Covid willing and the creek don’t rise we will start the semester in person four days from now.
One problem I always have will upper-level Asian history classes is getting majors to sign up for them. Not the Asian Studies majors, or the weirdos who like Asian history, the regular history majors. I have heard plenty of variations on “I can’t take your Modern China class. I don’t know anything about Chinese history.” My reaction is usually something along the lines of “Don’t believe what everyone says, you will actually learn something about Modern China in my class. Honest.”
This student attitude actually makes a lot of sense.
-We don’t have any Asian American students who would have a personal connection to this history (Coal strikes in Pennsylvania yes, China, no. )
-These are mostly topics they have never heard about in high school or World Civ in college.1 So there are not a lot of kids who want to know more about the Taiping rebellion or Taisho cafe waitresses because of what they learned before.
This last one is a real problem. A history class is a lot easier and better if you have some idea what might be coming next. In the past I have dealt with this by having them read the Modern Japan or whatever chapters from a World History text. This of course works better if you have them write something about the text, so this semester they will be pairing up and choosing terms from each of the chapters and then having them write short encyclopedia entries on two of the terms their partner selected. Ideally this should get them to engage with the text a bit and also learn something about the advantages and pitfalls of doing research via wikipedia (The place they should start) and how to go beyond that. We will see how it works, and I will ask them what they thought of the assignment afterwards.Encyclopedia entry assignment.332.s22
We are maybe introducing this, but to date we have not done so yet. ↩