Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Outside the Box Teaching East Asian History with Multimedia Approaches, Technological Artifacts, and Performative Activities

Filmmaking as a Way to Learn East Asian History By Paul G. Pickowicz In the 1980s, I became extremely interested in the use of visual sources in the study of modern Chinese history. Very little was known about the history of feature filmmaking in China. After spending a year at the Film Archive of China in 1982–1983, I became convinced that Chinese-made films provide unique insights into the social, cultural, and political history of China—information about popular culture that can not be ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Dead Souls

Dead Souls Produced and Directed by Wang Bing Grasshopper Film and Icarus Films, 2018 DVD, 3 discs, 8 hours, 15 minutes, Color Mandarin / English subtitles Jiabiangou lies on the edge of the Gobi Desert near the city of Jiuquan, in the northwest pocket of China’s Gansu Province. Today, the region is home to China’s premier satellite launch center, but from 1957 to 1961, it was the nucleus of a labor camp complex in which more than 80 percent of the prisoners died, mostly of starvation. ...

Feature Article

Sports and Indian Culture in Popular Film

India is more likely to be associated with Bollywood film culture than sports. So what does the largest film industry in the world, in terms of output, tell us about sports? And what is the place of sports in the national culture? Of the six films selected here (available through online retail stores such as Amazon) to answer these questions, two deal with cricket, two are biopics about Olympian athletes in track and field and boxing, and the other two deal with hockey and soccer. Half these fil...

Feature Article

Teaching India’s History and Contemporary Society Through Film

Indian films, traditionally known as Hindi films but today more commonly referred to as “Bollywood” films, named in honor of Bombay (Mumbai today), offer a wonderful opportunity to teach students about the history and culture of India and South Asia. There are dozens of movies about Indian historical subjects and cultural issues that are accessible to American students. Many of the movies are typical Bollywood fare that include lots of upbeat songs and dancing. However, some, especially of l...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement

Shifting Gender Roles in Postwar Japan: The On-Screen Life of Actress Hara Setsuko

Hara Setsuko (born Aida Masae, 1920) is one of Japan’s most admired actresses from its golden age of cinema. During her twenty-eight-year career, spanning the mid-1930s to early 1960s, she appeared in over one hundred feature films. Best known for her portrayals of ordinary, middle-class women, Hara’s performances were anything but ordinary. With large, expressive eyes and striking features, her unforgettable depictions of women from all stages of life, including daughters, wives, mothers an...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful

“Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful” is not only the essence of the art and sport of judo, but a clear six-word biographical description of the life of Fukuda Keiko, AKA Mrs. Judo. The only woman in judo’s history (since 1882) to achieve the difficult tenth-degree black belt, Fukuda’s life is not only the story of achievement in a sport, but the struggle to overcome tradition and sexism. Japan’s men expected their wives to be at home each evening, when judo classes were taught. But Fuk...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Teaching Post-Mao China: Two Classic Films

Introduction The Story of Qiu Ju and Beijing Bicycle are two films that have been used in classrooms since they were produced (1992 and 2001, respectively). Today, these films are still relevant to high school and undergraduate students studying history, literature, and related courses about China, as they offer a picture of the grand scale of societal change that has happened in China in recent decades. Both films illustrate contemporary China and the dichotomy between urban and rural life the...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

My Favorite Asia-Related Digital Media: Korean and Japanese Films

My Sassy Girl Directed By KWAKJAE-YONG Produced By SHIN CHUL CINEMA SERVICE DVD, 123 MINUTES, 2001 Pingu-Pongu (Ping Pong) Directed By FUMIHIKO SORI Produced By TAMOTSUSHIINA (AND OTHERS) ASMIK ACE ENTERTAINMENT, TBS DVD, 114 MINUTES, 2002 “I believe . . . When you are not with me there are no stars in the sky. I believe . . . The way back to you will feel a little far. . . . I’ll be waiting. I do it for you.” These words, translated from the theme song “I Believe” from...

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...

Feature Article

Teaching Chinese History and Culture through Film

For many of my students, China is a faceless, distant land. Others who teach undergraduates indicate that their students view China as an economic or national security threat. I have found the use of film in teaching about China to be most useful in giving students different perspectives on China than those directly connected with either economics or national security.  However, in my first attempts to show Chinese films in world history classes or other courses, I encountered resistance. Stude...

