井底之蛙

3/12/2014

Digital resources

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:16 am Print

I have been looking through two really useful digital resources lately. One is the Hathi Trust website. They have been digitizing stuff for some time, and the site is now really useful. You can find all sorts of out of print stuff from the 20′s and 30′s (and beyond) and the search features work much better than in Google Books itself. There are also lots of people coming up with collections like Records of the American Colonies that will give you a huge mass of stuff without you having to look for it. Sadly, nobody has done the a collection on the League of Nations stuff that I am interested in.

It is more or less a better front end for Google Books, and it works quite well. This is partially because it is easier to search, has a better interface for reading, and is better integrated with World Cat. It’s still geared more towards English language stuff, but it is a really helpful source.

The other source are the various bibliographies in Oxford Bibliographies. If you are interested in Classical Confucianism would you not want to know what Paul Goldin thinks is the most valuable stuff in the field? John Chaffee on Middle Period China? Kristin Stapleton on Urban Change and Modernity? Alan Baumler on opium?1 This is a type of scholarship that strikes me as being particularly appropriate for the web, since these are supposed to be updated every year.

Sadly, both of these are subscription sites, meaning that you can get some of the functionality just by logging in, but you need to be associated with a major institution to look at things for free. The world of scholarship is changing, but less slowly than one might wish.

 

 

  1. Maybe the last one not so much. []

3/6/2014

Exemplary Women

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 2:13 am Print

A new translation of the Lienu zhuan is out, under the title Exemplary Women of Early China The book was compiled by Liu Xiang, mostly from older sources, so it is both an anthology of Pre-Han stories about women and one of the most important influences on post-Han women’s education.

The translator, Anne Behnke Kinney, says that the organizing principle of the book is dynastics, “an ideology for reinforcing habits of deference to a family-based hierarchy for the sake of its ongoing continuity and prestige.” It is thus broader than the usual understanding of filial piety and is not the same as patriarchy, although it often overlaps with it. Most of the stories portray women dealing with some sort of crisis that threatens the family or dynasty.

Sometimes of course women -are- a threat to the family and dynasty, as in this story from the section on the Depraved and the Favored.

The Songstress Queen of King Dao of Zhao

The Songstress Queen was a singer from Handan and the queen of King Daoxiang of Zhao. At an earlier time, she had brought disorder to an entire clan. When she became widowed, King Daoxiang was struck by her beauty and married her. Li Mu remonstrated with him, saying, “This won’t do. A woman’s impropriety is the means by which state and family are turned upside down and made unstable. This woman has brought disorder to her clan. Shouldn’t Your Majesty be alarmed ?”- The king said, “Whether there is disorder or not depends on how I govern.” He then proceeded to marry her.

Earlier, King Daoxiang’s queen had given birth to a son named Jia who became heir apparent. After the Songstress Queen entered the court at the rank of consort, she gave birth to a son named Qian. The Songstress Queen then became a great favorite of the king and secretly slandered the queen and the heir apparent to the king. She [also] arranged for someone to offend the heir apparent and thus provoke him into committing a crime. The king thereupon dismissed Jia and set up Qian [in his place], and deposed the queen and established the songstress as queen. When King Daoxiang died, Qian was enthroned as King Youmin.

The Songstress Queen was dissolute and immoral. She developed an illicit connection with the Lord of Chunping and frequently received bribes from Qin. She made the king execute his great general, the Lord of Wuan, Li Mu. Afterward, when Qin troops marched in, no one could stop them. Qian was then taken prisoner by Qin, and Zhao was destroyed. The grandees, resentful that th eSongstress Queen had slandered the heir apparent and killed Li Mu had her killed and exterminated her family. Together they enthroned Jia at Dai. After seven years they could not defeat Qin. Zhao was then annihilated and became a commandery [of Qin].

The Odes says, “If a man have not dignity of demeanor /What should he do but die. These words apply well to her.

The Verse Summary says,

The Songstress Queen of King Daoxiang of Zhao

Was insatiably covetous.

She destroyed the true queen and heir,

Working her deceit with guile.

She was debauched with Lord Chunping,

And ruthlessly pursued what she desired.

