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Back to Words Spun Out of Images: Visual and Literary Culture in Nineteenth Century Japan

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Words Spun Out of Images: Visual and Literary Culture in Nineteenth Century Japan by The University of Tokyo

535 ratings
171 reviews

About the Course

In their ambition to capture “real life,” Japanese painters, poets, novelists and photographers of the nineteenth century collaborated in ways seldom explored by their European contemporaries. This course offers learners the chance to encounter and appreciate behavior, moral standards and some of the material conditions surrounding Japanese artists in the nineteenth century, in order to renew our assumptions about what artistic “realism” is and what it meant. Learners will walk away with a clear understanding of how society and the individual were conceived of and represented in early modern Japan. Unlike contemporary western art forms, which acknowledge their common debt as “sister arts” but remain divided by genre and discourse, Japanese visual and literary culture tended to combine, producing literary texts inspired by visual images, and visual images which would then be inscribed with poems and prose. Noticing and being able to interpret this indivisibility of visual/literary cultures is essential in understanding the social and psychological values embedded within the beauty of Japanese art....

Top reviews

Oct 8, 2020

Very interesting where I finished the whole course 2 weeks before the due date because I really enjoyed it. I have been a Japan fanatic since middle school so this course is really my cup of tea

Nov 30, 2020

It was really fun to learn about the history of such art pieces as well as the notable people behind its creation and influence. Mr. Campbell discussed everything clearly as expected.

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26 - 50 of 171 Reviews for Words Spun Out of Images: Visual and Literary Culture in Nineteenth Century Japan

By César A M

Apr 15, 2020

An amazing and very original artistic and historical qualification I truly adored. Fantastic content and a formidable professor, all together in a marvellous course for us who love Japanese an Asian culture, mostly on their chronological aspects. I really hope to take a part in other professor Campbell's course, and also, I wish to, please, be granted with a scholarship for the final certificate, because currently I'm not working due to COVID-19 pandemia all around the world.

Once again, to Dr. Campbell and to all the team and colleagues who made It possible: DOMO ARIGATO GOZAE MASU!

By Debora A

Jul 18, 2020

This course was absolutely fantastic. A lot of thought is put into the modules and it is obvious the professor is passionate. This passion makes the topic much more alluring to the listeners as they are guided through the late 19th and early 20th century Japan. It was honestly therapeutic to listen about the intentions and feelings behind the pieces that are presented and I most definitely have become more curious in this topic than when I started. I recommend this course to anyone who is interested in Japanese culture and either wants to start or continue their educational journey.

By Zhafira K R

Jul 27, 2020

attending the Words Spun Out of Images: Visual and Literary Culture class in Nineteenth Century Japan in my opinion is very interesting, because this is the first time I learned that general people who are interested in studying Japanese literature can study at Tokyo University, even though online at Coursera. because I am an Indonesian student majoring in Japanese science, this is really interesting.This course makes me want to study Japanese literature more deeply. I hope there will be more classes about Japanese literature next time.

thank you.

By Ayşe S K

Aug 15, 2020

This class helped me to expand my vision and broaden my understanding on Japanese literature and visual culture. Thanks to this course, now I am able to evaluate the new art forms I come across from a different perspective than before. While delivering information about visual and literary culture of Japan, I also obtained facts about the daily life and culture of Nineteenth Century Japan owing to this course.I would recommend this class to anyone who are passionate about Japanese literature and visual culture.

By Vatsala S

Sep 15, 2020

I love the instructor Robert Campbell. He has a calming and neutral tone no matter what he speaks. Still, we can tell how passionate he is about the subject, especially by the end when he admits that not much research has been carried on in this field. Despite the obvious limitations and setbacks, he continuously points us to the best resources. I have discovered a world of appreciation for Japanese culture, individual lives, and art in general. Thank you to the instructor and Coursera for hosting this course.


Aug 30, 2020

The class is great and interesting for anyone looking for specific information about the subject of portraits and literature in Japan in the 19th century, as well for people just interested to know the theory of Japanese photography, literary or art in general. With great explanations and examples, make the exercise to learn more enjoyable by obtaining a better understanding of visual arts, words, customs, politics, and history of Japan with the beauty and variety of portraits.

By Bee N

Nov 13, 2017

Thoroughly enjoyed this very interesting course. I have never considered the literary aspect of the visual arts (ukioye, portraits, postcards, etc) and the direct and indirect relations it has with the accompanying literature. Very enjoyable and educational class. Professor Campbell has made this complicated subject into a very understandable, easy-to-follow course. I enjoyed it so much, I finished the entire course in 1 day! Thank you very much! Janice


Aug 23, 2020

This course was so interesting it leaves me with so many questions.... I'm excited to look answers to. The professor was particularly good at communicating and explaining each of the topics. Your selection of each of the images and module topics could not have been better. What most pleasantly surprised me were the pieces from his private collection. I have felt very fortunate to see them in this course. Thanks for opening it and sharing the material!

By Daniela N R N

Feb 3, 2020

Este curso es una excelente (y breve) vista panorámica sobre cómo, dentro de la cultura japonesa del siglo XIX y principios del siglo XX, la ilustración, la fotografía y la escritura dialogan entre sí en lo biográfico, poético, propagandístico y ficcional; formando así un discurso estético.

Sin duda, "Words Spun out images: Visual and Literary Culture in Nineteenth Century Japan" ofrece un valiosísimo material dentro de los estudios comparados.

