I’m teaching my Japan Since 1700 course next semester for the first time. I’ve taught Japan since 1800 and 1868; I’ve taught Japan 1600-1900 and 20c Japan. I have two issues which are bugging me as I put in my (late, I know) book orders: Textbook and the 18th century:
Both the Gordon and McClain Modern History textbooks start in 1800 (and that only so they can get some context in before the bakumatsu), so they’re not ideal, but I may have to pick one.1 I have the Totman tome at home, and I’ll look at it later, but I remember it being immense and probably more frightening than helpful for undergraduates. Any thoughts?
I’ve got a solid collection of readings for the 19th and 20th centuries — mostly stuff I’ve used before, including Fukuzawa, Shiba Goro, Reflections on the Way to the Gallows, Cook & Cook, Haruko’s World, that sort of thing — but I’ve not assigned anything specifically for the 18th century before. When I last did the Tokugawa-Meiji course, I used Shirane’s Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900, but I really wasn’t terribly happy with it and it’s quite inappropriate for this course.
There’s the old standby — Chushingura — which is still serviceable. There’s Hanley’s Everyday Things in Premodern Japan: The Hidden Legacy of Material Culture but that’s got more focus on the 19th century than I’d like for this. But I’m still looking for something — either primary or secondary — which gives them a good look at the texture of life in the 18th century (early or middle, preferably). T.C. Smith’s The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan seems a bit dense, but it might be OK. Again, any nominations or voices of experience would be most welcome!
- There’s also the shorter Duus text, and I like the writing and conciseness of it, but I also want something that takes better advantage of the work that’s been done in the last fifteen years. Also, it’s more expensive than either the Gordon or McClain, despite being shorter and older. [↩]