She received bribes, ravaged Zhao,

And died in the kingdom she destroyed

This story gives a nice sample of both court politics in the Warring States and pretty traditional views about the dangers of marrying beautiful women. It also reflects one of the reasons the book was complied, since Liu Xiang seems to have been worried that too many Han emperors were marrying low-born women who did not understand proper family behaviour. These women needed to be either avoided or educated, and this book could help with either. We also get a sample of one of the verse summaries that one can memorize to keep the lessons of the story in mind.

Much different is this story, from the section on Accomplished Rhetoricians

The Wife of the Bow Maker of Jin

The bow maker’s wife was the daughter of an armor craftsman of Jin. In the time of Duke Ping, the duke ordered her husband to make a bow. After three years it was finished. When the duke drew the bow and shot, the arrow did not pierce even one layer of armor. The duke was angry and was about to execute the bow maker.

The bow maker’s wife thereupon begged for an audience, saying, “I am the daughter of an armor craftsman and the wife of the bow maker. I would like to be granted an audience.” When Duke Ping met with her she said, “Have you heard of Gong Liu’s conduct in former times ? Whenever the sheep and oxen trampled their rushes and reeds, he felt great pity for the common people, and his concern even extended to plants and trees. Would he have countenanced the killing of an innocent person? Duke Mu of Qin encountered bandits who ate the meat of his fine steed, but he gave them wine to drink. When an officer of King Zhuang of Chu tugged at his consort’s robe, she tore off his hat tassel. But the king later drank with him quite happily. As for these three rulers, their benevolence became known to the entire world. Eventually each one was requited [for their kindness], and their names have been passed down to present times.

“Formerly, Yao did not trim the thatch of his roof or carve its mottled beams. He had earthen steps of only three levels.Even so, he felt that his workmen had toiled hard and that he was living in great comfort. Now, when my husband made this bow, his efforts were also laborious. The bow’s shaft came from wood grown on the slopes of Mount Tai, and each day he would examine it three times in both the sunlight and the shade. It is decorated with the horn of oxen from Yan, bound with the tendons of deer from Jing, and glued together with adhesive derived from Yellow River fish. Since these four things are among the most select and extraordinary materials in the world, your inability to pierce even one layer of armor must be due to your inability to shoot. Yet you want to kill my husband. Isn’t this mistaken?

“I have heard that in the Way of Archery, one’s left hand should be held as firm as a rock, while the right hand should be held like a diagonal support beam. When the right hand releases the arrow, the left hand should not be aware of it. This is the Way of Archery.”

When Duke Ping did what she said and shot, the arrow pierced seven layers of armor. The woman’s husband was immediately set free and given three yi in cash. A man of discernment would say, “The bow maker’s wife was able to offer assistance in difficulty.” The Odes says, “The ornamented bows are strong;’ and “They discharge the arrows and all hit.”This phrase describes the methods of archery.

The Verse Summary says,

Duke Ping Jin commissioned a bow,

Which took three years to complete.

But he became angry with the bow maker

And was on the verge of punishing him.

The wife went and spoke tothe duke,

And explained what materials were used in the bow.

She set forth the labor and difficulty involved,

And the duke thereupon released him.

So we have another commoner woman, but this one is an expert on bows, archery, rare materials and persuading rulers. She also has the courage to tell the Duke he is lousy at one of the Six Arts (Archery) and is eloquent enough to both get away with it and improve him. Even men could take her as an example!

As a result this is a really useful book to use when teaching about Chinese women. Students come in with a lot of ideas about women in traditional China being powerless and oppressed. That’s not wrong, but getting them to go beyond that is often pretty hard. These stories mostly deal with female agency, but always in a family or dynastic context, so we are getting neither Passive Lady Plum Blossom nor Disney’s Mulan. It is also a good book for Early China. It’s always had to find something to do for the early part of a China class, given that a lot of the secondary stuff is pretty technical and the translated primary sources tend to be philosophical texts that are hard for undergrads to deal with. This seems just about perfect.

Of course, even if you are not going to teach with it, you could still read it. Its a good book.

