Spring 2016

Faculty Director

Michael Flynn, Professor of Linguistics, The John E. Sawyer Professor of Liberal Learning

Professor Flynn is the chair of Carleton's Linguistics Department. He has been the Resident Director of the Japan Study Program at Waseda University in Tokyo, a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Associated Kyoto Program at Doshisha University in Kyoto, and a visiting professor at Keio University and Chuo University, both in Tokyo, and at Doshisha University. Professor Flynn has been the Director of the Chuo-Carleton Summer Program since 2004. He designed the Linguistics and Culture seminar and was the director of its first edition in the spring of 2012.


Students will stay in a dormitory near Doshisha University, one of Japan’s most distinguished universities. In addition to two courses in linguistics (see below), the program will take advantage of Doshisha’s excellent location to explore several aspects of Japanese history and culture, guided by Doshisha faculty. Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the heart of its cultural life for a millennium, until 1868. Students will visit many important local sites, as well as take weekend excursions to Tokyo and Hiroshima.

One important feature of the seminar is that there will be a group of Doshisha University students, the Doshisha Peers, who will be a part of the program. Together, the two groups will have academic and social events, and the Japanese students will also serve as informal guides to Kyoto and introduce Carleton students to various aspects of Japanese society, as seen by university students. Students will also have connections with university students during the excursion to Tokyo.

The main academic focus of the seminar is on linguistics. There will be two required courses in this area. One, taught by the director, will be on the linguistics of the Japanese writing system, which is surely one of the most complicated and controversial systems in the world. The second linguistics course will be on the structure of Japanese. It will be taught by Doshisha faculty, and will include an examination of several aspects of the language, including phonology, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics. The lone prerequisite for the seminar is at least one course in linguistics.

The seminar will begin with an intensive three-day orientation to Japanese society. It will be held in Tokyo, with instructors from the Kisako Intercultural Institute.


  • To explore the linguistics of Japanese in-depth and with theoretical sophistication
  • To learn about Japan and the Japanese culture 
  • To become comfortable exploring Japan individually or in small groups
  • To develop friendships with Japanese students that transcend the boundaries of the seminar