Film Review, Resources

Can’t Go Native?

PRODUCED, DESIGNED, AND EDITED BY DAVID W. PLATH MEDIA PRODUCTION GROUP ASIAN EDUCATIONAL MEDIA SERVICE DVD, 56 MINUTES, 2010 Reviewed by David Huebner Can’t Go Native? is the intriguing and very personalized account of American anthropologist Keith Brown’s long relationship with the Japanese people. As a graduate student in 1961, Brown visited Japan for doctoral research. He fell in love with Japan and her peoples, culture, and customs. Brown’s numerous trips to Japan are chronicled ...

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau was produced, written, and directed by John Liu, an American and former CBS cameraman, who has been living in China for the past twenty-five years. It tells the amazing story of how scientists, working in collaboration with local farmers in one of the most eroded places on the planet, reversed thousands of years of environmental degradation perpetrated by the combined actions of humans and nature....

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Road Ahead: The First Green Long March

The Road Ahead: The First Green Long March depicts the birth of a grassroots environmental youth movement by civic-minded young people in China. What does it mean to be civic-minded in twenty-first century China? How do citizens create social change from the bottom up in a state ontrolled society? What are the risks? These are just some of the questions I would discuss with my students before presenting the film....

Columns, Film Review Essay

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Japan’s official state anthem, Kimigayo, is about as sing-able as the Star Spangled Banner. The tuneful anthem of modern Japanese culture heard endlessly everywhere in the archipelago, is Hotaru no Hikari, “Firefly Light,” emblem of evanescence, token of passions passing. For most Japanese I know, environmental tragedy is not the waning supply of overpriced, overhyped whale flesh but the decline and fall of Tokyo as a firefly habitat....

Columns, Film Review Essay

Shugendo Now

DIRECTED BY JEAN-MARC ABELA JEAN-MARC ABELA AND MARC PATRICK MCGUIRE, PRODUCERS EMPOWER PICTURES, 2009 88 MINUTES, ENGLISH SUBTITLES, DVD Reviewed by William Londo As the title of this documentary suggests, Shugendō Now examines the state of Shugendō practice today as practiced by both professional practitioners, known as yamabushi, and ordinary Japanese people. The film begins by explaining that yamabushi are those who enter the mountain to seek experiential truth. They perform austeri...

Feature Article

Teaching East Asian Religions through Literature and Film

This essay argues that texts (including films) ordinarily regarded  as “secular”—as fiction rather than “scripture”—have functioned as sacred texts in traditional East Asian cultures, and to some extent, still do today. While it is true that Chinese, Korean, and Japanese authors and film makers have brought their own individual experiences and creative visions to their work, it is also true the world over that “no important work can ever be the expression of a purely individual ex...

Columns, EAA Interview

Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization: A Brief Interview with William M. Tsutsui

William M. Tsutsui is Professor of History and Dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Previously he taught for seventeen years at the University of Kansas. He is the author or editor of six books, including Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan (Princeton University Press, 1998) and Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Professor Tsutsui’s most recent ...

Film Review Essay

Up the Yangtze

Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang’s documentary Up the Yangtze is not easy to watch. Like the story it tells, the film is unsettling with the wrenching change it portrays. Chang follows two Chinese young people, Yu Shui and Chen Boyu, as they embark on new jobs with a “Farewell Cruise” company on China’s Yangtze River....

Feature Article, Film Review Essay

YMCA Yagudan: (YMCA Baseball Team)

Although much that is written about Korean popular culture has revolved around Korean television drama, pop music, and film, a less explored arena is the relationship between sports and popular culture and history and popular culture. The film YMCA Baseball Team, a historical drama, presents the arrival of baseball in Korea in 1905 by showing how Koreans encountered and learned to play this new sport. Humor and physical comedy are used to highlight the ways in which Koreans learned about the new...

Feature Article

Bring Korean Films into the Classroom

"Teachers exposed to Korean history and culture often want to learn more. Most teachers are amazed that Koreans not only invented metal movable type before Gutenberg, but also the world’s first iron-clad ship, known as a “Turtle Ship.” The beauty of ancient palaces, the spirituality of Buddhist sculpture, and the technical achievements of Koryŏ celadon potters inspire educators to learn more so they will be better able to teach about Asia. They will discover that the Silk Road did not end...

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