Education About Asia

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

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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...

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

“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

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...

Online Supplement

Audio and Performance Samples to accompany the feature article “A Tour of Music Cultures in South Asia: Classical and Devotional Music”

Listed below are the audio and performance examples of the music discussed in “A Tour of Music Cultures in South Asia” from the Spring 2013 (vol. 18, no. 1) issue of Education About Asia....

Feature Article

A Tour of Music Cultures in South Asia: Classical and Devotional Music

An audience of about 3,000 descends on the open-air Nazrul Manch Theater in South Kolkata (Calcutta) every winter at the Dover Lane Music Festival to hear the senior legends and the emerging stars of North Indian classical (or Hindustani) music. The crowd, made up of the urbane intellectuals of Kolkata and a good number of foreigners, is lively. Audience members move in and out of the hall for tea and snacks between performances, but every seat is filled for the senior artists who perform betwee...

Feature Article

An Environmental Ethic in Chinese Landscape Painting

Landscape painting in Western art did not develop into an important category of painting until the seventeenth century. In contrast, landscape painting in China was already a prized art form by the ninth century. (note 1) In fact, when Chinese art was systematically introduced to the West during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the prominence afforded nature—as opposed to humans— in Chinese art startled Western audiences. One reviewer of a pioneering exhibition of Chinese art at the B...

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

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...

Book Review, Resources

Sources of Vietnamese Tradition

For more than half a century students and academicians have greatly profited from the Columbia series on Sources of various Asian traditions. These include edited volumes on Japan, India, China, and Korea as well as newer editions and abridged volumes. Sources of Vietnamese Tradition, is a welcome addition to the series. In this volume, the editors masterfully created a book that is indispensable for any serious student or teacher of Việt Nam. The book includes more than 200 texts that span th...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Films of Hayao Miyazaki: Shinto, Nature, and the Environment

The films of Hayao Miyazaki are some of the most popular in Japan and the rest of the world. Perhaps his most famous work, Spirited Away, is the highest-grossing domestic film in Japanese history. (note 1) It also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. Over the past two decades, the Walt Disney Company has reissued English-language versions of Miyazaki’s films with the voice talents of such famous actors as Patrick Stewart, Claire Danes, and Billy Bob Thornton. Often, these f...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders

Asanga Tilakaratne’s Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders offers an overview of “southern Buddhism” that is both traditional and innovative, yet also problematic. Educators will find a valuable resource in its chapters that analyze central doctrines and practices. These offer apt and refreshing perspectives on Buddhism as a lived tradition for the monks and householders adhering to the dominant lineage of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia today. This book offers a correcti...

Feature Article, Focus on Korea: Korean Democratization

Early Visions of Reform and Modernity: Sirhak and Religious Movements in Choson Korea

South Korea in the twenty-first century is a very different place than it was two centuries ago. In the nineteenth century, it was an absolute monarchy. Today, South Korea is a vibrant democracy with a president and parliament selected through hotly contested elections. Two centuries ago, the Korean economy was overwhelmingly agrarian, and Korea engaged in very little foreign trade. Today, South Korea is an industrial and commercial powerhouse producing automobiles and smartphones that are in gr...

Feature Article

New York City as Classroom: Exploring Buddhism Through Experiential Learning

Experiential learning can be particularly useful when teaching about Asia, as few students in an introductory course come with much knowledge about the region’s vast history, distinct cultures, and complicated political and social structures. Nevertheless, how does an instructor provide students direct experience of Asia without planning expensive study abroad opportunities or site visits? How does an educator encourage engagement with Asia without relying entirely on guest speakers or informa...

Feature Article

Looking for Confucius at the Asian Art Museum

Students in my East Asian civilization course learn about Daoism in part by practicing Tai Chi with a credentialed Tai Chi master who brings both a saber and a sword to class for a demonstration. Our outdoors practice session produces some Daoist awareness of the natural world; many students comment later that they had heard things while practicing that they had not heard on campus before, such as the wind in the trees or birds singing. We learn about Zen Buddhism in part by practicing seated me...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Great Civilized Conversation: Education for a World Community

For over half a century, Wm. Theodore de Bary has worked as an educator engaged in the debate about the content and style of university education in the decades after the war, and as a researcher focusing on East Asian intellectual and religious traditions. At Columbia University, where he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he developed the University’s Oriental Humanities and Oriental Civilization courses, which came to parallel Columbia’s already well-established Contempor...

Book Review, Resources

A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects

This brief book is part of the Palgrave Pivot imprint, whose purpose is to provide a venue for scholars to print works of a length between the article and the monograph. Accordingly, this work is very concise at eighty-eight pages, and it is clear the author intended it to be something that one keeps by one’s side while reading the Analects of Confucius. The idea of a reader’s companion is a good one; the Analects can be very confusing for the student or novice. Containing a miscellany of sa...

Online Supplement

Further Resources to accompany the feature article “Remonstrance”

Andrew, Anita, and John Rapp. Autocracy and China’s Rebel Founding Emperors: Comparing Chairman Mao and Ming Taizu. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000. “The Confucian Tradition.” Asia for Educators. Accessed September 23, 2014. http://tinyurl.com/o52yxvb de Bary, William Theodore and Irene Bloom. Sources of Chinese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600. Volume 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Hucker, Charles O. China’s Imperial Past: An Introductio...

Feature Article

Remonstrance: The Moral Imperative of the Chinese Scholar-Official

Editor’s Note: Readers interested in this article should be aware that a paperback edition of Henry Rosemont’s A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects (Palgrave Pivot, 2012) will soon be available. A review of the work appears on page 83 of Education About Asia 19, vol. 1 (Spring 2014). Introduction This essay will offer an approach that helps instructors of survey courses in world or Chinese history to introduce the concept of remonstrance—a key component of the training, motiv...

Feature Article

Vivekananda and Okakura On What East Offers West

When will the West understand, or try to understand, the East?1 —Okakura Tenshin, The Book of Tea As the turn of the twentieth century approached, Western nations had come to control much of the globe. These powerful nations regarded themselves as comprehensively superior to the non-Western peoples over whom they ruled. Such a dual reality—Western control plus the swaggering confidence that accompanied it—created an excruciating challenge for those on the receiving end: should they e...