Crossing Cultures

Contemporary Culture and Society

Modernity Studies

Originating in Western Europe, the principles of modernity have long served as the basic framework for the modern world. However, the recent wave of globalization has raised profound questions about their validity. In the Modernity Studies Program, we seek to understand where this turbulent world is headed, based on a thorough reexamination of the significance of modernity.

Modern Social Thought (Shigeru CHO)

This course considers the roles played by the concept of “society” in the development of modern societies, cultures, and philosophies.

Modern Economic Thought (Yoshihiko ICHIDA)

We will trace the history of such concepts as “market,” “value” and “labor,” and examine the changes that they are undergoing today.

Modern Political Thought (Naritoshi UENO)

An examination of modern political concepts like “freedom,” “equality” and “citizenry,” with emphasis on the fundamental factors that underlie them

Modern Culture Discourse (Keiko ISHIDA)

A consideration of the nature of modern society through discourse and concrete examples concerning beauty and the arts.

Modern Culture and Representation (Rie MATSUYA)

This course investigates modern characteristics of “nature” as depicted in literature and the visual arts.

 

Contemporary Social Issues

This program uses various perspectives to explore the pace-setting issues of our times. Issues covered include healthcare, ecology, genetic engineering, gender-specific standards, multiculturalism, the effects of information technology and consumerism on social consciousness, and the social role of sports.

Sociology of Knowledge (Takeshi MIKAMI)

A sociological exploration of the roles of various types of “knowledge” in contemporary society.

Media and Cultural Studies (Hiroki OGASAWARA)

A critical examination of the relationship between multicultural capitalism and the media.

Bioethics (Yasuji YAMAZAKI)

This course considers the ethical norms related to the concept of “life” and “death” that have become entangled in controversy due to recent advances in science and technology.

Environmental Ethics (Toru SAKURAI)

Discussion of major environmental ethics topics in light of an overview of the current state of the global ecology.

Gender Approach to Culture (Megumu MUNAKATA)

This course covers a variety of cultural phenomena related to gender in contemporary culture and analyzes problems relating to notions of gender.

Sociology of Gender (Kaoru AOYAMA)

This course examines the relationship between society and the conception of “gender” with cases from various fields.

 

Art, Culture and Society

The program focuses on the roles of art in society, and examines the historical and contemporary relevance of various art forms and media, including music, theater, visual images and text. It also looks in detail at cultural administration and art management, important vehicles for bringing art to society.

Modern Art (Hiroko IKEGAMI)

The development of modern art after World War II is discussed from historical and social factors.

Visual Culture (Noriko YOSHIDA)

The relationship between art and society is explored through analysis of paintings and other visual artwork.

Art, Culture and Society (Mie ASAKURA)

A study of the dynamism of the turn of the 20th century through linking fashion and art.

Art and Cultural Environment (Kazuo FUJINO)

This course discusses ways to build links between art and society and foster social vitality through the power of culture.

Art in Cultural Formation (Kazuko IWAMOTO)

This course explores the formation of art and culture with reference to ethnicity and nationhood, drawing upon examples from the French-speaking world.

Modernism Art (Kumi TATEOKA)

This course examines the modernist art that flourished in the early 20th century, as the expression of a new worldview.

 

研究室紹介

Modern Economic Thought – Professor Yoshihiko ICHIDA


Inequality, poverty, globalization… These are the words that characterize the contemporary way of capitalist societies, giving rise to situations which can only evoke sympathy. The number of people called the working poor, who live on an annual income of less than 2 million yen per year, has already risen above 10 million in Japan. Japan now has the world’s second-largest relative poverty rate (percentage of people with less than half of the average income). I want to reconsider what kind of society capitalism is in the first place, and this is the basic theme in my seminar. We are reading Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” in this year’s seminar, but at the same time we will also look back at the area of social thought that has perceived modernity as capitalism since the 19th century.

 

Sociology of Gender – Associate Professor Kaoru AOYAMA


I am interested in issues such as gender and sexuality, immigration, sexual labor, globalization, multiculturalism and representation. The common theme is what “goes beyond borders.” More specifically, I question the criteria of gender differences in this society and envision a society where the minorities groups of people like those who are transgender, gay/lesbian/bisexual, marriage immigrants, migrant workers and sex workers obtain “citizenship.” In such a situation there would be education and social security, immigration and labor laws, household registration and pension systems, and national/international politics and economics. These are public systems that appear to be unconnected to love and sexual desire. I hope I can convey the appeal of linking these themes well through theories/methodologies and actual surveys.

 

Modern Art – Associate Professor Yuko IKEGAMI


In my class, you will look at works of art with your own eyes and start to think about them for yourself. Even with difficult-looking contemporary art, you can see the close connection with society and investigate the production history and intention of the artist. Precisely because these representations are produced in the “here and now,” the problems that they deal with such as history, culture, gender, and the market, etc are of relevance to us who live in modern society. We aim to develop critical thinking skills in order to face the problems of modern society through considering the questions posed in these works. My specialty is post-World War II American art and the globalization of the art scene, but recently I have also been researching art exchanges between Japan and the United States since the war.

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