Syllabus blogging for Fall 2017

There is a tradition here of posting our syllabai and asking for advice on how to teach things. Ideally we would do this long enough before the semester starts to get advice on what to assign and do, but I don’t think we ever do that.

My two new-ish classes for Fall are

HIST 106/ASIA 106 Samurai and Gongfu Heroes: Masculinity in East Asia

and HIST 434 Modern China 1800-present

The Samurai and Gongfu class is mostly movies. This may sound like a shameless attempt to drum up enrollment by putting Samurai and Gongfu in the title and also promising to watch movies…and it is of course. On the other hand, it should be a way to draw a lot of students into some of the main narratives of East Asian culture in print and elsewhere and in both their modern popular and older versions. The original course title was Masculinity and Self-Cultivation but I was advised to drop the Self-Cultivation. We will still read some Xunzi, however. As you can see I have tried to split it into thematic units, which may or may not work. (some seem to make sense, some I struggled with.) I am hoping the student presentations at the end are good, since my main hope is to get them to the point where they can watch an Asian film and understand it in some sort of cultural context. We will see how it works.

Modern China is part of my attempt to split up modern China. I know most people like to do Late Imperial and Modern in a single class, but for both China and Japan I think that Ming/Qing and Tokugawa lend themselves to a social/cultural approach and then after 1840 or 1853 it is time to put politics in command. This is also a class where I am starting to rely more on the books that are available on electronically via our library. Once upon a time you had to get them to buy books, and then you were more or less stuck using the whole book. They are still buying a couple books, but now it is easier to use bits and pieces of things they can read for free. We will see how this works. Any comments are welcome.

ASIA 106.f17

Modern China434Sylf17


  1. I love the 106 syllabus! Several readings have been added to my backlog. Thank you!

    Excepting Hero, I notice the 106 syllabus stops in the ’90s. I’ve noticed more and more businessmen and worldly adventurers in contemporary film…

  2. Nicely ambitious, good mix of material. My library also has ebook access to “Revolution, Resistance, and Reform in Village China” so it’s going on my list of “things I may have to assign next time”
    For the film class, are you screening things, or are they on reserve, or have you found a solution to making videos available online?
    I’m not doing anything new this semester in Asia: My biggest job is the new graduate level historiography class. I am including Cohen’s History in Three Keys as a reading, though, so I’m not entirely out of the field yet.

    1. Johnathan,
      We will see how the Seldon book goes. I picked it because it covers most of the major events of the period from the perspective of one village and I -hope- I will be able to get a good discussion just by having different groups of students read different chapters and explain them to the class.

      For the film class I am screening a couple in class but mostly having them borrow them. A fair number are on Youtube/Netflix. We will see how this works.

      Good luck with Cohen. I used that a few times for our Freshman Historical Methods class. They hated it. Way too foreign and long, although it might work really well for grad students. They might get a kick out of Haddad, John R. “The Wild West Turns East: Audience, Ritual, and Regeneration in Buffalo Bill’s Boxer Uprising.” American Studies 49, no. 3 (2008): 5–38. doi:10.1353/ams.2010.0050.

      Yes, the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show did a Boxer Uprising skit. Where did they get the heathen Chinese defenders from? They used the Native Americans they already had on staff.

  3. I’ve had reasonably good luck with Cohen in upper-division Chinese history, and since a lot of the middle section is based on foreign sources, I hope even the Americanists will find interesting stuff.
    It’s mostly there for the forms, though: different kinds of questions and different kinds of sources…. Plus, I get bored if it’s all modern American historiography.
    Oh, and the Englehardt/Lilienthal book on the Enola Gay exhibit fiasco, with John Dower in it: that also should be interesting.

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