Division of Philology and Literature



Classics is the study of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures through an intensive immersion in the Greek and Latin languages and literature.

To read with accuracy and pleasure requires a sure grasp of both the language and literary techniques used. Classics students will become acquainted with the best ideas and genres the Greco-Roman world has to offer: from Homer’s epic poems through drama, rhetoric and philosophy of Classical Greece down to the more private and learned genres of the Hellenistic culture. It will be equally fascinating to observe how Rome adopted and reshaped Greek ideas and culture under the Republic and later under the imperial rule. Equally fascinating is the impact this vast civilization has had on the cultural history of Europe and, ever more increasingly, the whole world. And this not only in the imaginative appropriation of Greek mythology: whenever we discuss such key concepts as, say, beauty, justice, courage, virtue, moderation, history, education, even economy or politics, we are in direct dialogue with Greeks and Romans, indebted to what they had to say about these things.

At graduate level we expect our students to have a mastery of Greek and Latin grammar, as well as a working knowledge of modern European languages (English, German, some French and/or Italian). Although many students choose to go on to study in more detail canonical text (esp. by Homer, Vergil and Ovid), there is much scope for personal tastes and interests. Some lectures and seminars are conducted in English.

Apart from the teaching done by the faculty staff, each year we invite a few part-time lecturers to give seminars on a variety of topics (from Homer to Seneca) and to teach the language classes.

Our department is also home to the office of the Classical Society of Japan, a nation-wide association of classicists established in 1950. We oversee the activities of the Society, such as the annual general meetings and the publication of two academic journals: the annual “Journal of Classical Studies” and the triennial “Japan Studies in Classical Antiquity” (JASCA).

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TAKAHASHI, Hiroyuki Prof. Ovid; Vergil; Latin Love Elegy
KAWASHIMA SHIRO Assoc. Prof. Classical Studies

Slavic Languages and Literatures

The department of Slavic Languages and Literatures is one of the most recent additions to the Faculty and Graduate School of Letters; its first three students completed the undergraduate program in March 1999, and three students have now earned doctorate degrees. The department aims to provide comprehensive education and research in the languages and literatures of Slavic peoples.

Slavistics in Japan has developed around Russian literature studies ever since its birth in the Meiji period. Meanwhile, studies of fields outside of Russia, or even studies of Russian literature before the 19th and 20th centuries have a relatively short history in Japan. In view of the history of Slavistics in Japan as such, the department aspires to cover, in addition to Russian literature, a broader spectrum of the languages and literatures of Slavic nations from all regions and times. To that end, we offer courses on themes that are important for understanding the entirety of Slavic culture, and which are uncommon in other Japanese universities, such as Polish literature, Old Church Slavonic or Old Russian. Typically, courses on the following themes are offered, although there may be some variations between academic years: “Introduction to Slavic Linguistics”, “Topics in Russian Grammar”, “Old Church Slavonic”, “Polish Grammar”, “Russian Literature in the 19th century”, “Reading Russian Literature”, “Seminar in Polish Literature”, “Russian Language Practice”.

Students follow diverse reaearch interests, although Russian literature tends to be the most popular theme for graduation theses. Graduate students pursue an even great variety of interests.

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NAKAMURA, Tadashi Prof. Russian Literature and Soviet Culture

German Language and Literature

In the department’s research and educational activities, major emphasis is placed on modern and contemporary German literature, as might be expected given the research interests of the full-time faculty members. Nevertheless, we also offer a great variety of courses covering diverse aspects of the language and culture of the German-speaking world including not only Germany, but Austria and Switzerland as well, from the Middle Ages to the present. These courses are taught by faculty members from the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, the Institute for Research in Humanities, or part-time lecturers from outside the university.

Currently, some 20 graduate and undergraduate students are enrolled in our programs. Many study sessions and reading circle meetings are held at the common studies room, sometimes also involving students from outside the department. In recent years, an increasing number of students have had a chance to study at institutions in German-speaking parts of the world under inter-university academic exchange agreements, and many students have earned their doctorate upon completing the doctoral program. In addition, graduate students play key roles in publishing the department’s annals, Kenkyū hōkoku.

Ever since its inauguration more than one hundred years ago, the department’s education and research pursuits have been characterized by a consistent emphasis on the close and exact reading of original texts — a tradition that has survived strongly into the present. At the same time, in recent years, we have endeavored to cultivate a broad vision covering a wide spectrum of Western culture, thought and society in general, reaching beyond the framework of German language and literature studies in their narrower sense.

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MATSUMURA, Tomohiko Prof. Modern German literature
KAWASHIMA, Takashi Assoc. Prof. German literature from the 19th century to the present

English/American Language and Literature


We offer, with the help of various part-time instructors, lectures and seminars on a broad range of subjects in the fields of English literature and linguistics. While we take care to teach the historical and cultural background so that students can fully appreciate literary works written in English, it bas been the tradition of our department to lay stress on careful reading of the text itself. We, therefore, expect students to use dictionaries constantly. Students are to write their graduation theses in English. They are encouraged to choose their own area of pursuit for themselves and may write their theses on any subject, from Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes in the field of literature, and from Old English to Present-day English (including World Englishes) in linguistics. This department and that of American Literature are closely connected, most of the courses being common to both departments which merge into one at the graduate school level.