2/7/2014

Boxers and Saints

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:56 am Print

I did a class that focused on the Boxers last semester, and one of the things I talked about was Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints.

gly_bs1This is a two volume graphic novel that looks at the Boxer event. How good is it? Well he has done his research. Cohen’s History in Three Keys was our main text and it is in Yang’s bibliography, as is Esherick’s Origins of the Boxer Uprising. It shows in the text. If you want to show your students pictures of Chinese peasants being flooded out of their homes

Flood

Or foreign missionaries being obnoxious (more…)

11/25/2013

Pan-Asianism

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 6:32 am Print

Hey, I published something! It is a course reader entitled “Japan, China and Pan-Asianism” I did not write much of it, but it does have my name on it. The reason I bring it up is to call attention to Asia-Pacific Journal (formerly Japan Focus.) Over the years they have published a tremendous amount of interesting stuff, in part because they are one of few on-line journals that takes advantage of the form. Most on-line journals are just the same scholarly research articles that you could find in a dead tree journal. Asia Pacific Journal does those, but also lots of other types of things. They have stuff on current events, translations, interviews, historiographical essays etc.  The idea behind their series of course readers was that there was a lot of good stuff in their archive that could be used to teach with. Rather than have people dig through the archive and figure out what they wanted to use they have been asking people to pull together sets of readings around a particular theme. I did the relationship between modern China and Japan as seen through the lens of Pan-Asianism.

For this one I was able to collect a bunch of interesting stuff that APJ had published that you would not find anywhere else. If you are interested in Pan-Asianism the holy grail is Saaler and Szpilman’s Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History. Instead of trying to get your students to read both volumes of that why not have them read APJ’s summary of it1 written by….Saaler and Szpilman. There has been a lot of research in Europe on the impact of the Russo-Japanese War on Japan’s global standing. Instead of having your students learn German why not have them read Gerhard Krebs, “World War Zero? New Literature on the Russo-Japanese War 1904/05,”2  It’s always good to have them read some primary sources so why not have them read a series of letters between Rabindranath Tagore and the Japanese intellectual Yone Noguchi on the meaning of Pan-Asianism?3 Yes, you could summarize the recent work on the Japanese invasion of China, but why not have Diana Lary do it for you instead?4  All this and a lot more! All free!

  1. Sven Saaler and Christopher W. A. Szpilman, “Pan-Asianism as an Ideal of Asian  Identity  and  Solidarity,  1850–Present,”  The  Asia-Pacific  Journal 9.17.1, April 25, 2011. []
  2. The Asia-Pacific Journal 10.21.2, May 21, 2012. []
  3. Zeljko Cipris, “Seduced by Nationalism: Yone Noguchi’s ‘Terrible Mistake’: Debating the China-Japan War With Tagore,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, November 17, 2007. []
  4. Diana Lary, “China and Japan at War: Suffering and Survival, 1937-1945,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 10.48.2, November 29, 2010. []

11/21/2013

Confucius does Powerpoint

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 3:05 pm Print

 There is an old Chinese story concerning three young men who are too lazy to study. Their father builds them a hut on a mountain figuring that isolation will help them concentrate. It does not work. They meet a divine lady, who wants, of course, to marry them to her three beautiful daughters. She is also willing to give them study help.

The Lady said to the three youths: “What men treat seriously is life; what they desire is honor. Now before a hundred days have been lost to mankind, I shall bring life to you, lords, enduring beyond this world, and position far beyond that of any mortal magnate.” The three youths saluted once more and gave thanks, but were anxious lest their ignorance be a hindrance and their dull wits an obstacle. The Lady said, “Do not be anxious, milords, for this is a simple thing!” Then she enjoined her manager on earth, commanding him to summon K’ung Hsuan-fu (Confucius). In a moment Master K’ung came, equipped with hat and sword. The Lady approached the staircase, and Hsuan-fu presented himself with a respectful salutation. Standing erect, the Lady asked if she might impose a slight task on him, addressing him thus: “My three sons-in-law desire to study. Will you guide them, milord?” Then Hsuan-fu gave commands to the three youths. He showed the chapter titles of the Six Registers (The Six Classics) to them with his finger-and they awoke to an understanding of their overall meaning without missing a single detail, thoroughly conversant with all as if they had always been rehearsing them. Then Hsuan-fu gave thanks, and departed. Now the Lady commanded Chou Shang-fu to show them “The Mystic Woman’s Talisman and Secret Esoterica of the Yellow  Pendants.” The three youths acquired these too without missing anything. She sat and spoke with them again, and found that their studious penetration of all the civil and military arts was now as far-reaching as that of a Heavenly Person. Inspecting each other, the three youths were aware that now their air and poise were balanced and expansive, while their spiritual illumination was uninhibited and buoyant-they were in all respects equipped to become Commanders or Ministers.

