Japanese culture essay
1. Topic: Tales of the Heike, about Sanemori, Kiso, Atsumori and Charge Down Hiyodori Ravine (l2c. events in 14c. text)
2. Reflect on how the different Japanologists you’ve read in this course, working from their various disciplinary perspectives, have discussed the texts they treat. How does an Itō, a Fawcett, a Ferris, a Lie, a Sugimoto, or a Batten come up with arguments? When are they more persuasive to you as reader?
3. Ask yourself some pointed questions about the piece you have chosen.
a. What does the text tell us about Japanese civilization? Consider both direct and indirect evidence. (Assume that the writer believes what he or she is saying, unless it is clearly satire.)
b. Using what you have learned in class, factor in the social background of the author and readership. Who was the audience for this text? What does the text tell us about the attitudes and allegiances of the person who produced it? What constraints was the producer subject to, and how do these elements affect the attempt at communication that the text represents?
c. Closely consider the type of material, narrative, or characterization the text presents. Is there an aesthetic appeal? How does the author manipulate details? What does that say about her or his perspective? About the way he or she hopes the audience will respond?
4. After analyzing the text, choose a main point that you would like to argue about some picture of Japanese civilization that the text provides, and organize your supporting ideas. Write after consulting the requirements and suggestions below.
5. Revise your paper. Double-check any quotations for accuracy.
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.
You may draw on information from lectures, sections, and readings to provide context, but this is not a research assignment. Close attention to the text is most important. Aim to interpret the text on its own terms. List full bibliographic information for the document you use at the end of your paper (bottom of the page is fine). It is not necessary to use secondary sources, but if you do, give proper credit. Lack of citation, incorrect, and incomplete citation are all forms of plagiarism.
Any research you choose to do must rely on academic journals or books, or academic sources on the Internet prepared by bona fide Japanologists (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 Critical Writing Center staff.
Focus on how the author writes (analysis), rather than what he or she writes (summary). Tell how the author organized the material, or used some evidence, or included other things.
Signs of how/analytic style are such phrases as “mindful of the audience,” “in a contradictory move,” “using inflammatory rhetoric such as,” “arguing counter-factually,” “by way of this example,” “with an eye to potential counter-arguments,” etc. If you find words or statements to be “normative,” “serious,” “objective,” “moving,” “uninformed,” “over-generalizing,” “tendentious,” “ethnocentric,” etc., tell us “how” or “why” they seem this way, and to whom. It is not necessary to “know” that the author intended the meanings that you uncover–you are dealing with the document as it exists, using clues that you find.
Signs of what/summary style are the phrases “the author said,” “the author tells us,” “the article reports,” etc. You are also doing “what” style if you paraphrase the author’s argument and then, at the end of the paragraph, conclude “this means that” or “this is because.” Analysis works best point-by-point, with specific details of how the effect is achieved, or why you conclude certain choices were made.
Until certain kinds of technology improve, it is not possible to meet a dead author and ask what he or she was thinking. The “author” of which we speak is an effect that the text itself creates for (and with) us as we read. Avoid implying that you have peeked into the author’s brain.
Your paper must have a thesis, and it must have a title. You must argue for something, not simply recite facts or interpretations.
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. N.B. It is not your task to simply repeat information in the text. Analyze it.