LIFE COURSE S11, April 30 - June 11, 2018
FLOATING WORLD CULTURE
An introduction to life in Edo Period Japan through “ukiyo-e”
the Art of the Floating World
Moderator: Carol Dorman
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Week 1: Introduction to the Edo Period and the “Floating World”
The Edo Period and the concept of “floating world” will be introduced. We will look briefly at the history of Japan, up to the Edo Period and then at what made the Edo Period special.
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Week 2: Sex in the City
Prostitution was legal and certain homosexual liaisons acceptable in the Edo Period. Each city had its licensed pleasure quarter, or brothel area, and the Yoshiwara of Edo was the most famous.
A specific etiquette and set of rituals developed within the Yoshiwara and the most beautiful and accomplished inhabitants became the era's greatest female celebrities.
We will look at attitudes toward sex and sexuality, the culture of the Yoshiwara, the depiction of the lives of the famous courtesans (prostitutes), as well as the reality of that life.
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Week 3: The Theatre
Kabuki Theatre, which remains popular in Japan today, evolved during the 17th century. By 1700 it was the most popular public entertainment in Edo. Kabuki actors were celebrities, the equivalent of today's Hollywood stars. A great deal of the art of the floating world was devoted to actor portraits and scenes from Kabuki plays.
We will look at the development of Kabuki, its social impact, scandals, and what life was like for the actors.
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Week 4: Censorship
The Edo Period's Tokugawa government exerted a tight control over many aspects of everyday life, including movement, dress, and the possession and consumption of luxuries. The content of ukiyo-e art was subject to censorship, and at times even the method of production was limited by government edicts.
We will look at the effects of censorship and government controls on everyday life and its impact on artistic expression.
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Week 5: Other Popular Pastimes
With economic prosperity came leisure time. There were poetry clubs, dramatic societies, literary circles, art classes ... many ways for the population to indulge their creativity.
In addition there were numerous festivals to partake in and temples to visit. Pilgrimages became popular and the travel industry flourished.
We will look at popular pastimes during the Edo period and how they were reflected in, and how they made use of art.
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Week 6: Viewing of the movie Chūshingura