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 ...

Teaching Resources Essay

Finding Quiet within the Noise: How Japanese Traditions Can Help Today’s Students

Mindfulness has become trendy around the world in recent years— but in Japan, it’s been ingrained into the culture for centuries. —BBC Travel Contemporary society is beset with physical and digital noise. News media supply a never-ending stream of sensational stories. Cellphones, computers, and video games distract teen and adults constantly, and almost unlimited access to one another through social media sites only increases tensions between and among individuals. It is almost impossi...

Feature Article

History and Sustainability of Bunraku, the Japanese Puppet Theater

As governor of Osaka Prefecture, and later mayor of Osaka city, Tōru Hashimoto was faced with significant debt accruing from annual budget deficits. To address this, he assertively promoted competition, private business, and reduction of public funding for the arts. He felt strongly that “what users don’t choose basically shouldn’t be pro­vided” and, accordingly, believed that arts organizations such as the Osaka Symphony Orchestra and National Bunraku Theater should be self-sup­porti...

Feature Article

Cutting-Edge Samurai Theater: Noh Then, Noh Now, Noh Tomorrow

Noh is the sung, danced, masked dramatic form of Japan. The performers depict stories where the shite, the main masked actor, interacts with the waki, a side actor, and the kyogen, an interlude performer. A Noh stage is a roofed pavilion (even indoors) that has an entry bridgeway and a back wall with a painted pine tree. The orchestra consists of two or three drummers and a flute player at the back of the stage in full view during performance, along with an eight-member chorus that sits to the s...

Feature Article

Walk Like a Samurai: Using Japanese Performing and Martial Arts to Teach Historical Inquiry

In his Winter 2010 EAA article, “Can Samurai Teach Critical Thinking? Primary Sources in the Classroom,” Ethan Segal offers several constructive methods to help students discern truth from fiction regarding the historical samurai. Woodblock prints of Saigō Takamori garbed in Western military uniform; images from the Mongol Invasion Scrolls depicting the disorderly chaos of samurai warfare; and the historical fiction of The Tale of the Heike, which for centuries passed as historical fact, al...

Online Supplement

“Beyond Cultural Tourism: Experiencing the Arts in Bali” Syllabus

The cooperating overseas agency is the Traditional Dance and Music Studio, Sanggar Manik Galih, in Tabanan, Bali. The program is in response to Americans’ growing awareness of Southeast Asian cultures in general and of the unique Balinese arts and their functions in traditional and modern-day Balinese society in particular. Music, dance, and theater along with art and crafts are important parts of Balinese culture. The ceremonial nature of the arts reflects the multiple layers of religious pra...

Online Supplement

Beyond Cultural Tourism: Experiencing the Arts in Bali

Music, dance, theater, and arts and crafts are important parts of Balinese culture. Their ceremonial nature reflects the multiple layers of Balinese Hindu religious practices and philosophies within the complex social-cultural structure of Balinese society. The inseparable relationships among these arts provide a vivid soundscape and landscape for students to experience the functions of arts in a living environment. Since the early twentieth century, Bali has been staged for the consumption of c...

Online Supplement

“Shadow R & J and The Girl Who Flew: Introducing Asia through Theater in an Interdisciplinary Honors Program” Syllabus

Since Aristophanes wrote the first “anti-war” plays for Athenian audiences attending the Dionysian Festivals around 400 B.C., theatre has frequently been created in the name of social justice. Using Aristophanes as its starting place, the first half of this course draws upon dramatic literature and theatre history to provide a broad context for the use (and abuse) of theatre and performance in the name of social change. The second half of the course will be devoted to the creation of our own...

Online Supplement

“Shadow R & J” and “The Girl Who Flew”: Introducing Asia through Theater in an Interdisciplinary Honors Program

Readers of Education About Asia who have no background in Asian theater should take heart that they, too, can incorporate Asian theater as a tool for teaching about Asia. The caveat is that when one adopts a form of theater that traditionally takes decades to master, one must openly embrace ignorance, value hybridity, and measure success not in terms of whether students have rendered a style authentically, but whether they have captured some spirit of a particular style in order to tell the stor...

