From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project: http://magazine.beloit.edu/?story_id=240813&issue_id=240610

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Japanese Source Letter Assignment, Autumn 2017

On this date on Round and Square's History 
31 August 2015—China's Lunar Calendar 2015 08-29
31 August 2015—New York Review of Books Questions: Autumn 2015
31 August 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 08-29
31 August 2014—New York Review of Books Questions: Autumn 2014
31 August 2013—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 08-29
31 August 2013—Syllabic Cycles: Mountains Syllabus (b)
31 August 2012—The New Yorker and the World: Course Description (h)
31 August 2011—Annals of Ostracism: Discovered Notes

[a] Text and illustration RF
Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World
History 210
Autumn 2017

Preliminary Writing Assignment 
Japanese Sources: The Letter
By choosing the letter format for your first writing assignment, I am asking you to build upon the skills you have already begun to develop in analyzing (and providing examples for) Japanese source materials. You have already reached a point where you have some experience with Japanese source materials, and your job will be to explain it to an intelligent non-specialist.
[b] Reaching, teaching RF

Teach it, really.

Letters from “the field” (or our modified “archive” of source materials on the syllabus) are a good way to refine your thoughts about historical study, and they are a useful medium for beginning the intellectual “framing process” that will accelerate as we move through the next two-thirds of the course. The letter writing exercise is especially useful while studying primary source materials. 

The nonfiction writer John McPhee explains to his students that a letter is often precisely the solution to problems of interpretation or clarity—when in doubt, write to mother, he says. In this case, it is not a plea of “send money” that the letter contains, but a reworking, rethinking, and contextualization of your work. You need not limit yourself to kinfolk, but you need to think about who the recipient will be (ideally someone who will welcome a letter about “doing theory”).

You owe it to yourself to listen to this long interview with McPhee (but I know that you are pressed for time). At the very least, though, listen to the first few minutes. It is the very purpose that lies behind this assignment.

John McPhee NPR (1978) 22:40
Click on the second blue circle on the right side of the page (it is worth it)

Now start writing. Toward that end, you should pay attention to the following issues.

1. The letter needs to be “long enough” to get you deeply into several issues regarding historical research methods, including particular approaches and a few examples. There is no absolute upper limit, but I am going to make an absolute lower limit of 2,000 words (about three pages). Realistically, your letter should probably be somewhere in the 3,000 word range (about ten pages). 2,000 words (about six pages) is the bare minimum. Do not turn in an assignment shorter than that.
2. I am asking you to connect with a very specific reader, and to explain “historical research methods” in a level of detail that she will find satisfying. You are the expert, and your “audience” is the person who will be reading your letter (think of my role as reading over her shoulder). I have found that this kind of assignment helps students to explain even abstruse matters, because the personal relationship they have with their readers demands an attention to patient explanation that is often lacking in more “academic” forms of writing, in which they assume that a professor already knows what they are writing about.

Your reader probably doesn't. 

Make it make sense.

3. You may approach your materials from any angle that you like, but you will need to “cover” at least the following items, no matter what order you choose.

          a. You must discuss the “what is a primary source?” question. Provide your reader
              with at least a few ways of thinking about it.

          b. Give your reader a sense of what you have learned up to this point about 
              how to read primary sources. Use examples from our course materials.

          c. Finally, give your reader some sense of what it is like to “learn through sources”
              by discussing the details of some of our texts. It might be useful to think of the 
              “pragmatic/historical” dimensions that are explained on the syllabus.

          d. You must have at least one illustration. Think about "the rhetorical role of 
               illustrations" in the New York Review of Books.
4. The best way to approach the writing process is in three parts (this is a friendly suggestion). First, jot down some notes for each of the “sections” of your letter. Second, using those notes as a guide, write a rough draft of the whole letter. Third, revise, polish, and refine.  

Voilà you will have something not unlike what Alexis de Tocqueville might have written about understanding a complex, foreign culture that baffled and enticed him 180 years ago. While your letter won’t be as long as Democracy in America, it is likely—if it is done well—to be much like Tocqueville’s rich and evocative letters back to his family about encountering people, texts, and institutions in a strange land called the United States. 

