This course surveys many of the best recognized works of poetry, prose and theater of premodern Japan between the 8th through 17th centuries. The poetic tradition is traced from its early origins in the Ancient Period around the time of the first major collection, the Collection of Ten-thousand Leaves, through the development of the 31-syllable waka (tanka), Middle Period renga (linked-verse) sequences and the short haiku form of premodern Japan. For prose, the two canonical classics of premodern Japan, The Tale of Genji and The Tale of the Heike will be read in some depth. Other prose texts include early poem-tales of romance, personal journals by both men and women from both the High Classical and Middle Periods, and stories of romance set in the "floating world" of premodern Edo pleasure quarters. For theater we will read several major plays of the Middle Period's noh drama theater then plays revolving around romantic trust written for the puppet theater during the premodern era. Reading the texts will afford discussion of the culture and history of the various eras as well as an exploration of aesthetic values. This course does not assume or require any previous exposure to or coursework in Japanese literature, history, or language.