Japanese culture essay

Summary:

Paper Assignment: Comparing Images or Studies of Japan

Your task in the paper for this course is to compare and contrast the images of contemporary Japanese society put forth in two of our readings: Sacred Cesium Ground, and either Dower, Leheny, Hopson, Tamura, Koide and Field, Kunimoto, or Siniawer.

In the previous assignment, you were required to use a text in order to tell us something about Japan during a certain time period. Now you are going to be dealing with two texts that are both commenting in some way on the same thing (Japan). So your task will be harder, because they may not agree with each other. So you will have to evaluate your sources. Figure out how they make their arguments, what their methodologies encourage/ lead them to do to go about their own projects, and who they are writing to and for. So this time, it is not enough to examine what the texts say about Japan. If the texts have a disagreement, you have to say why one understanding is preferable, but even if the texts do not disagree, you must still examine the way they arrive at their conclusions. Is one a stronger argument than the other? Does one argument have a weak spot that the other one nicely (even if unintentionally) fills? 

(1st Note: You must use Sacred Cesium Ground as one of your sources. 2nd Note: Even though Tamura’s short story is fiction and was published in the 1920’s, many people had the feeling that it was quite contemporary (like it could have been written today), so you may use it as if it were an image of contemporary Japan.)

You may discuss any aspect of the images the two works convey, but you should include an analysis of the ways the authors’ different methodologies (intellectual history / fiction vs. anthropology) shape their visions of Japan. Take into account the discourse on identity in Japan—including when the authors treat the way Japanese people speak to themselves about themselves as against how they project ideas about Japan to the outside. Focus on how Allison or the others write (analysis), rather than what they write (summary). Tell how they shaped their arguments, or used some evidence, or played off other images. Bear in mind that to critique is not the same thing as to criticize.

Your paper should be approximately four pages (at 300 words per page—1200 words) and be neatly typed in double space. Follow conventions such as italicizing book titles and Japanese terms (names and places should not be italicized). It is not necessary to use a cover sheet or fancy binder, but do staple your paper. Do not put your name on each page or the front page, so that we can read more objectively.

Organize your paper well, with an introduction of the thesis, paragraphs that each express a main idea in the development of the thesis, and a conclusion that is not simply a restatement. Your paper must have a thesis, and it must have a title. You must argue for something, not simply recite facts or interpretations. Revise your paper. Double-check any quotations for accuracy. 

You may draw on information from lectures, sections, and readings (including Henshall) to provide context, but this is not a research assignment. Close attention to the texts is most important. It is not necessary or even desirable to use secondary sources, but if you do, give proper credit. Lack of citation, incorrect, and incomplete citation are all forms of plagiarism. (Exception—you do not need to footnote statements made in lectures, since these constitute general knowledge for this community.)

Any research you choose to do must rely on academic journals or books, or academic sources on the Internet prepared by bona fide scholars of Japan (not Wikipedia or other encyclopedias). 

Remember to write your paper for an interested, but uninformed audience, not your instructors (this means include definitions, dates, etc.). Draft your paper as early as you can; you may want to show the draft to fellow class members or consult Critical Writing Center staff. 

The authors of three of the four possible works are still alive, but unless you talk to them (which you are totally welcome to do), avoid implying that you have peeked into the author’s brain.

Base your argument on evidence and examples. Be sure to focus on concrete details. It is better to use fewer pieces of evidence with more attention to implications and interconnections of what you use. Of course, if there is something in another part of your work that contradicts your argument, then you must account for it. N.B. It is not your task to simply repeat information in the texts. Analyze it.

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