From the syllabus:
The Heian period (794-1185) is one of most literarily rich periods in Japanese history. Not only is it the era during which the literary masterpiece, The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari), was written by Murasaki Shikibu, but other influential works such as The Pillow Book (Makura no sōshi) by Sei Shōnagon, The Kagerō Diary (Kagerō nikki) by the Mother of Fujiwara no Michitsuna, and Kokinshū, the first of twenty-one imperial poetry anthologies, also date from this time. Moreover, the course aims to introduce students to forms of literature not ordinarily read in undergraduate courses: Chinese poetry (kanshi), setsuwa (short narrative tales), and historical tales.
The second aspect of this course will be readings in the culture and history of the Heian period as well as substantial readings in critical approaches to the texts of this period. We are interested in moving beyond a descriptive approach to the texts (though some description is always necessary) and develop different avenues for examining them. Because many scholars have begun to do this to one degree or another, we will read and discuss their approaches in an effort to find our own way to the texts.