Online Supplement

“Cutting-Edge Samurai Theatre: Noh Then, Noh Now, Noh Tomorrow” by Matthew R. Dubroff and “In the Noh: Using Samurai Theater in the History Classroom” by Eric G. Dinmore Syllabi

This two-semester seminar for entering freshmen in the Honors Program will trace the rise and fall of the samurai in Japan, as well as the distinct impact these warriors left on Japanese and global culture. We will draw from a range of academic disciplines, including history, literary criticism, theater studies, religion, and the visual arts. This fall, we will focus on the historical transformation of the samurai from loosely-knit bands of provincial warriors to a powerful political elite. In t...

Online Supplement

Walk Like a Samurai Using Japanese: Performing and Martial Arts to Teach Historical Inquiry Syllabus

This course will introduce students to the history of Japan from earliest times to 1600, including the Classical, Medieval, and Warring States eras. Traditional Japan lays the foundation needed for a richer understanding and appreciation of Modern Japan, offered the following semester. Students are encouraged (though not required) to enroll in courses sequentially. Readings and discussions will focus on politics, culture, religion, and social life in premodern Japan. All readings are in English....

Feature Article

In the Noh: Using Samurai Theater in the History Classroom

I teach Japanese and East Asian history at a 240-year-old, all-male liberal arts college known as an institution where the Old South lives on and students revere Virginia’s military heritage. Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular seminar topics I have offered over my nine-year career at Hampden-Sydney College has been Warrior Culture in Japanese History. As I developed my approach to the topic, I profited from reading Ethan Segal’s Winter 2010 article in this journal, “Can Samurai Teach ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Lion’s Roar in Taiwan: Genealogy of a Traditional Dance

The colorfully dynamic spectacle of the Lion Dance is now a seemingly requisite part of celebratory events in Chinese communities around the world. Documentary evidence for the performance of dances featuring lions can be traced back over a thousand years. But since lions have never been a part of China’s natural environment, how did they come to be such iconic inhabitants of the Chinese cultural landscape? In this article, I will focus on changes and developments in the Lion Dance in response...

Feature Article

The Qin: China’s Most Revered Musical Instrument

China is home to numerous distinctively Chinese musical instruments, but none is more revered than the qin (pronounced something like the English word “chin” and sometimes written “ch’in”). The instrument’s name is often translated as “Chinese lute” or “ancient lute” (guqin). The qin is associated with the elite class of scholar-officials of imperial China, and it boasts a history of thousands of years. Men of rank and privilege learned to play the qin primarily as a means of...

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...

Film Review Essay, Resources

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

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 for tourists to Việt Nam, where water puppet shows are often held at sophisticated theaters in major cities, such as Hanoi. Troupes ha...

Online Supplement

Emily of Emerald Hill: A Reaffirmation of Peranakan Culture

Stella Kon’s Emily of Emerald Hill is one of Singapore’s most enduring plays. Written in English and interspersed with Singlish (colloquially spoken English) expressions, this one-woman play recounts Emily’s life in the 1950s. Through her memories, the audience learns about the life, culture, and traditions of the Peranakans, a group of overseas Chinese long-resident in Penang and Malacca, who adopted Malay language and culture. Known variously as Babas, Straits Chinese, Melaka Men, and Pe...

Online Supplement

Links to Internet Materials to accompany the feature article “The Qin: China’s Most Revered Musical Instrument”

INTRODUCTION TO THE QIN. UNESCO‘s intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity site includes a short description of the Qin, photographs, and a brief video (just over four minutes) narrated in English. the music includes singing with the qin, and some strains of yang Guan san Die are heard in the background. Playing techniques and some of the symbolism involved in the Qin’s construction are also discussed. url: http://tiny.cc/p7cksw

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.

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. 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 highly codifi...

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