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:

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, November 28, 2017

China's Lunar Calendar 2017 11-28

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs"  
⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦ From right to left: ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
This is one in a never-ending series—following the movements of the calendar—in Round and Square perpetuity. It is today's date in the Chinese lunar calendar, along with basic translation and minimal interpretation. Unless you have been studying lunar calendars (and Chinese culture) for many years, you will likely find yourself asking "what does that mean?" I would caution that "it" doesn't "mean" any one thing. There are clusters of meaning, and they require patience, reflection, careful reading, and, well, a little bit of ethnographic fieldwork. The best place to start is the introduction to "Calendars and Almanacs" on this blog. I teach a semester-long course on this topic and, trust me, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the lunar calendar. Some of the material is readily accessible; some of it is impenetrable, even after many years.

As time goes on, I will link all of the sections to lengthy background essays. This will take a while. In the meantime, take a look, read the introduction, and think about all of the questions that emerge from even a quick look at the calendar.
Section One
Solar Calendar Date
Eleventh Month, Twenty-Eighth Day
Tuesday, November 28

Section Two
Beneficent Stars 
(top to bottom, right to left)
Lunar Virtue
Concatenated Days
Heavenly Happiness

Section Three
Auspicious Hours
(top to bottom, right to left
23:00-01:00 In-Between
01:00-03:00 Inauspicious
03:00-05:00 Auspicious
05:00-07:00 Inauspicious

07:00-09:00 In-Between
9:00-11:00 Inauspicious
11:00-13:00 Auspicious
13:00-15:00 Auspicious

15:00-17:00 Auspicious
17:00-19:00 In-Between
19:00-21:00 In-Between
21:00-23:00 Inauspicious

The hours above are for Hong Kong. It is up to you if you want to recalibrate or to assume that the cyclicality of the calendar "covers" the rest of the world. This is a greater interpretive challenge than you might think.

Section Four 
Activities to Avoid  
(top-to-bottom; right to left) 

Stove Work
Garnering Piscinity
New Boats
Entering War

Section Five 
Cosmological Information

Eleventh Day (Ninth Lunar Month)
Cyclical day: xinmao (56/60)
Phase (element): Fire
Constellation: Tail (6/28)
"Day Personality" Cycle: Completion (5/12)

Section Six
Appropriate Activities
and Miscellaneous Information  
(top-to-bottom; right to left)

Appropriate Activities
Venerating Ancestors
Inquiring-into Fortune
Entering Study
Meeting Friends
Marriage Engagements
Cutting-out Clothing
Repairing and Constructing
Moving Soil
Erecting Pillars
Raising Beams
Repairing Granaries
Fermenting Beverages
Positioning Beds
Planting and Cultivating
Raising Livestock
Positioning Graves

Debt Not

Baleful Astral Influences
Water Scar
Fire Star
Mutual Repression
Toward Annihilation

Section Seven
Inauspicious Stars

Section Eight
Miscellaneous Activities
厠 門 占
Toilet, Gate, Divination

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Social and Cultural Theory: Final Analysis Assignment (Autumn 2017)

[a] Society RF
This is the last assignment for the Social and Cultural Theory course. Students have written a wide variety of papers, and engaged the study of social and cultural theory from several angles. Their task in this assignment is to explain something in detail...and to use "theory."

Social and Cultural Theory 
Anthropology 206
"Final Analysis" Assignemtn
Using Theory and Explaining Stuff

[b] Explaining RF
The Shorthand Version
1. Choose something that interests you.

2. Explain how it works (and the "world" around it).

3. Use theory. 

4. Show how it helps to understand the subject more deeply.

3,000 words (absolute minimum).

Due by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.

Paper copy in my office (MI 206) unless otherwise arranged.

[c] Culture RF
Possible Format A—Appendix
1. Choose something that interests you, and that you think might make for an interesting analysis. Over the years, topics have included scuba training, EMT training, doughnut-making, coffee shop barista activities, the inner-workings of athletic teams, and so forth.

2. Explain "the world" around that topic in detail, using “thick description” techniques (reread Geertz's essay in Anthropology in Theory).

3. Add a theoretical “appendix” discussing how the reader might deepen her understanding with theoretical perspectives. 

4. Show how it helps to understand the subject more deeply.

Possible Format B—Integration

1. Choose something that interests you (see "Format A" for examples).

2. Explain "the world" around that topic in detail, using “thick description” techniques and integrating theoretical perspectives as you proceed. 

3. Add a succinct conclusion that explicitly… 

4. …shows how your theoretical perspective helps to understand the subject more deeply.

Possible Format C—New Vistas
1. Masterfully blend all elements together in a striking narrative form (previously unimagined) that will be anthologized in theory readers and read by students like you for generations. What if you knew you were writing a classic?

You have examples of anthropologists "using theory" while "explaining stuff" in many of your books this term. Perhaps the most useful ones for this assignment will be Body and Soul and Howard Beckery's What About Mozart...? The key to this assignment is to use theory to explain how something works. Loïc Wacqant's Body and Soul does this extraordinarily well, and any dozen or so pages of that book can be taken as a model for what I want you to do in this assignment.

