Process Overview

The integrative exercise is the culmination of the Japanese major. Japanese comps—focusing on linguistics, literature, or film–are intended to be flexible enough to allow students to choose a topic and design a project that will suit their individual talents and sustain their interest, continue to delight, through two terms of hard work. Comps should take the student deep into a specific aspect of Japanese language and culture, and the relationship between the two.

At the same time, every comps project should develop and demonstrate the student’s competence in bibliographic research, including use of primary sources in Japanese and secondary sources in Japanese and English to establish a context for the project. It requires the student to focus on a single text, or a cluster of texts, either written or oral, in Japanese.

The students must situate this Japanese text historically and intellectually and show why it is important. The student must then demonstrate intimate familiarity with the text and offer a critical analysis of some aspect of it. This analysis must be driven by a well-formulated question or questions and make use of accepted methods of linguistic, literary, or film analysis.

One, but by no means the only, option for demonstrating intimate familiarity with a text is to translate it thoughtfully and eloquently, in a way that supports specific analysis. A few students have chosen instead to perform or illustrate their text, or to analyze it in greater detail. The accompanying paper, with a research and analytical dimension, is a requirement in all cases.

The entire comps paper, including translation if there is one, should be approximately forty pages.

After the satisfactory completion of the written comps, the student will be required to give two talks, one in Japanese for colleagues and faculty in the department and one in English for the general public. Both talks are an important part of the Japanese comps process and will be evaluated accordingly.

Throughout the process, ample guidance and support will be offered by the Japanese faculty.

The Comps Process

Each student will work with two faculty members: a First Reader and a Second Reader. Normally sh/e will do a directed reading during fall and winter terms with the First Reader, for help reading the chosen text and for research and critical guidance. The Second Reader is also available for guidance at any point during the process.

All drafts are submitted simultaneously to both readers, who will offer comments and advice. The final draft must be approved by both readers.

The Comps Proposal

A written comps proposal will be submitted to the First Reader in the fourth week of the term. The written proposal will be distributed and presented orally to Japanese faculty and senior majors in a meeting during fourth week. This will be an opportunity to gain insights from the group and to find points of common interest.

The written proposal should be of approximately 700 words. For a literary comps, it should:

  • identify the text and the author, situating them historically and intellectually and showing why this text is a good choice
  • define intimate interaction with text (translation, performance, etc.)
  • introduce briefly the text itself, through summary or description. If only part of a longer text is the focus, specify it and defend the choice
  • define a question or set of questions to be explored
  • suggest methods of inquiry to be used
  • provide a preliminary overview of the resources available for research
  • tells us why your exploration matters

Schedule of Deadlines

Fall Term

  • Week 2: Information meeting with Majors to establish procedures, deadlines, and possibilities
  • Week 4: Submission of written comps proposal to First Reader (see Comps Proposal above,)
  • Week 6: Submission of research bibliography, in MLA format to First and Second Reader
  • Week 8: Submission of written introduction and general outline to First and Second Readers

Winter Term

  • Week 6: Submission of preliminary draft to First and Second Readers, to be returned to the student with written comments
  • Week 7: Joint meeting with First and Second Readers to discuss draft
  • Week 10: Submission of revised, final draft to First and Second Readers

Spring Term

  • Weeks 3 & 4: Comps talk in Japanese
  • Weeks 4 & 5: Comps talk in English