 There are a couple of things that struck me here. One is Confucius’ mad Powerpoint skills.

He showed the chapter titles of the Six Registers (The Six Classics) to them with his finger-and they awoke to an understanding of their overall meaning without missing a single detail.

Apparently Confucius can teach someone the Rites Classic just by pointing his finger at the chapter titles. Suck on that Edward Tufte. Also, of course, we have magical learning. Students who have been goofing off all semester are magically transformed into people who know it all, or can at least pass the final. They (or their father) try isolating themselves from distraction (get away from your phone. Go to the library) but it does not work. But then a miracle occurs. My students are of course quite familiar with this idea, since they know that you can learn a lot in just one night of frantic studying. They are also not at all surprised that I, their teacher, once learned a whole semester of geography in one night. They always seem to understand the logic behind the Great Leap Forward, the idea that a red heart can achieve miracles, if you compare it to cramming for an exam.

Sadly, unlink most things on this blog this is not something I will probably ever use to teach with. It comes from Edward H Schafer’s Pacing the Void: Tʻang Approaches to the Stars. ((The lady is in fact a star-lady. Of course the boys end up telling their father about her, as she had told them not to, and she makes them drink something that makes them stupid again.)) As always with his many1 works I feel entirely inadequate to do anything with them in class other than say “cut class next time and go read all his books.”

 

On Amazon I see

Schafer, Edward H. Pacing the Void: Tʻang Approaches to the Stars. [Warren, Conn.]: Floating World Editions, 2005.

———. Shore of Pearls. [Warren, Conn.]: Floating World Editions, 2010.

———. The Divine Woman: Dragon Ladies and Rain Maidens in Tʻang Literature. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1980.

———. The Vermilion Bird: T’ang Images of the South. Warren, Conn.; Abingdon: Floating World ; Marston [distributor], 2006.

Schafer, Edward Hetzel. The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T’ang Exotics. Berkeley Calif.; London [etc.]: Univ. of California Press, 1985.

  1. often reprinted []

11/13/2013

Happy birthday Dunhuang Project

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:32 pm Print

Did you know that this is the 20th anniversary of the International Dunhuang Project? Neither did I. They grow up so quick these international scholarly projects. In honor of the occasion they are posting a lot of things from their collection

They will also let you Sponsor A Sutra. Just as patrons used to get their name attached to a sutra they had copied, you can have your name (or your organization’s name) attached to the digitization of a sutra. They don’t seem to have anything available in my price range right now, but I am definitely going to get some. I think it would make a great Chanukah gift as well.

What interested me most was that they have beefed up their educational section since last time I was there and there is some great stuff. Two that I noted from the Cultural Dialogue on the Silk Road page were

a collection of mudras

mudras

Which is neat if you want to talk about the mass production of Buddhist art and the physical dissemination of religion. These look to me a lot like models for someone doing Buddhist paintings or sculptures.

letter

Along the same lines we have a model letter to apologize for getting drunk. As the site points out things like books of model letters or etiquette books really only make sense in a time or place of rapid social change or intercultural contact. Otherwise why bother to write down how to behave in a book? For more advanced students this will also help to show how weird Dunhuang Chinese was. Here is the text, for any of our readers who may need it.

Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was so intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and course language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realized what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame. It was due to a vessel of small capacity being filled for the nonce too full. I humbly trust that you in your wise benevolence will not condemn me for my transgression. Soon I will come to apologize in person, but meanwhile I beg to send this written communication for your kind inspection. Leaving much unsaid, I am yours respectfully.

Picturing the 1911 Revolution

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 11:37 am Print

Via the comments1 to this post I see that Oberlin has posted an on-line version of History of China for 1912 in 52 cartoons

These seem to be weekly cartoons published in something called the National Review (not the same as the current American magazine of the same name) Needless to say if you are responsible for coming up with a cartoon on Chinese politics every week there will be some weeks when inspiration does not strike or not much seems to be happening, even the the revolutionary year of 1911. Still, many of them are quite good for teaching with or thinking about.