You get the idea. If you don't, just raise your hand and ask me (or send me an e-mail message). I'll be happy to help.
***  ***
Letters are Due (as stapled hard-copies outside my office, MI 206)
by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 1

Add the word count and your box number to all papers!
[e] And then you may rest RF

Monday, June 12, 2017

Historical Research Methods Letter Assignment, Autumn 2017

On this date on Round and Square's History 
30 August 2015—China's Lunar Calendar 2015 08-29
30 August 2015—New York Review of Books Questions: Autumn 2015
30 August 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 08-29
30 August 2014—New York Review of Books Questions: Autumn 2014
30 August 2013—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 08-29
30 August 2013—Syllabic Cycles: Mountains Syllabus (b)
30 August 2012—The New Yorker and the World: Course Description (h)
30 August 2011—Annals of Ostracism: Discovered Notes

[a] Text and illustration RF
Historical Research Methods
History 210
Autumn 2017

Preliminary Writing Assignment 
Research: The Letter
By choosing the letter format for your first writing assignment, I am asking you to build upon the skills you have already begun to develop in analyzing (and providing examples for) research materials. You have already reached a point where you have some experience with “research,” and your job will be to explain it to an intelligent non-specialist.
[b] Reaching, teaching RF

Teach it, really.

Letters from “the field” (or our modified “archive” of research works on the syllabus) are a good way to refine your thoughts about historical research, and they are a useful medium for beginning the intellectual “framing process” that will accelerate as we move through the next two-thirds of the course. The letter writing exercise is especially useful while studying research materials. 

The nonfiction writer John McPhee explains to his students that a letter is often precisely the solution to problems of interpretation or clarity—when in doubt, write to mother, he says. In this case, it is not a plea of “send money” that the letter contains, but a reworking, rethinking, and contextualization of your work. You need not limit yourself to kinfolk, but you need to think about who the recipient will be (ideally someone who will welcome a letter about “doing theory”).

You owe it to yourself to listen to this long interview with McPhee (but I know that you are pressed for time). At the very least, though, listen to the first few minutes. It is the very purpose that lies behind this assignment.

John McPhee NPR (1978) 22:40
Click on the second blue circle on the right side of the page (it is worth it)

Now start writing. Toward that end, you should pay attention to the following issues.

1. The letter needs to be “long enough” to get you deeply into several issues regarding historical research methods, including particular approaches and a few examples. There is no absolute upper limit, but I am going to make an absolute lower limit of 2,000 words (about three pages). Realistically, your letter should probably be somewhere in the 3,000 word range (about ten pages). 2,000 words (about six pages) is the bare minimum. Do not turn in an assignment shorter than that.
2. I am asking you to connect with a very specific reader, and to explain “historical research methods” in a level of detail that she will find satisfying. You are the expert, and your “audience” is the person who will be reading your letter (think of my role as reading over her shoulder). I have found that this kind of assignment helps students to explain even abstruse matters, because the personal relationship they have with their readers demands an attention to patient explanation that is often lacking in more “academic” forms of writing, in which they assume that a professor already knows what they are writing about.

Your reader probably doesn't. 

Make it make sense.

3. You may approach your materials from any angle that you like, but you will need to “cover” at least the following items, no matter what order you choose.

          a. You must discuss the “what is research?” question. Provide your reader with 
              at least a few ways of thinking about it. Use examples from texts you have 
              noticed in the Geil archive.

          b. To some extent (you may choose to emphasize this matter or just treat it lightly. 
               It is entirely your decision. You certainly have plenty to discuss about Geil, but 
               this letter need not be a "biography" of him.

          c. Give your reader a sense of what you have learned up to this point about 
              how to "do" research, using the Geil archive. Use examples, either from the 
              course or your own work.

          d. Finally, give your reader some sense of what it is like to “learn to do research” by 
              discussing the details of some of our texts. Think about your possible research 
              proposal project. Explain it to your reader.

          e. You must have at least one illustration. Think about "the rhetorical role of 
               illustrations" in the New York Review of Books.
4. The best way to approach the writing process is in three parts (this is a friendly suggestion). First, jot down some notes for each of the “sections” of your letter. Second, using those notes as a guide, write a rough draft of the whole letter. Third, revise, polish, and refine.  

Voilà you will have something not unlike what Alexis de Tocqueville might have written about understanding a complex, foreign culture that baffled and enticed him 180 years ago. While your letter won’t be as long as Democracy in America, it is likely—if it is done well—to be much like Tocqueville’s rich and evocative letters back to his family about encountering people, texts, and institutions in a strange land called the United States. 

