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Teaching with Embracing Defeat: Notes from a Humanities Teacher

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I was a bit apprehensive on the first day of spring term, 2000. Eight seniors had signed up for a new humanities elective I was offering on postwar Japan. I knew what most of these students were thinking: spring term, senior year, already have college plans decided, new course . … how much work am I going to have to do? I knew what was worrying me: their reaction when I gave them the reading list on the first day of class. What would happen when I held up my 600-page, hardcover edition of John Dower’s Embracing Defeat? The size of the book alone is intimidating; why, it just might occupy more of a senior’s spring term backpack than he or she cared to devote to academic paraphernalia!