works you actually cite go on this page. Also, remember that you must provide, in addition to complete publication information, the details regarding where you found the sources if you retrieved them electronically. For guidance regarding assembling a Works Cited list and formatting in-text citations, see the Campus Library’s guide at http://guides.lib.uw.edu/c.php?g=345645&p=2329363. Remember that you need to cite at least four sources, at least two of which must be from peer-reviewed, scholarly sources.
After your paper is carefully written, it will be time for editing and proofreading. Because all teachers have their own idiosyncratic preferences for writing, you should learn what mine are by reading “Tips for Better Prose (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..” Reading this document is a required part of the assignment. When I return your paper to you, I will indicate common errors that I find in your paper that tend to distract your readers. I will use a list of codes such as “T1,” “T2,” and so forth, which refer to the numbered items of the “Tips for Better Prose” document. Of course, it would be better for you and for me if you pay close attention to the document so you can avoid some of the mechanical errors that I commonly find in student (and even professional) writing, rather than have them pointed out to you afterward. I recommend printing that document, and, after you finish writing your paper, check the items off one by one to make sure your paper is as mechanically sound as you can make it. Although the mechanics of writing are less important to me than the ideas expressed, the mechanics inevitably improve the effectiveness of your communication of ideas, which, after all, is your ultimate goal with each piece of writing that you do.
When you think you have a completed draft, do a final word count (in the Tools pull-down menu of Microsoft Word) to make sure your paper meets the length requirement. Do not put the word count in your paper, though; I can check that myself.