You get the idea. If you don't, just raise your hand and ask me (or send me an e-mail message). I'll be happy to help.
***  ***
Letters are Due (as stapled hard-copies outside my office, MI 206)
by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 1

Add the word count and your box number to all papers!
[e] And then you may rest RF

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Social and Cultural Theory Letter Assignment, Autumn 2017

On this date on Round and Square's History 

[a] Text and illustration RF
Social and Cultural Theory 
Anthropology 206 
Autumn 2017

Preliminary Writing Assignment 
Theory: The Letter
By choosing the letter format for your first writing assignment, I am asking you to build upon the skills you have already begun to develop in analyzing (and providing examples for) theoretical constructions. You have already reached a point where you have some experience with “theory,” and your job will be to explain it to an intelligent non-specialist.
[b] Reaching, teaching RF

Teach it, really.

Letters from “the field” (or our modified “archive” of theoretical works in Moore) are a good way to refine your thoughts about ethnographic and historical study, and they are a useful medium for beginning the intellectual “framing process” that will accelerate as we move through the next two-thirds of the course. The letter writing exercise is especially useful while studying theoretical source materials. 

The nonfiction writer John McPhee explains to his students that a letter is often precisely the solution to problems of interpretation or clarity—when in doubt, write to mother, he says. In this case, it is not a plea of “send money” that the letter contains, but a reworking, rethinking, and contextualization of your work. You need not limit yourself to kinfolk, but you need to think about who the recipient will be (ideally someone who will welcome a letter about “doing theory”).

You owe it to yourself to listen to this long interview with McPhee (but I know that you are pressed for time). At the very least, though, listen to the first few minutes. It is the very purpose that lies behind this assignment.

John McPhee NPR (1978) 22:40
Click on the second blue circle on the right side of the page (it is worth it)

Now start writing. Toward that end, you should pay attention to the following issues.

1. The letter needs to be “long enough” to get you deeply into several issues regarding social and cultural theory, including particular approaches and a few examples.  There is no absolute upper limit, but I am going to make an absolute lower limit of 2,000 words (about three pages). Realistically, your letter should probably be somewhere in the 3,000 word range (about ten pages). 2,000 words (about six pages) is the bare minimum. Do not turn in an assignment shorter than that.
2. I am asking you to connect with a very specific reader, and to explain “social and cultural theory” in a level of detail that she will find satisfying. You are the expert, and your “audience” is the person who will be reading your letter (think of my role as reading over her shoulder). I have found that this kind of assignment helps students to explain even abstruse matters, because the personal relationship they have with their readers demands an attention to patient explanation that is often lacking in more “academic” forms of writing, in which they assume that a professor already knows what they are writing about.

Your reader probably doesn't. 

Make it make sense.

3. You may approach your materials from any angle that you like, but you will need to “cover” at least the following items, no matter what order you choose.

          a. You must discuss the “what is theory?” question. Provide your reader with 
              at least a few ways of thinking about it.

          b. Give your reader a sense of what you have learned up to this point about 
              how to “apply” theory. Use examples, either from the course or your own work.

          c. Finally, give your reader some sense of what it is like to “learn theory” by 
              discussing the literary and historical dimensions of some of our texts.  It 
              might be useful to think of the “pragmatic/historical” dimensions that are 
              explained on the syllabus.

          d. You must have at least one illustration. Think about "the rhetorical role of 
               illustrations" in the New York Review of Books.
4. The best way to approach the writing process is in three parts (this is a friendly suggestion). First, jot down some notes for each of the “sections” of your letter. Second, using those notes as a guide, write a rough draft of the whole letter. Third, revise, polish, and refine.  

Voilà you will have something not unlike what Alexis de Tocqueville might have written about understanding a complex, foreign culture that baffled and enticed him 180 years ago. While your letter won’t be as long as Democracy in America, it is likely—if it is done well—to be much like Tocqueville’s rich and evocative letters back to his family about encountering people, texts, and institutions in a strange land called the United States. 

You get the idea. If you don't, just raise your hand and ask me (or send me an e-mail message). I'll be happy to help.
***  ***
Letters are Due (as stapled hard-copies outside my office, MI 206)
by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 1

Add the word count and your box number to all papers!
[e] And then you may rest RF

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World Syllabus, Autumn 2017 (b)

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Syllabic Cycles"
***  *** 
On this date in Round and Square History
15 January 2015—Attendance Policy: Spring 2015
15 January 2015—China's Lunar Calendar: 2015 01-15
15 January 2014—Erlangen 91052: Introduction 
15 January 2014—China's Lunar Calendar: 2014 01-15
15 January 2013—Channeling Liam: Free Will
15 January 2012—Hurtin', Leavin, and Longin': Upbeat and Downcast
15 January 2011—Kanji Mastery: Resource Center
***  ***
Click here for either half of the Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World Syllabus
[a] Golden RF

Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World
HIST 210
Autumn 2017
TTh 10:00-12:00
Robert André LaFleur                                                  Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 206                                                      Tuesday      4:00-5:30
363-2005                                                                         Thursday    4:00-5:30           lafleur@beloit.edu                                                          ...or by appointment          

Required Books         
Benedict, Ruth. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword
Berry, Mary Elizabeth. Japan in Print
Bestor, Theodore. Neighborhood Tokyo
Bestor, Theodore. Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World
Bix, Herbert. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
Dower, John. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
Keene, Donald. Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912
McCullough, Helen. Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology
Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko. Rice as Self: Japanese Identities Through Time
Rupp, Katherine. Gift-Giving in Japan
Varley, Paul. Japanese Culture
Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual.
All books are on library reserve

On Library Reserve—Required Reading
Lu, David, Japan: A Documentary History
LaFleur, Robert, Great Mythologies of the World: East Asia and the Pacific 

Course Description
This course will examine Japanese history and culture in the context of the wider East Asian world.  We will begin with early Japanese history and the influence of both Korea and China on early Japanese institutions. In an even broader perspective, we will consider Japan (and East Asia's) role in a complex Pacific world, and how that region has shaped the world at large—from cultural and military forces to environmental issues, trade, and development.

We will then examine the development of Japan’s indigenous traditions during the Heian (794-1185), Kamakura (1185-1333), and Ashikaga (1336-1568) periods. The second half of the course will deal with modern Japanese history and culture, paying equal attention to historical and ethnographic materials, and taking a careful look at the development of the Kanto and Kansai regions in modern Japanese history and culture. Throughout the course we will use examples from the Japanese language—spoken phrases, the two major syllabaries (hiragana and katakana), and kanji, or Chinese characters—to analyze Japanese history and culture in linguistic context.

Evaluation
Quizzes                                                            10%      Every Class Session
Source Letter                                                   15%      Week Four
Exam I                                                              15%      Week Seven
Midterm Essay                                                  20%     Week Nine
Source Paper                                                   25%      Week Fourteen
Exam II                                                             15%      Week Sixteen
Class attendance and participation is expected.  

Click here for either half of the Japanese History and Culture Syllabus
History 210
Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World
Autumn 2017
Week IX          
Contemporary Japanese Culture II
Rice, Self, and Samurai
Tuesday, October 24 (Film in Class)
Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai (七人の侍)
     Part One
     Part Two
Thursday, October 26
Ohnuki-Tierney, Rice as Self
     Food as a Metaphor of Self: An Exercise in Historical Anthropology
     Rice and Rice Agriculture Today
     Rice as a Staple Food?
     Rice in Cosmogony and Cosmology
     Rice as Self, Rice Paddies as Our Land
     Rice in the Discourse of Selves and Others
     Foods as Selves and Others in Cross-cultural Perspective
     Symbolic Practice through Time: Self, Ethnicity, and Nationalism
Rice and Japanese Culture Essays Due by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 29

Week X
Late Tokugawa and Early Meiji Japan (c. 1800- c. 1900)
Tuesday, October 31
Round and Square Click for separate Round and Square Syllabus
Great Mythologies of the World (on library reserve): Lecture 44
     44: Nature Gods and Tricksters of Polynesia      
Keene, Emperor of Japan: 1-209
Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 273-344
Read section headers and source titles (this should take twenty minutes)
     The End of Tokugawa Rule     
     Early Meiji Political Developments                 

Thursday, November 2
Keene, Emperor of Japan: 210-415
***  ***
Please read the Source Paper Assignment
(Due Sunday 12/3 by 5:00 p.m. in my office—MI 111)

Week XI
The Late Meiji, Taisho, and Showa Eras (c. 1900-1945)
Tuesday, November 7
Round and Square Click for separate Round and Square Syllabus
Great Mythologies of the World (on library reserve): Lecture 45
     45: Creation and Misbehavior in MicronesiaBix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan: 21-232
Part I: The Prince’s Education, 1901-1921
     The Boy, the Family, and the Meiji Legacies
     Cultivating an Emperor                                       
     Confronting the Real World                                 
Part II: The Politics of Good Intentions
     The Regency and the Crisis of Taisho Democracy    
     The New Monarchy and the New Nationalism         
     A Political Monarch Emerges                               
Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 345-458
Read section headers and source titles (this should take twenty minutes)
     Social and Economic Development in the Meiji Era
     Taisho Democracy
     Rise of Ultranationalism and the Pacific War            

