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150119 UE Book Club Popular Culture: Visual Novel (2020W)

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 15 - Ostasienwissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: German, English, Japanese


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

COURSE TYPE: digital-asynchronous in principle; digital-synchronous and on-site elements possible

The listed dates are only there as a backup, in case we can and want to meet (online or offline), and don't find another one that suits everybody; the course is online (only) in principle (not necessarily in this time-slot). Start date: 9.10.

Friday 09.10. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 16.10. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 23.10. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 30.10. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 06.11. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 13.11. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 20.11. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 27.11. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 04.12. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 11.12. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 18.12. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 08.01. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 15.01. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 22.01. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital
Friday 29.01. 15:15 - 16:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course



This course aims to demonstrate that —and how— one can start to read in Japanese even without all that much textbook knowledge, and have fun doing it!

Specifically, we’re going to read a so-called visual novel, an originally Japanese, text-heavy form of popular culture, in which the text is enhanced by pictures, music, and sound effects. More importantly, in newer releases by major studios, spoken lines are usually voiced by professional voice actresses and actors. Stylistically as well as sub-culturally they’re related to anime/manga and light novels, although more serious works do exist, technically speaking they’re computer/video games, and for historical reasons they often include pornographic elements.

The multimedial nature of the form helps alleviate confusion due to the high-context nature of the Japanese language, while the ability to read and hear spoken text at the same time, makes it easier to understand, as well as to and link kanji and vocabulary. Because the text is presented line by line and requires user input to advances, it doesn’t overwhelm the you but allows you to proceed at your own pace.

So we’re going to read (part of) a visual novel, namely by collaborating online to make it more accessible and finally produce an annotated translation in German and/or English, with a focus on (understanding) the meaning of the text, rather than its grammar. The participants’ level of Japanese and technical know-how permitting, creating a more or less playable translation is also in the cards.

The entire course is expected to be online, circumstances permitting we could also meet at irregular intervals, when that makes sense.

* at least 2 semesters worth of Japanese classes (Theorie 2, Grammar 2, or equiv.)
* some German —most of the participants will probably communicate primarily in German, announcements and assignments will probably be in German only, and you’ll need to understand the German translation; but it’s perfectly acceptable to only reply / write assignments in English, and work only on the English translation.
* Computer (PC oder notebook) running Windows or Linux (maybe MacOS, if you have a lot of experience running games for Windows)

Assessment and permitted materials

Assessment happens continuously throughout the semester, by evaluating the contributions to the collaborative translation project. That does not mean just the translation proper, but also making the content easily accessible, technical implementation, research, editing, layout & design, participation in discussions, and so on.
In addition, occasional individual assignments to evaluate comprehension on a semantic and grammatical level. (The lecturer reserves the option to mark only a sample of the latter, in that case eacht participant would be selected about the same number of times.)

Plagiarising, including using a ghostwriter and submitting a machine translation unmodified and/or as your own, is strictly prohibited (expulsion from the course, and a failing grade with the annotation “unerlaubte Hilfsmittel” [‘cheating’]). Otherwise anything goes. In particular, participants should cooperate (outside individual assignments).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

More than 50 % of the point total is required to pass the course: > 50 % → 4/D; > 62,5 % → 3/C; > 75 % → 2/B; → 87,5 % → 1/A. They comprise contributions to the translation project (75 %) und text comprehension (25 %).

The assessment and distribution of tasks takes into account the participants’ individual skills and language ability. Not least because this is an experimental course, the yardstick for a pass is making an honest effort, and progress is deemed as important as absolute skill, if not more so.

Examination topics

Reading list

Association in the course directory

JBA M16, Modul Alternative Erweiterungen (BA)
neues Curriculum MA: M4

Last modified: Mo 05.10.2020 10:09