井の中の蛙

1/21/2007

Trying not to whine….

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 3:45 am

It’s syllabus time here at FrogInAWell. I’ve got a bit of an overload this semester, and I’m trying to be really good-humored about it, but I suspect that the mid-semester crunch is going to strain my acting abilities. I got dragooned into teaching a course in our graduate program, our US-China Masters degree (no, they haven’t built the dorms yet, either), but the History department really can’t give me a release to go do something in another course, so I’m teaching it as an overload. Then my seminar on Meiji Japan came in under the limit for enrollment, so it was decided to drop it and have me teach a second section of World History; more grading, but it means one less course prep, so I said OK. It would have ended there — three preps, four sections — but a few of the students who had registered for the Meiji course actually need it (or something like it) to graduate, so I agreed to tutor them through the course as a directed study. So I’m up to the functional equivalent of five sections of four preparations.

My Early Japan course (pre-1600) is very similar to the last iteration, with the biggest difference being the addition of Mary Elizabeth Berry’s Culture of Civil War in Kyoto as a capstone reading. It’ll be a challenge, but it’s the kind of secondary scholarship I love: richly detailed with primary materials, with a kind of “core sample” approach that gives a taste of what’s going on from the highest to lowest levels of society. The Meiji Japan course is mostly material that I’ve read over the years…. except for Donald Keene’s biography of the Meiji Emperor — I think “magisterial” is the only word we’re permitted to use to refer to books of that magnitude — which I’m really looking forward to seeing students respond to. If my dedicated directed study kids can handle it, it might work in actual classes.

Finally, there’s my China course, the first time I’ve ever gotten to teach a “what’s happening now” instead of a historical syllabus, not to mention my first graduate course. It’s fun! I did have to do some scrambling on readings, though, including one I just picked up in Atlanta. On the other hand, any news articles on China that come out in the next three months are classroom fodder.

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