Deborah Shamoon is Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame in the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. She specializes in Japanese literature and popular culture, including television, film, anime and comics.
Japanese popular culture has arrived on American college campuses as never before. Student interest in Japanese manga (comic books), anime (animated films and television shows), and video games drives much of the enrollment in Japanese courses and Japanese majors and minors. In response to student interest, as well as the establishment of popular culture as a topic of serious academic scholarship, the demand for courses on Japanese popular culture has never been higher. Yet the number of scholars specializing in the study of popular culture is still relatively small. This can potentially create problems, as faculty teach outside their expertise, and perhaps face an uncomfortable situation in which the students know more about the topic than the professor. In this article, I will offer some suggestions and advice for faculty creating a popular culture course for the first time, based on my experiences teaching undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame. The course I developed reflects my background in Japanese literature and film, and is but one example of many possible approaches to the topic. The sample syllabus and list of resources at the end of this article provide citations for all text and media sources mentioned.