Jan_13Here, for instance, is a nice one showing the Manchus and Han fighting it out while various foreigners take advantage of the opportunity to grab stuff. One of the standard themes of 1911 is that Chinese elites on all sides wanted to settle the thing quickly to avoid encouraging foreign intervention and this picture, drawn by a foreigner no less, illustrates this pretty well.

(more…)

  1. from peacay of BibliOdyssey! []

11/9/2013

How can students relate to Asia?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 12:55 pm Print

Miriam Burstein has a typically good post up on her frustrations in dealing with students who want to ‘relate to’ The Tempest. She was frustrated by this because she can think of other ways to think about a piece of literature besides finding yourself in it.

 Take, for example, “I relate to George Eliot,” or  ”my life resembles George Eliot’s.”  What does that mean? That you have a long term liaison with a man who cannot divorce his wife? That you are a successful intellectual with no “respectable” female friends, a moral arbiter considered immoral by much of the genteel world at large? That you write great novels? That you’re actually kind of conservative? That you read everything in sight? All of the above? What?  Or have you imagined a relation or resemblance into being, a spark of connection that has something, perhaps, to do with Eliot, but just as much with what you needed to find in Eliot? And if you grant that, then perhaps you can grant that there are other ways of thinking about one’s “relation” to a work or author that do not rely on mental mirrors in order to work?

For many academics, much of the “passion” is about the non-resemblance, the non-relation.

As someone who teaches about far-away places I relate to this. Why should my students care about people who are not like them, who they don’t automatically ‘relate’ to? Francis Fitzgerald talks about the trend in American history teacher-ing to try to ground teaching in things that are close to the students, rather than in stories about Far Horizons and different people.

..the now traditional social-studies curriculum..began in the first grade with the study of the home and worked outward in concentric -indeed, Confucian-circles to the community, the state, the nation and the world.1

As it happens, I was at the center of this as a youngster. Parts of my early education were dominated by the people who seemed convinced I was only interested in things that directly connected to me and my town. Township government. Zoning laws. School board meetings. No Vikings or camel caravans or Roman orators. Those would bore me. I would not relate to them. Many years later I was on a train from Shanghai to Suzhou and an American businessman and his Chinese translator sat down next to me. Since in those days a white2 skin counted as an introduction he introduced himself and it turned out he came from my hometown. He quickly launched into a rant about the corruption and double-dealing of the local zoning board. I remember thinking that I had literally gone to the other end of the earth to avoid people who talked about zoning laws in my hometown, and they had apparently tracked me down.

Fitzgerald also talks about Jerome S. Bruner’s controversial MACOS program, which was quite more my style.

Children, Bruner argued, were not interested only in what was close to home or in the information that would be of practical use to them in later life. What attracted them was myth and drama.

MACOS focused on the Netsilik Eskimos specifically because they were remote from the experience of most American schoolchildren. I think I got some of that too. I remember a game we did where I was supposed to be the father of an Eskimo family and I was given a string that connected me to all the other people who were involved in my life, from family and friends to the Canadian company that made my fishhooks to the Saudis who made gas for my outboard. I still remember that fistful of strings (which is good work after so many years) and I enjoyed the lesson and think I learned from it.

Part of the joy of finishing your dissertation is that you can think about things that are not directly connected to your research. I remember staying up all night with a copy of Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning, and the Gods3 , entranced by the introduction’s ringing defense of useless knowledge and loving the fact that there was no way I could use any of this stuff with my World History students. Part of the joy of having a blog is that it encourages you to think about things that don’t even relate to your teaching.

But not all students are like me. This is good thing to remember, since professors tend to think we can understand our students by resurrecting our past memories. This does not work very well first because it was a different age (we had real music back then, not noise) and second because we were always a little odd even as undergraduates. One of the things I remember best from my undergraduate days was the time my ancient Greek history professor used an entire three-hour night class to read through huge chunks of Hesiod’s Works and Days (with his own explanations interspersed) to give us a feel for what the yearly life-cycle of a Greek farmer was like. I loved it, one of the handful of really transcendent learning experiences I have had in a classroom. However, the consensus during our 10-minute break was that he was planning on taking attendance at the end and docking whoever had left a bundle of points, since why else would he spend so much time talking about something so boooooooring?

