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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

724 ratings

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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51 - 75 of 229 Reviews for Words Spun Out of Images: Visual and Literary Culture in Nineteenth Century Japan

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 Ángel N I

Sep 10, 2021

Un estupendo curso con mucha y muy buena información sobre el tema. Los subtítulos en espaÑol podrían estar más pulidos pero son suficientemente buenos para poder seguir el curso con provecho. En la sección de "recursos" se quedaron un poco cortos, especialmente para las semanas 3 y 4, pero aún así no deja de ser un curso ameno, completo y con una dificultad adecuada. Gracias.

By Alix G

May 24, 2021

The teacher is a natural, knows his subject and is clearly very spontaneous and interested in what he is teaching, which makes all the difference. The subject in itself is obviously very interesting, but the professor makes the course a thousands time better. Would definitely recommend to anyone interested in Japan history and culture, it is very complete and very interesting.

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 Kevin G M B

Sep 16, 2021

Excellent course! Dr. Campbell's masterful modules give an insightful glimpse of the conjunction between Japanese Art and literature. As an art historian by training, this was a refreshing course, and it also gave a wonderful explanation of the Japanese artistic scene as it transitioned from the 19th century into the 20th.

By Leah A M 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 Popi L

Feb 21, 2024

Very much enjoyed how this course was put together. The way the examples and details were chosen indicated a very deep well of understanding of the material; coupled with a sensitivity for the participant's 'naiveness'. Kudos to the team and most specially to our facilitator. I am very grateful for what I've learned.

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.


Jan 21, 2023

Un curso en extremo interesante y bien llevado. Las lecciones son muy ilustrativas y siento que aprendí mucho a cada paso. La organización de temas y los recursos fotográficos fueron los apropiados, se abarcaron temas apasionastes que atañen a la historia, el arte, la literatura y la cultura. Curso muy recomendado.

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 Ken D

Nov 15, 2023

Fantastic, insightful review of Japanese images through the ages and their unique association with the written word. This will open up a whole new aspect of my own appreciation of these images and will be particularly valuable for my visit to Japan in the new year. Many thanks to Professor Campbell.

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.

By Denis H I

Mar 4, 2021

Very interesting and enlightening course. I had studied bits of Japanese literature and history, and being able to connect my previous knowledge with Professor Campbell's course was fascinating. Prior knowledge might help, but it is definitely not necessary. I am looking forward to more.

By Jessica R

Apr 3, 2018

I loved this course - Robert Campbell is expert at conveying not only the knowledge of the material but also his passion for it. I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in Japanese culture and art. It has certainly enriched my own understanding and appreciation.

By Caterina Y P

Jun 23, 2020

I learned a lot about the relationship between words and images in "long" nineteenth-century art and literary culture. The course inspired me to learn more about such images at my local museums and to read some of the novels mentioned in the course that are available in English.

By LeeAnn N

Feb 28, 2024

This course was a great insight to how much change happened in Japan at the turn of the 20th century. I love the little bits of history that most other professors pass over, and Professor Campbell did a great job of filling those gaps. I hope he does more classes in the future.

By ellena g

Jun 9, 2020

This course is a gem ! I The lecturer is charismatic in the sense of providing a lot of knowledge and information about Japanesese art and litterature , in a way which is easy to 'digest'' ! I am so looking forward for a second - advanced course on this topic , if possible.

By peter c

Aug 15, 2020

I really enjoyed this Course and learnt a lot from it, there isn't much in the way of Japanese related courses and this does well to impart knowlage to the viewer of aspects of Japanese culture that I would say are not made clear from a basic understanding of the culture.

By radovan m

Mar 5, 2019

This course, presented by a very charismatic lecturer, opened a whole new literary world for me and provided me with a lot of inspiration for my photographic work. I went through all four modules in two weeks and ended up with more curiosity about the subject :)

By Hildebrando C

Jun 30, 2020

Un excelente curso que abre el panorama hacia un nuevo enfoque de cómo observar el arte japonés de manera ambivalente: no solo la literatura, sino las artes gráficas y las fotografías de principios del siglo XX. Ojalá hubieran más cátedras dictadas por el Dr.!

By Loreta M

Oct 15, 2020

Thank you very much for the course, I loved every single lecture, I learned the way to understand the way of creating text and art and importance of the set of those. Thank you very much and I am looking forward to visit back many Japanese museums again soon.

By Yumi S

Oct 21, 2017

I'm a lot of fun of Sir Robert Campbell. At the beginning of the course, it was tough for me to understand the each content. But the each quiz was interesting. I had a really good time with listening to his lecture and reading the transcription. Thank you.