Thursday, November 9
Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan: 233-530
Part III: His Majesty’s Wars, 1931-1945
     The Manchurian Transformation
     Restoration and Repression
     Holy War
     Stalemate and Escalation
     Prologue to Pearl Harbor
     The Ordeal of Supreme Command
     Delayed Surrender    
***  ***
Please read the Source Paper Assignment
(Due Sunday 12/3 by 5:00 p.m. in my office—MI 111)

Week XII
The Postwar Era
Tuesday, November 14
Round and Square Click for separate Round and Square Syllabus
Great Mythologies of the World (on library reserve): Lecture 46
     46: Melanesian Myths of Life and CannibalismDower, Embracing Defeat: 19-275
Part I: Victor and Vanquished
     Shattered Lives                                                  
     Gifts from Heaven                                               
Part II: Transcending Despair
     Kyodatsu: Exhaustion and Despair                         
     Cultures of Defeat                                               
     Bridges of Language                                            
Part III: Revolutions
     Neocolonial Revolution
     Embracing Revolution
     Making Revolution
Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 459-524
Read section headers and source titles (this should take twenty minutes)
     Japan Under Occupation  
     Politics and Problems of Security     
           
Thursday, November 16
Dower, Embracing Defeat: 277-564
Part IV: Democracies
     Imperial Democracy: Driving the Wedge
     Imperial Democracy: Descending Partway from Heaven
     Imperial Democracy: Evading Responsibility
     Constitutional Democracy: GHQ Writes a New National Charter
     Constitutional Democracy: Japanizing the American Draft
     Censoring Democracy: Policing the New Taboos
Part V: Guilts
     Victor’s Justice, Loser’s Justice                            
     What Do You Tell the Dead When You Lose?        
Part VI: Reconstructions
     Engineering Growth                                            
     Epilogue: Legacies/Fantasies/Dreams     
***  ***
Please read the Source Paper Assignment
(Due Sunday 12/3 by 5:00 p.m. in my office—MI 111)

Week XIII
Contemporary Japanese Culture III—
Early Postwar Reflections from America
Tuesday, November 21
     Assignment: Japan
     The Japanese in the War
     Taking One’s Proper Station
     The Meiji Reform
     Debtor to the Ages and the World
     Repaying One-Ten-Thousandth
     The Repayment ‘Hardest to Bear’
     Clearing One’s Name
     The Circle of Human Feelings
     The Dilemma of Virtue
     Self-Discipline
     The Child Learns
     The Japanese Since VJ-Day
 Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 525-562
Read section headers and source titles (this should take twenty minutes)
     Emergence of an Economic Superpower             
***  ***
Please read the Source Paper Assignment
(Due Sunday 12/3 by 5:00 p.m. in my office—MI 111)
Click Here to Review the Late Assignment Policy

Week XIV
Contemporary Japanese Culture IV— Urban Anthropology
Tuesday, November 28
Round and Square Click for separate Round and Square Syllabus
Great Mythologies of the World (on library reserve): Lecture 47
     47: Origins in Indonesia and the Philippines 
Bestor, Neighborhood Tokyo: 1-161
     Introduction                                           
     Miyamoto-cho, a Portrait                         
     The Development of a Neighborhood                     
     Local Politics and Administration             
     Community Services and Neighborhood Events                   
 Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 563-604
Read section headers and source titles (this should take twenty minutes)
     Bridging the Past and Present               

Thursday, November 30
Bestor, Neighborhood Tokyo: 162-268
     Formal Hierarchies of Participation and Power         
     Friends and Neighbors
     The Festival and the Local Social Order
     Conclusion
***  ***
Source Paper Assignment due on Sunday, December 3
by 5:00 p.m. (hard copy in my office—MI 206)
Click Here to Review the Late Assignment Policy

Week XV
Contemporary Japanese Culture V—Market, Nation, World
Tuesday, December 5
Round and Square Click for separate Round and Square Syllabus
Great Mythologies of the World (on library reserve): Lecture 48
     48: Aboriginal and Colonial Myths of Australia 
Bestor, Tsukiji: 1-176
     Tokyo’s Pantry                                      
     Grooved Channels                                  
     From Landfill to Marketplace        
     The Raw and the Cooked
 Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 605-618
                      Read section headers and source titles (this should take twenty minutes)

 Thursday, December 7
Bestor, Tsukiji: 177-313
     Visible Hands                                                    
     Family/Firm                                                      
     Trading Places                                                   
     Full Circle                                                        
Week XVI
Contemporary Japanese Culture VI—Review
Tuesday, December 12
Exam II (in-class)

Click here for either half of the Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World Syllabus
[e] Centered RF