So how to relate to those students who are different from me? How do you get them to share your passion for the strange? Part of it is just tossing a lot of stuff out there. Some kids really do like economic history with lots of tables. Part of it is trying to include lots of quotes and pictures that will humanize (i.e. make understandable) the people and topics we are dealing with. Part of it is picking out universal themes. Stories of young people growing up should work for anyone. Part of it is connecting it to things in Modern China, which is where you can make money. I don’t really care for the Just So Stories feel of linking everything to the present. “So, kids, that’s why Chairman Mao always slept with his head facing south.”4 You can also link things to stuff they know in the U.S.A. I feel dirty all over every time I tell students that the Laozi’s Dao is kind of like the Force in Star Wars, but it does seem to get a reaction. Part of it is using my own enthusiasm to fill up the void left by a lack of interest in an esoteric topic.5 I get quite manic when I am explaining basic Marxist theory in the China class. Part of it is trying to restrain my urge to jump up and down on a desk and yell like Miriam Burstein. And part of it is accepting that education is what people take out of it, and if students don’t want to take some of this stuff home with them they don’t have to.

 

What do you do?

 

 

  1. p.182. I think this may be the only allusion to the Great Learning I have seen in discussions of American education []
  2. or black []
  3. Bottéro, Jean. Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning, and the Gods. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 []
  4. Mao counts as the present. All students come in knowing the names of two Chinese people, Mao and Confucius. For a bit we had Yao Ming, but he is fading. []
  5. I always think that a classroom needs a certain amount of enthusiasm, and if they don’t want to provide it I can. Yang Zhu would say I was wrong here, I suppose. []

11/1/2013

Extra syllabus blogging -Guan Yu meets Qiu Jin on the internet

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 8:12 am Print

Bonus syllabus blogging!1 Since I have received some really good advice about how to teach my classes from yunz, I thought I would try again. This is not a class I am actually going to teach next semester, or ever. It is a model syllabus for teaching a dual level (graduate/undergraduate) course that will be taught on line. We need a sample syllabus to get the on-line approval from the university.2 I tried to come up with something that would appeal to a broad range of students and work well as an on-line class. Any suggestions on the viability of the class or the on-line elements would be welcome. I was thinking of doing it mainly as a reading/discussion type class with the discussion taking place in a threaded discussion group.

History 481/581

Heroism and History in China

The-Woman-Knight-of-Mirror-Lake-20111

From the assassin Jing Ke to the Monkey King (who defeated the enemies of the Buddha with an iron rod) to the Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (pictured above) to the model Communist Lei Feng Chinese history has been full of heroes. Emulating the great people of the past was the foundation of Confucian self-cultivation, and providing models to be emulated or avoided was one of the main themes of Chinese literature and historiography. In this class we will be looking at how scholars used biography and autobiography in creating Chinese history and how ordinary Chinese used these stories of heroic men and women to understand their society.

(more…)

  1. What did you do in a past life to deserve this? []
  2. This needs a good deal of work before I actually teach it, but for a model syllabus like this I don’t need too much detail. []

10/30/2013

說曹操,曹操到

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:38 am Print

Now is the time in my Early China class when I get to the Three Kingdoms. This is usually a time some of the students have been waiting for, since they know the Three Kingdoms, having reunified China themselves, playing on hard level, as the ruler of Shu, Wei, AND Wu

68You might think that I don’t like having lots of kids come to my classes because of a video game,1 but you would be wrong. Part of it is that I like anyone who is interested in history to come to my classes and help feed my kids. A bigger part is that the Three Kingdoms types are usually pretty good. One thing that stinks about teaching Asian History is that there is not that much popular history in English that is any good.  There are a few exceptions. Next semester I will be using Toni Andrade’s The Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West which is a good book written by a fine scholar who realized that in addition to being an important part of Chinese and Asian history the story of Koxinga is also a ripping yarn that people would like to read. My Americanist colleagues have lots of stuff like this to draw on, plus some pretty serious stuff written by non-academics, plus lots of primary sources on-line. We Asianists mostly have to teach with academic stuff or rubbish about ninjas.

I bring this up because as I was looking around for an English-language translation of the biography of Cao Cao for a student I found Kongming Archives They have lots of video game stuff, but also English-language translations of the biographies from 三國志! They don’t look too bad either. I suspect that as Americans get more interested in China (and the internet makes this stuff easier to find) there will be more and more of these type of things.

For an explanation of the post title go here

 

 

 

  1. yes, the card is not from the video game []

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