Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

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Book Review, Resources

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

BY KATHERINE BOO NEW YORK: RANDOMHOUSE, 2012 288 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1400067558, HARDBACK At the 2012 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Asia Conference, keynote speaker Professor Yasmeen Mohiuddin concluded that India’s greatest challenge in the future is to spread its concentrated wealth among more of its citizens. Katherine Boo’s nonfiction book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, portrays that challenge in heart-wrenching detail. This is an excellent read for high school and college stud...

Book Review, Resources

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

BY BLAINE HARDEN NEW YORK: VIKING, 2012 224 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0670023325, HARDBACK This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in North Korea and in human rights issues. It joins Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang and Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy as among the most engaging and insightful accounts of life in that secretive country. Escape From Camp 14 is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known inmate in North Korea’s “total control” p...

Book Review, Resources

Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectibles

BY RONALD KNAPP TUTTLE PUBLISHING, 2011 144 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0804841870, HARDCOVER Defining culture through a collection of objects is a challenging task. How are history, aesthetics, technology, and belief systems revealed in a sampling of material artifacts? How many and what objects are required to tell such a story? In a handsomely designed compendium of things Chinese, cultural geographer Ronald G. Knapp has selected and explained sixty items that together exhibit a distinct sense of ...

Book Review, Resources

Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia

BY THOMAS DAVID DUBOIS CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITYPRESS, 2011 272 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1107008090, HARDBACK Undoubtedly, the vast majority of surviving art produced in both the Western world and Asia in the past millennia has been religious in subject. From an art historical perspective, the significant role religions play in shaping the creative visual expression of cultures is obvious. Historians more often tend to view history from political, economic, military, and, in recent years, social perspec...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Waxen Wings: The Acta Koreana Anthology of Short Fiction from Korea

BRUCE FULTON, EDITOR ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, KORYO PRESS, 2011 250 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1597432030, PAPERBACK As a teacher of world literature to high school seniors, I have experimented with many works in translation, attempting to introduce unfamiliar cultures through story. When the references are too vague or the background too intimidating, students close the book before they give the literature (and sometimes the culture) a chance. That is why Waxen Wings is a welcome work. While Korean reader...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

Elliot Carlson’s Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway is a literary masterpiece. This is a long overdue biography of an individual who helped shape the events of the Pacific War following Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor. It is not a light read, as each of the 456 pages is packed with first-rate research and brilliant analysis. Carlson’s online audio and video descriptions of his book are helpful for teachers and the general reader. But for thi...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Korean Politics through Cinema

Korean studies in the US have experienced a tremendous growth over the last decade in undergraduate institutions, as well as in some high schools. The numerical surge of Korean heritage students interested in learning their cultural background, the rising popularity of pop culture originating from South Korea, the frequency of North Korea appearing in the media headlines, and the aggressive expansion of funding by the Korean government may have all contributed to the enlarged visibility of Korea...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Wheelwright and the Butcher: Master Zhuang’s Recipe for Mindful Living

Some years ago, I was taking a stroll through a museum in the town of Tainan, the old capital of the island of Taiwan. In one room, I came across a large cart wheel carved out of solid wood (see photo). It was about five feet in diameter and consisted of three separate pieces joined together. Most people probably would not have been overly excited to see such a mundane artifact, but I was immediately struck by this wheel because it answered a question that had long rattled at the back of my mind...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Modern Chinese History: An Interview with Key Issues Author, David Kenley

In addition to being the most populous country, China is projected to surpass the United States in gross domestic product within a few years. It has a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and wields tremendous “soft power” throughout the world. For these and other reasons, Americans are fascinated with China. Yet this fascination remains tempered by fear and ignorance. Modern Chinese History is not designed specifically to alter American attitudes toward China, but it does p...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

“Confucius in East Asia”: An Interview with “Key Issues” author, Jeffrey L. Richey

Confucius in East Asia introduces fundamental patterns of East Asian history, spirituality, society, and politics through the lens of Confucianism’s development and impact in the region. For millennia, no East Asian regime has governed independently of Confucian influence; and even when Confucius and his tradition have been criticized or condemned, as has often been the case during the past century or so, they have been conspicuously present in East Asian affairs. It is impossible to understan...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

“The Story of Viet Nam: From Prehistory to the Present”: An Interview with “Key Issues” Author, Shelton Woods

The Story of Việt Nam is an overview of Việt Nam’s history from the first days of village life along the Red River in the north to the rise of the modern mega metropolis of the south’s Hồ Chí Minh City. As the title suggests, the book is a tale—a narrative that is built around four themes: land and freedom, persistence of cultural values, shifting tides of global interests in Việt Nam, and the vital role Việt Nam will play in shaping the twenty-first century....

