I am teaching two classes at Grinnell College this semester, and these are the syllabi that I am using for them. My aim with the course “East Asia in World History, 1500 to the Present,” is to cover events within East Asia from the perspective of interactions among countries and people. My aim in the second course, “Modern Japan, 1868 to the Present,” is to focus on the social, work, family, and physical environments that have shaped the nation.
In both 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 students can take what they have studied with them after the class ends and make use of it in the future.
My Syllabi for Fall 2013
- East Asia in World History, 1500 to the Present
The 15th and 16th centuries saw Europeans arrive not only on the shores of the Americas, but also on the shores of East Asia. In an age of increasing interactions across seas and continents, how have China, Japan, and Korea transformed into modern nations? In this course we will explore social, cultural, political, and economic interactions within East Asia from around 1500 to the present. Through primary and secondary sources, we will consider interpretations of the past that continue to dramatically impact how people today perceive themselves, their countries, and international relations. Some of the topics covered will include the dynamic growth of modern economic markets, the collapse of the traditional trade system, imperialism, revolutions, and the interconnected experiences of modernity.
- Modern Japan, 1868 to the Present
As a child, Katayama Sen (1859–1933) witnessed the dismantling of Japan’s insular samurai government and the “restoration” of the emperor to power in 1868. By the time he traveled halfway across the world to Grinnell College to study as a young man at the end of the 19th century, Japan had given up swords for guns, and it was already well on its way to becoming the most powerful nation in Asia. In 1922, Katayama helped found the Communist Party in his home country and, though he died 11 years later, the party survived him. It continued on through Japan’s prosperous “economic miracle” in the post-war era, and it has remained active today in the midst of the “lost decades” of economic stagnation in the 1990s and 2000s. This course explores the experiences of people like Katayama, whose lives were deeply impacted by radical transformations within Japan, and asks what we can learn from them.