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Our department offers a variety of courses on American literature — American fiction, drama and poetry, especially of the nineteenth century onward — with the help of part-time instructors from the Faculty of Integrated Human Studies and from other universities. Lectures and seminars are basically conducted in Japanese (except those by American and other English native instructors), and although their subjects, focuses and approaches may differ, most of them put special emphasis on careful and analytic reading of texts themselves, which should be the basis for any critical treatment of literary works. Students, therefore, are expected to make extensive use of dictionaries, pay close attention to textual details, and think out each interpretive difficulty they encounter, while developing, through lectures and seminar discussions, their interest in and understanding of broader issues concerning American literature and culture. They are also encouraged to cultivate their knowledge of English and other European literature, since the main body of classic American literature derives from Western literary tradition. Finally, students are to write their graduation theses in English, on subjects of their own choice; for which they should prepare themselves by acquiring sufficient English-writing skills — Academic Writing course is provided for this purpose — as well as by reading a wide range of literary and critical works to enrich their individual studies.

This department and that of English Language and Literature are closely connected, most of the courses being common to both departments which merge into one at the graduate school level.

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SASAKI, Toru Prof. English fiction
IYEIRI, Yoko Prof. English philology
HIROTA, Atsuhiko Prof. English drama
MORI, Shinichiro Assoc. Prof. American fiction
KOBAYASHI Kumiko Assoc. Prof. American Prose Fiction

French Language and Literature

Through learning the workings of the French language and close reading of French literature, students explore, via the portal of French “texts”, the background of French culture, including its philosophy, art and history.

Take for example, the reading of L’Etranger by Camus: through an analysis of its style and narrative, and by an understanding of the author’s ideas and an examination of its relationship with other works and its historical context, we consider how and why L’Etranger develops and concludes in the way it does. Students may focus not only on novels and novelists but may deal with poets, such as Rimbaud and Baudelaire, with thinkers, such as Pascal and Rousseau, and with the works of playwrights, such as Racine and Molière. Art criticism of various French writers as well as writings on French music and films also come under the purview of our field.

Graduate students in the master’s program are expected to acquire advanced linguistic skills in French and learn practical approaches to research in the seminar guided by all members of the faculty. The Master’s Thesis shall be written in French. Those students who wish to become professional academics will proceed to the doctoral program to develop their research into a doctoral dissertation.

The department encourages students to study abroad in French-speaking regions, and many of our undergraduate and graduate students have studied at universities in France and Switzerland. An assistant professor from France teaches the traditional methodologies of text interpretation and paper writing. The department also maintains active interactions with institutions from French-speaking regions, inviting researchers to give lectures and organizing international symposia.

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MASUDA, Makoto Prof. French literature and philosophy in the 18th century
NAGAMORI, Katsuya Assoc. Prof. French literature in the 17th century
MURAKAMI,Yuji Assoc. Prof. French literature
RAPHAELLE BRIN Spec. Assoc. Prof. French literature AND LANGUAGE

Italian Language and Literature

Although the modernization of Japan in many fields of endeavor was modeled on their counterparts in the Western world, Italian culture, despite its exceptional significance in Western culture, was not necessarily included in the “West&quot that served as model for post-Meiji Japan. As a result, Italian studies in Japan have been limited to a relatively small research community, leaving a great expanse of the field uncultivated.

The department has the honor of being Japan’s oldest institution to train specialists in Italian language and literature. Against the backdrop of a tradition dating back to the pre-war period, students now pursue their research interests in an open, liberal atmosphere, on works that are not confined to literary study defined in terms of poetry or novels but may include the works of political figures such as Machiavelli, librettos of operas, or the lyrics of madrigals. Courses are conducted in a seminar format in which students are given instruction tailored to their individual needs and levels of ability, allowing novices unfamiliar with Italian literature to move smoothly into the world of academic research.

Because, as noted above, the Italian studies community in Japan is still a fledgling one, the department continually seeks talented new students. Discovering the secrets of Italian genius from ancient and modern times is in fact so fascinating that it is not unusual for students to switch to our program from some other faculties at Kyoto University, or for graduates of other universities to enroll in our undergraduate program. Why don’t you join us to take part in this challenging endeavor?

To get the feel of what it is like to study in the department, please visit our website ITALOMANIA at http://www.kyoto.zaq.jp/italomania/. We welcome your visit.

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MURASE, Yuji Assoc. Prof. Torquato Tasso and 16th Century Italian Literature

(Cooperative Professors)

OURA, Yasusuke Prof. French Literature, Literary Theory
OKADA, Akio Assoc. Prof. Musicology
OUJI, Kenta Assoc. Prof. History of Social Thought