Resources, Web Gleanings

Website Resources: Asian Visual and Performing Arts, Part II

VISUAL ARTS ASIA, GENERAL Art of Asia Home Page URL: http://www.mfa.org/collections/asia The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has a noteworthy collection of Asian art. Their site has hundreds of images from the collection. The focus is Chinese and Japanese works of art, including paintings and prints. The images are easily accessible through the links at the bottom of the home page. Asia Contemporary Art Show URL: http://www.asiacontemporaryart.com/gallery/ Over fifty art galleries have...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Engaging Inner-City Students in East Asian Studies: Martial Arts, Warriors, and Gender

For the past two years, I have taught high school students from urban schools in Chicago that were targeted by the University of Illinois at Chicago as a part of the Transforming Roadblocks into Opportunities (TRiO)Academic Support Program. Students who come from low-income families, families with no college graduates, or who are individuals with learning disabilities can participate in the program and may bring their brothers and sisters. My students are African-American and Hispanic, and the h...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

What Is Teachable about Japanese Tea Practice?

The Japanese art known as the “way of tea” (chadō or chanoyu—often translated into English as the slightly misleading “tea ceremony”) is the highly stylized and artistically nuanced preparation of matcha (powdered green tea), often in a tearoom or freestanding structure specifically designed for that purpose. (note 1) While the consumption of tea in Japan began as a largely aristocratic activity during the twelfth century, by the sixteenth century, tea drinking had matured into a high...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Calligraphy as a Resource in the East Asian Studies Curriculum

Brush calligraphy, a fundamentally intercultural and interdisciplinary art form, can be extremely useful as a teaching tool in K-12 and undergraduate education about East Asia. The complexity of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writing systems presents language instructors with formidable tasks in developing student literacy skills. For many students, however, the writing system is the major factor of their appeal. Though brush calligraphy in its sophisticated forms requires considerable traini...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Water Puppetry in Vietnam: An Ancient Tradition in a Modern World

Water Puppetry in Vietnam An Ancient Tradition in a Modern World PRODUCED BY SAM PECK 31 MINUTES, COLOR BERKELEY MEDIA LLC, 2012 Water  puppetry arose in the Red River delta and other rice-growing regions of northern Việt Nam a thousand years ago, during the Lý dynasty. Villagers staged water puppet performances to celebrate the end of the rice harvest, at religious festivals, and simply for entertainment. Today, watching a performance of this unique folk art has come to be mandatory fo...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The I Ching: A Biography

The I Ching A Biography BY RICHARD J. SMITH PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2012 278 PAGES, ISBN 978-0691145099, HARDCOVER Author’s note: Smith uses the Wade-Giles spelling of “I Ching” in the title of his book, but uses the Pinyin “Yijing” in the text of the book. He includes a note about why he does this, and I will follow his choice in this review. Richard J. Smith’s The I Ching: A Biography is a concise and well-written guide to the historical development and cultu...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West

Lost Colony The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West BY TONIO ANDRADE PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 456 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0691144559, HARDBACK In Lost Colony, Tonio Andrade offers a highly readable account of the Sino-Dutch War of 1661–62 that resulted in the loss of the Dutch colony on Taiwan, which will be of great use for educators, their students, and general readers. Andrade treats the war as a case study to test competing explanations ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan, and Lotus Moon: The Poetry of Rengetsu

Between the Floating Mist Poems of Ryōkan TRANSLATED BY DENNIS MALONEY AND HIDEO SHIRO BUFFALO, NY: WHITE PINE PRESS, 2009 96 PAGES, ISBN 978-1935210054, PAPERBACK Lotus Moon The Poetry of Rengetsu TRANSLATED BY JOHN STEVENS BUFFALO, NY: WHITEPINEPRESS, 2005 130 PAGES, ISBN 978-1893996366, PAPERBACK In addition to its importance as a major world religion, Buddhism has produced one of the longest-running, most multifaceted, and brilliantly textured literary culture...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Values Lesson Plan: How Currency Reveals Cultural Values

King Sejong is the most well-known and celebrated ruler in Korean history. Even though he lived more than 500 years ago, the Korean people continue to honor him for his relentless efforts to improve the lives of the common people. He governed with compassion and wisdom and led Korea into a golden age of cultural and scientific progress. In his youth, Sejong became known as “the reading prince” and began his lifelong quest to learn everything he could about the world around him. At the age...