Approaches to Teaching Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji

  • Editor: Edward Kamens
  • Pages: xiii & 186 pp.
  • Published: 1993
  • ISBN: 9780873527170 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9780873527187 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji Cover

“One can only applaud the appearance of this handy teachers’ manual devoted to the 11th-century Japanese classic. . . .  Specialists and nonspecialists alike will find this book invaluable in designing strategies for teaching the Genji.

Modern Language Journal

Arguably the most important work of premodern Japanese literature, Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji is a fictional narrative of courtly life in ancient Japan. This thousand-year-old text is now being taught with increasing frequency in college courses and seminars on comparative literature, women’s studies, world literature, Asian studies, and medieval studies. Approaches to Teaching Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji brings together seventeen essays on teaching the work, primarily in translation, in different settings.

Like other books in the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, this one is divided into two parts. The first part, “Materials,” discusses the texts, translations, reference works, critical studies, and other materials most commonly used and recommended by teachers of Genji. In the second part, “Approaches,” experienced teachers describe methods of presentation that they have found effective for enlivening classroom discussion and enhancing students’ appreciation of the text. Their essays outline the challenges posed by The Tale of Genji and its translations; suggest ways to incorporate it in courses in other disciplines, such as religion or art; evaluate problems of interpretation and cultural difference; and provide examples of teaching the text alongside other works of literature.