Teaching: Syllabi for Spring 2014

I am teaching four courses at Grinnell College this semester: two regular ones, a seminar, and a directed reading on Pan-Asianism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (actually, the directed reading is called a Mentored Advanced Project, or “MAP”). These are the syllabi that I am using for the first three of them.

In all of the courses we are collecting our reading notes, class notes, photographs of the chalkboards, handouts, and so forth into an Evernote shared notebook so that we can take what we have studied with us after the class ends and make use of it in the future. In a departure from previous courses, in which note-taking was voluntary and not evaluated, I have incorporated note-taking as a graded component.

Syllabi for Spring 2014

  • Historical Trauma, Memory, and Identity in East Asia (History 295-04)
    Similar to the way that 9/11 has defied understanding in the U.S. and continues to
    produce an emotionally lived sense of loss today, East Asian nations have also
    experienced historical traumas that have become defining moments for them. In
    lectures and discussions we will examine the Korean War, Hiroshima, the
    Cultural Revolution and other catastrophic events from the twentieth century
    that have been remembered, represented, and incorporated into collective
    memories. Our focus will be on the popular literature, textbooks, museums,
    memorials, and other sites where memories have been imbued with meaning. In
    three short papers and a book review you will explore major themes from the
    course. In addition, there will be a midterm and final exam in which you will have
    an opportunity to offer your own analyses on ways of remembering in East Asia.
    By the end of the semester, you will have gained a better understanding of some
    of the controversial issues that have shaped modern nations.
  • Early Modern Japan, 1600–1868 (History 295-03)
    In this course, we will examine the uniquely “Japanese” invention of paperpushing
    samurai who fantasized about fighting; the refinement of hedonistic and
    exploitative pleasures of the “floating world;” and the ways in which Japan’s
    engagement with the world beyond the country’s shores impacted its development
    from 1600 to 1868. In our class meetings, we will analyze and discuss a variety of
    primary sources (in English translation) and secondary scholarship from the
    perspectives of economic, intellectual, political, and social history. You will write
    three short papers and a book review that will challenge you to make reasoned
    historical arguments about the past. There will also be a midterm and final exam
    in which you will have an opportunity to synthesize what you have learned from
    the readings and discussions in order to address relevant historical issues. By the
    end of the semester, you will have gained a better understanding of how a mix of
    “native” and “foreign” components gave shape to the nation’s experience of early
  • From Samurai to Soldiers: Japan at War (History 377-01)
    This seminar explores Japan’s modern history from the perspective of warfare,
    beginning with conflicts involving armies of samurai in the late 1800s, and ending
    with the flights of kamikaze pilots during WWII. Our common readings,
    discussions, and presentations in the first half of the course will provide us an
    opportunity to discuss recent scholarship on Japan at war, and they will familiarize
    you with some of the primary sources that are available in English. The first half of
    the semester is structured to provide you with the foundation and inspiration to
    craft your own original work of scholarship through a focus on how researchers
    have used sources to construct historical arguments. The second half will be
    devoted to the completion of your individual project. By the end of the term, you
    will have a better understanding of why Japan went to war, what it gained, what it
    lost, and how the country was affected by the experience.