From the syllabus:
This is a seminar course for honors students completing their honors thesis requirement. This seminar explores the unique culture of the samurai warrior class from its ancient origins to its transformation under the Tokugawa regime and its demise in modern times. To the West, the enigma of Japan emerges from the samurai honor code that combines seemingly incompatible practices like Zen training and ritual suicide. How could a warrior class exist through centuries of peace by practicing, philosophically, the Way of the Sword? In addition to aspects of samurai warfare and the philosophy of death, we will also study the samurai way of love. Among the primary and secondary material will be samurai legends and tales, the theater of war, and eight samurai films.