Spring 2021 - HIST 464 D100

Problems in Modern Asian History (4)

Propaganda Mod Japan

Class Number: 5586

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



Concepts and methodology of modern Asian history. Selected themes may include revolution, inequality, mass violence, ideology, imperialism, leadership, and the Cold War. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 464 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.


While this seminar focuses on Japan, students are very welcome to consider research that allows for comparison with the situation in other nations in order to develop a broader perspective on the topic. 

Japanese propaganda was said to be extremely sophisticated and effective. Recruited shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbour to assist with U.S. Army propaganda, the Oscar-winning director Frank Capra studied captured Japanese films and is said to have remarked, “We can’t beat this kind of thing. We can make films like these maybe once in a decade.”  Capra’s now famous assessment may be applied to other areas of propaganda, which was not limited to products of the mass media, such as cinema, radio, and newspapers, but also to what individuals wore and ate. At the same time, consideration should be given to the extent to which various interest groups involved in shaping public opinion became captives of their own propaganda and limited by the need to conform to state-sponsored and popularly-supported ideas.



  • Seminar Participation 1. Perusall and collaborative commenting on readings 25%:Students will use Perusall, a social annotation tool accessible through CANVAS, to pose and respond to each other’s questions and comments. 2. Presentation/Facilitation of discussion 5% Students, preferably working in pairs, will sign up to present their opinions on one of the week’s seminar readings. In order to further encourage discussion, presenter/facilitators may also select for group examination some of the comments and questions on the readings that other students have posed on Perusall. 3. Weekly group discussion 5% All members of this course are expected to attend the weekly virtual meetings via CANVAS BlackBoard, do the assigned readings for each week, and, most important, support presenter/facilitators by participating in discussion. 35%
  • Book review (3-5 double-spaced pages MAXIMUM) 15%
  • Essay Project (10 double-spaced pages MAXIMUM) 40%
  • In-class analyses (2-4 double-spaced pages MAXIMUM x 2) of wartime and post-war films 10%


Recommended:  While it is not a prerequisite for this course, it is recommended that students take the course on Japan prior to this one.




Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.  Available through SFU Library as online source (on reserve)


Accessible through CANVAS and Perusall

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).