井底之蛙

8/25/2013

Final Syllabus blogging

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 4:44 am

Well, as I predicted I got my syllabai done too late to post them and get helpful suggestions, other than HIST 200, where I did get (and use) some good ideas.1

Still if anyone has any ideas that might help for next time I would be glad to hear them. Here are the classes.

HIST 200 Introduction to History -The methods class for majors. Focusing on the Boxers this time, I have high hopes for this.

HIST 206 History of East Asia -One I always like teaching (especially since I got more thematic about it) and that students like to take, at least judging by how fast it always fills. I have still not solved the problem of outside readings with this one. I usually like to use three books they can write papers on. One of them should really be a Pre-Han Chinese text, and this time I went with Zhuangzi. The other option is Book of Songs, but both of these are problematic. For the other two I went with Fukuzawa Yukichi’s Autobiography and Liang Heng’s Son of the Revolution. I like both of these, and I like autobiographies with classes at this level, but I wish there were more books that worked like these that would go earlier in the semester.

HIST 332 Early China -This is starting to become my standard model for upper-level courses. Not much for required reading, but lots of optional readings that students can pick from. The idea is that they can Choose Your Own Syllabustm by picking out the stuff that interests them. This worked well last semester in Modern Japan, as there were students who had read and were willing  talk about interesting readings they had done almost every week. We will see how well it works with a class that is always farther from other things students have done that stuff like Modern China or Modern Japan

 

  1. Thanks Chuck []

8/17/2013

The Boxer Uprising and historical method -Syllabus blogging

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 2:35 pm

There is something of a tradition here at the Frog of posting our syllabai for upcoming courses and asking for suggestions. This summer I promised myself that I would get a post up by June and and be able to actually use the suggestions rather than just thinking ‘good idea for next time’. I am pretty proud that I actually have this up a week before classes start. Regardless of my procrastination any comments that could be used now or major things that will have to be put in next time are welcome.

The class is HIST 200, Introduction to History, our methods course for majors. This is actually the last time it will be taught, as starting next semester it will be split into two classes. I like using Cohen, Paul A. History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997 as the main text and organizing principle for the class because

1. It is a really good book, and having students read good books is the point of history classes

2. Cohen talks a lot about what history is and how to do it.

3. It is a China topic with a lot of non-China implications, which is good given that this is a class for all History majors

So, here it is. The formatting will be different, as in the draft I have the guidelines for assignments mixed in with the weekly summaries. I still have some work to do on this, but I would really be interested in suggestions on new readings and assignments.

 

History 200 Introduction to History

 

The point of this class is to help you learn how to think, read and write like a historian. To that end we will be looking at how various different people have interpreted one event, the Boxer Uprising/Rebellion/Movement of 1899-1900. We will also be looking at all sorts of different historical products, from monographs and textbooks to films and graphic novels, and producing all sorts of different things from essays to the outline of a research paper, to a Digital history project. We will also talk some careers and your future as a historian.

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8/8/2013

Chinese youth defending their rights

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 8:24 am

My historical methods course for the Fall will be looking at the Boxers, and I have been reading Jane Elliott’s book on the Boxers.1 It’s a really interesting book, which among other things collects a lot of pictures and cartoons of the Boxers that I had never seen before.

The standard Western image of the Boxers eventually became that they were a gang of colourful, superstitious primitives (just like all non-White people) who had to be put down by the civilized, orderly forces of the West for the good of Civilization and China itself. ((The main book in the class in Cohen’s History in Three Keys, which deals with some of this myth-making and above all how Chinese dealt with this relationship between “Boxerism” Chinese-ness and Anti-foreignism.)) You can see this narrative in the picture below, which is identified as U.S. Marine Corps art, and which I remember from my High School history textbook.2

boxer-rebellion

One of the things that makes Elliot’s book so interesting is that she shows how a less stereotyped narrative was present right from the beginning. She argues that the Qing imperial troops actually did quite well against the foreigners. This makes the Late Qing reforms look better, which fits in with a lot of recent scholarship. She also shows a number of contemporary images, produced for commercial sale in the West, that make the Chinese look more modern, manly, and soldier-like than the standard narrative would suggest.

Chinese Boxers-RightsThis is Ben W. Killburn “Chinese Boys Defending Their Rights”, sold to the American public in 1900

Boxers2Here is “Firing a Volley from the Shelter of a Bank — Chinese Soldiers at Tien-tsin, China” These guys could almost be the Marines in the first picture.

All these photos of Chinese soldiers as modern people were taken by Americans, or are in American collections, and she argues that the Americans had a much more developed tradition of war photography at this point than anyone else, and that they were less likely to want to see Chinese as something out of The Mikkado than the British. This is something I think I will try to do something with in class, as I am often amazed at how totally dead the old American Anti-imperialist tradition is.

  1. Elliott, Jane E. Some Did It for Civilisation, Some Did It for Their Country: a Revised View of the Boxer War. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2002. []
  2. This picture is not in Elliot, but she does have a lot like it. []

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