By Alejandro B

Jan 13, 2021

The course combines the evolution of visual art in Japan with the modern history times (end of Edo period, Meiji restoration, Showa) and accompanying literary expression forms from a collection of artefacts some of them found and researched by Professor Campbell, who is an outstanding communicator, transmitting knowledge, passion and deep insights to better model an image of the Japanese behaviour and culture and for those interested learners.

By Georgopetrea C

Oct 24, 2017

I would like to thank prof. Campbell and his staff for this wonderful and very very interesting course! I really enjoyed discovering and further learning how literature and art are so inseperably intertwined. Although I am a great fan of japanese manga and anime I never imagined that this relation of image and word may have been echoing from the past. I am definitely looking forward to your next course!! Thank you!

By Andrea N

Nov 12, 2020

Absolutely wonderful course! There is an amazing journey to be had here, one that you wouldn't expect until you go through the course. Dr. Campbell is a fantastic lecturer - engaging, and obvious in his love of Japanese culture. Highly recommend to anyone interested in history, Japan, art, literature, photographs and correspondence. Thank you, Dr. Campbell, for such a wonderfully thought-out, beautiful course!

By Gray R

Jan 28, 2021

Highly engaging professor covering an interesting topic rare to come across in normal everyday literature. The course length is nice and short so it captures attention and is not overly lengthy. A great introduction to the subject, and I learned a lot even as a longstanding admirer of samurai culture, ukiyoe art, japanese poetry, and history. One of the best courses I've taken on Coursera, doubtless.

By Margie W

Nov 15, 2020

Thoughtful organization and presentation with insightful commentary by the instructor. One really gets a feel for and understanding of the historical context of 19th century Japan and the many ways that words and images had a synergetic relationship. The course did cover the early 20th century where we saw the turning away fom the dynamic relationship between word and image. Well worth the time.

By Ricardo P

Nov 14, 2020

Fue un curso muy constructivo, me ayudo a apreciar el arte japonés, conocer la historia a través de las imágenes y de hacer volar la imaginación a través de esos pequeños portales que son capaces de transportarnos a esas escenas de la historia capturadas por artistas y fotógrafos de la época que nos regalan a las generaciones futuras la oportunidad de mirar hacia atrás y aprender sobre el pasado.

By Karina S B V

Jun 23, 2020

Me pareció muy interesante, tanto el contenido del curso como la forma en la que esta estructurado, se logra comprender, el profesor es claro, dan ganas de seguir aprendiendo, hay cosas que me impresionaron y cosas muy emocionantes en las historias que nos cuenta a lo largo del curso, totalmente recomendado para las personas que desean saber un poco mas de la cultura japonesa de este siglo.

By Hanna F

Sep 19, 2019

Grateful for a chance to enrolled in this course. Module 1-4 presented clearly along with examples, which have piqued my interest to advancing knowledge on subjects, persons, literature, prose mentioned on lectures. Short as it seems, this course have been thoroughly enjoyable, clear and most important, widening horizon and appreciation of visual and literary culture of 19th century Japan.

By Alastair T S

Apr 29, 2018

I really enjoyed this course. I started out without knowing anything about Japanese Art and Literature in the 19th century and finished the course understanding quite a lot. I would like to follow up this course with others if possible, one area of interest to me is the art of Rakugo and how it developed and changed from the Edo period into the Meiji period.

By Jiahua T

May 21, 2020

A great course taught by an emertius Professor in the university of Tokyo, a global Top 30 renowned research university in Japan. He used his captivating language and logical structure to introduce to us a strong connection between word and Imagin in 19 century Japan. Enrolling this class is a absolutely great decision. See you in the discussion forum.

By catherine c w

Nov 1, 2020

What a wonderful class! For what I am sure is an extensive amount of information, it was well organized and flowed very well. Something I knew nothing about; Japanese history and photography. I feel I at least have a glimpse into this culture. Thank you so much for creating this class. It has given me ideas for my photography.

By Crystal D

Oct 24, 2020

An informative and interesting course on the Artistic culture of 19th century japan, that gives a nice introduction to the art of this time, while showing a deep appreciation of the artists of this time. Robert Campbell clearly has a strong understanding of the written and visual art of this time and it show in this course.

By Leah A C

Oct 26, 2020

The learning was fun.I enjoyed the lectures and finally I found out the root of Haiku and Tanka which had been clear to me now. In the Philippines we also adore the Japanese poetry writing and this course opened up my mind about more interesting pieces! Thank you Prof. Campbell, University of Tokyo and the Coursera Team!

By Ksenia D

Oct 10, 2019

As a student of Japanese studies, I am really happy to learn something more about unique facts of Japanese art history. This course also made me familiar with interesting personalities in Japan between Tokugawa and Meiji period. Thank you so much for such an amazing time spending! I advice everyone to enjoy this course.

By akiko k

Oct 12, 2017

For the first time since I graduated from high school, I received a lecture on literature. It was very interesting.In a different way from high school literature classes, the lecture given a wealth of materials was exciting for me.

I would like to receive again if the second Campbell lecture is held.

By Antonios Z

Nov 16, 2017

An excellent course, you can learn a lot about Japanese history and culture from a unique perspective. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in Japan, its art history and culture, and its connection with the Western world. Satisfactory for both beginners and people with experience on the subject.