a research paper of 3000 words

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Topics related to some aspect of Japanese visual culture, history, or society are ideal, but feel free to explore your interests in whatever direction you like: I only ask that your topic be related to Japan. Basically, anything about Japan.

Here are some topics (that you don’t have to choose from but to inspire you if you don’t know where to begin):

History of anime

Cultural odorlessness, Global and the local, Japanese culture outside of Japan

Japan’s experience of war and its postwar recovery

Technology, the Olympics, and popular culture

The idea of the apocalypse and modern Japan, New Religions and cults

The merging of art and politics: Chimpom; or art and memories of war and trauma (Akira, Grave of the Fireflies and Barefoot Gen)

Yakuza: history, structure, self-presentation, representation in film and pop culture, current situations

Salarymen: idealization of the salaryman, failures of the salaryman, masculinity

Day laborers and homeless men, the margins of Japanese society, self reliance

Housing and architecture, how people use urban space

Suicide in Japan: places, reasons, pressures of social life

Speed tribes! Bosozoku

Yankii, delinquency, and ‘bad’ youth in history and in pop culture representation (Akira, Salaryman Kintaro, Cromartie High School, etc)

Fashion and visual display

All of the above constitute a “What”. The next stage is to think about questions along the lines of a “How” or “Why.” For example:

In Asian and US versions of Japanese cultural products, where, when, and how does “Japan” appear? What is the representation of Japan for various audiences? What kind of ‘Japan’ do they present? How are images of Japan changed to fit new contexts? When are they left the same, and to what effect?

How is the US depicted in Japanese anime about war? What are the historical and cultural contexts of those depictions?

What is the idea of honor for yakuza and how is it represented in film? Has it changed over the postwar period? etc…

Length between 2500 and 3000 words (main body: not including bibliography, etc).

Bibliography of at least 10 sources, 7 of which must be academic sources (books, scholarly articles, etc).

You may certainly have *more* than 10 sources, provided at least 7 are academic.



Should be obvious, but, make sure your sources are well integrated into the body of your paper. If your quote from a source is more than a couple sentences long, you should bracket it from the main body of the paper, indent from both sides, and single-space the selection. Using long quotes is often padding and should be avoided. If you are quoting anything more than a couple sentences, it had better be important and you’d better be spending some time to unpack/analyze it.

Anything that is not your own words must be clearly cited and the source attributed. Paraphasing can be dangerous – make sure not to employ too many words or mirror the sentence structure or sentence order from your sources — doing so is plagiarism. If you want to take some directly – do it clearly and cite it. Otherwise, rewrite in your own words.

Your paper should have a title. Creative is fine 🙂

Overly long paragraphs (2/3 of a page and up) often reflect a lack of structure – be concise, think about when you have multiple ideas crowded into a paragraph — that is often when you should split them up.

Citation format is up to you, but be consistent with your choice of APA, MLA, Chicago styles.

University of Arizona Library’s Citation Guide. If you want help, ask your TA and check out the UA Writing Center.

Formatting is up to you, but we recommend 1.5 space or double space text and 1″-1.5″ margins. Preferred file format is Word .doc or other simple text format but NOT Apple’s Pages. If you use Pages please export it as a .doc file. It is your responsibility to makes sure your file is uncorrupted and readable in D2L.

“A” papers will do nearly all, if not all, of the following things:

  • Originality: highly innovative, linking ideas from the courses and other subjects to analyze a topic in new or creative ways
  • Writing style: readable, well-crafted sentences, balanced paragraphs with clear argumentation of a thesis or perspective, low/no use of passive voice
  • Evidence: relevant examples and sources, applied strongly and contextualized with in-text citation
  • Structure: well-thought out organization, introductory paragraph that charts the paper to come, a logical progression of points, and a clear, integrated structure leading to a concluding paragraph
  • Mechanics: proper use of punctuation, spelling, and grammar. no run on sentences or sentence fragments.
  • Formatting: detailed attention to formatting and consistent use of proper citation

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