1. Choose something that interests you.
2. Explain "the world" around that topic in detail.
3. Use “theory.” 
4. Explain why it—the explanation (the "ethnographic detail") and the theory—matters.

Sorry—it’s really that straightforward.
We’ll discuss strategies in class, but this is a serious assignment, and is meant to make you reflect upon your approach to social and cultural theory. It only seems “glib” and lighthearted. I could write ten pages of detail for the assignment, but this is really all you need...without clutter.

Due in my office by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19, 2017
(the last "moment" of finals week).
[d] Pathways RF

Monday, November 20, 2017

Writing From Sources III (Autumn 2017)

[a] Icon RF
Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World
History 210
Final Paper Assignment
Writing From Primary and Secondary Sources 

This assignment is broken into three posts. 
Click below for the others (all are part of the assignment; don't skip any of them).
Sources 1               Sources 2               Sources 3
***  ***
Reading the Sources
This assignment is for a source analysis paper, not a traditional persuasive essay.  It is meant to give you a hands-on experience in working with historical sources. It is “artificial” in the sense that you will not be working in an archive, but it is no less serious for that. My best advice is for you to make separate copies (this may cost a few dollars, but will be worth it) of each of the readings you choose. Yes, that means I am encouraging you to go to a copy machine (or a scanner) and make a copy of the poem in McCullough, the text in Lu, or the half-dozen pages in Embracing Defeat with which you plan to work (these are, of course, just examples).
[b] Volk RF

When you have finished your scanning (then printing) or your copying, you will have a bundle of texts in front of you—an artificial and miniature archive. Now is the time to go back through them, underlining and marking key points that will help you to form an argument. This is different from reading in preparation for class, when you should be trying to understand the documents in the wider context of our class discussions. You will now be reading them to help you construct an argument about a theme in Japanese history and culture. As you make your notes on the individual texts (some primary, some secondary), it helps to have a blank sheet close by, on which you can start to sketch an outline for the developing argument.

Writing the Paper
Audience, audience, audience.  As you begin to write your paper, have a clear audience in mind. Think of your essay as a way of both arguing a point and patiently explaining the historical and cultural themes that the texts raise.  The best way to maintain the correct perspective on audience is to imagine a small group of Beloit College professors who know little about Japan (imagine Steve Wright, Bill New, Lisl Walsh, Pablo Toral, and Daniel Brückenhaus—or just imagine all of the professors with whom you have studied). They are all very intelligent, and know how to construct a superior argument...but hey need you to teach them about Japan. To the extent that you remember this advice (think of the New York Review of Books), you will excel; to the extent that you fall into the habit of writing just for your professor, you will err. Remember this.
[c] History funtime RF

Your paper should lead the readers through the texts and through an argument about Japanese history and culture. Let us take the following example. You choose to write a paper about women and marriage in Japan, selecting an array of sources that includes The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan, The Confessions of Lady Nijo and several poems from Lu. You also choose a passage each from the book by Varley and my Asia/Pacific lectures (secondary sources of, no more than five pages...or ten minutes of lecture). You read the texts carefully, and, as you begin writing your paper, you maintain a balance between explaining the genres and cultural frameworks of your texts and making your key point (your thesis).  

The thesis remains important. Let us say that your thesis is that women had significant room for creative social and even literary action (agency) within the traditional patriarchal household, and that the Western “narrative” about women’s life in Japan treats them (mistakenly) as merely passive figures—pawns among powerful men. If you were writing a traditional paper, you would state that clearly in the first few paragraphs and then find texts to support your point.  It is an important skill to develop, and an ability to frame a thesis will help in this assignment.
[d] Context RF

A source analysis paper is different, though. Let us say that your thesis statement is the same as above (women have “agency”—they are engaged actors in their social situations, no passive bystanders). Your paper will develop slightly differently as you make your argument. You will give a great deal of context from your sources. Indeed, your sources will figure far more richly in your paper than in most traditional persuasive essays. You will spend time showing, for example, how Lady Nijo’s comments on her cloistered life “work” as a narrative form—how she proceeds in a contrapuntal manner that gives context to her pathos.   

You will break down the verbal (and possibly even rhyme) schemes of the poems you analyze. You will, in short, open the world of the texts to your readers as little worlds unto themselves. This kind of paper argues a context and teaches cultural context. Your mission will be both persuasive and illustrative. You will persuade through your argument about female “agency;” you will illustrate (and instruct) by placing your texts in an interpretive universe that helps your readers—who don’t know Japanese culture well—see how the argument fits Japanese culture.

In short, you will teach your reader how to read your sources...even as you make a powerful (thesis statement) point.

This kind of paper can be a joy to write, at least once you develop familiarity with it. It is a necessary skill, too, because writing for audiences unfamiliar with your topic is central to academic life. The source analysis paper encourages you to take the persuasive essay form you learned in junior high school and high school and give it the kind of cultural and historical nuance that we have developed in our class discussions. You might want to think of your explanations of how the sources “work” as a kind of “thickening” of your argument. We will discuss this in class, but the key ideas to remember are: sources, audience, argument, and context.

This assignment is broken into three posts. 
Click below for the others (all are part of the assignment; don't skip any of them).
Sources 1               Sources 2               Sources 3
[e] Audience + Sources + Ideas + Argument = Asia RF

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Writing From Sources II (Autumn 2017)

[a] Shorthand RF
Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World
History 210
Final Paper Assignment
Writing From Primary and Secondary Sources 

This assignment is broken into three posts. 
Click below for the others (all are part of the assignment; don't skip any of them).
Sources 1               Sources 2               Sources 3
***  ***
Your paper should have a title at the top of the page, followed by a “shorthand” list of your sources.  From there, space down twice and start your essay...(double-space the essay itself).  Examples:

A Week in a Country Jail:
Peasant Uprisings, Social Disorder, and Punishment in late-Tokugawa Japan
Thomas T. Hall
31 January 1970
1. Peasant Uprisings (Tsuchi Ikki, or Do Ikki), 1428 (Lu, 165)
2. (and so forth)

Salt Miner's Daughter:
Family, Commerce, and Rural Migration in Twentieth Century Japan
Loretta Lynn
19 December 1970
1. Free Market and Abolition of Za, 1577 (Lu, 189)
2. (and so forth)
[b] Saigo RF

Heaven Says Hello:
Cosmology, Religion, and Popular Belief in Medieval Japanese Narratives
Sonny James
17 August 1968
1. Nembutsu and the Founding of a New Sect (Lu, 127)
2. (and so forth)

Come Live With Me:
Barbarians, "Otherness," and Foreign Beliefs During the Sengoku Period
Roy Clark
12 May 1973
1. Limitation on the Propagation of Christianity, 1587 (Lu 196)
2. (and so forth)

Somewhere Between Right and Wrong:
Education, Moral Learning, and Proper Conduct in Meiji Japan
Earl Thomas Conley
18 December 1982
1. Education of Children (Lu, 258-261)
2. (and so forth)

HIST 210—Japan, East Asia, and the Pacific World
Paper Assignment
Source Paper Checklist

______ Read the assignment carefully and think about possible paper topics.
______ E-mail (or stop by and ask) me any questions you may have.

______ Choose six-to-ten sources from an array of materials.

______ Create a provisional title for your paper and e-mail it to me with the sources 
              in the form listed above.

______ Provisional work (title and sources) DUE NO LATER THAN Sunday, December 10 at 11:30 p.m. (send an e-mail to
*** ***
______ Carefully (re-)read your chosen sources in light of what you have read and 
             learned from the course thus far.  
[c] Expert RF

______ Write an essay on Japanese society, culture, or politics by relying primarily on those sources you have chosen.  Your "audience" should be very intelligent people (such as your professors in other classes) who know relatively little about Japan.  You are the expert, but you must convey the cultural and historical details you have learned to someone who knows a good deal about academic argument.

NOTE: For this assignment ONLY, you should not make a separate title page.  Center your title at the top of the first page, followed by your sources.  Begin your essay immediately below.  Double-space the text of the essay.  Finally, put the word count number at the very end of the paper.

Due at my office by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Stylistic Matters 
*Use Chicago-style footnotes or endnotes for this paper (check my style sheet for instructions, and make sure that you know how to use them before you begin writing).

*Although you will list your sources at the beginning of your paper, please include a bibliography that includes the full reference to all of those sources, as well as any others you might use for a quotation or paraphrase in your paper.  
[d] Making history RF

*The sources at the beginning of your paper should be written in an effective “shorthand” that makes it apparent to the reader what you will be analyzing.  The full source reference will appear in the bibliography (see above), as well as in any footnotes you might use.  For example, you should note the chapter or name of the source at the beginning of the paper—just enough to get your point across (e.g. Mary Berry, “Preface”). Please refer to the examples above.

*You must use accurate citation, with no mistakes in commonly cited items (e.g. single author books).  Make sure that you master the relevant skills (and practice with your remaining abstracts).  If you need a refresher, check the following website.

Examples of Footnote and Endnote Formats

[e] Noted RF
Items listed in the bibliography at the end of the paper (note that the last name comes first in bibliographies).

Ebrey, Patricia. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. New York: Free Press, 1993.

Mair, Victor. The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Footnotes or endnotes (first reference to a book; note that the page number follows the last comma—there is no need anymore for use of “p.” for “page”). Note the first name/last name format.

Patricia Ebrey. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. (New York: Free Press, 1993), 154.

Victor Mair. The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 617.

This assignment is broken into three posts. 
Click below for the others (all are part of the assignment; don't skip any of them).
Sources 1               Sources 2               Sources 3
[f] Anthology RF