January 2011 CEAS Newsletter
Collaborative Course in Classical East Asian Literature
This semester East Asian Languages and Literature professors Rania Huntington and Charo D’Etcheverry have started their experiment of co-teaching a course on The Tale of Genji and The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber). The two works are important contributions to world literature, but come from two very different times and places. Below Professor Huntington reports on how the class works:
“Our first collaboration was in the context of the Supernatural Presences project, so we already knew we were compatible collaborators for organizing events and running discussions. It was on bus rides back from some of those events, when we both realized we had fantasized about teaching a Genji/Stone course on our own, but had given up the idea when we were hired at institutions that had colleagues more qualified to teach one of the novels.
The structure of the course is designed to keep the two novels in constant dialogue. The course is technically under two course rubrics, but the requirements are identical regardless of under which rubric students enroll. On Mondays we discuss selected chapters of Stone; on Friday selected chapters of Genji; and on Wednesdays, themes and questions that the two novels share. Thus the two novels will both be unfolding, in parallel, as the semester begins. This structure demands a great deal from our students, who must keep two complex and well-populated fictional worlds in mind; but it has already proved very rewarding, as reading each novel in the light of the other reveals new aspects of each.
Each of us also switches back and forth between the teacher and student role: Mondays I am in front conducting the discussion while Charo sits with the students; Fridays those roles are reversed; and Wednesdays we are both up front. A successful teacher is always also a learner, but the collaborative teaching has increased each of our own learning. We decided to try this because we sensed we have compatible teaching philosophies and styles, but we are also learning new methods and approaches from each other. Academic colleagues often do their crucial work of teaching in parallel but in isolation from one another, and co-teaching allows us to break down that isolation.
The course has attracted a large and diverse student group of Chinese majors, Japanese majors, students of Chinese heritage studying other majors, and students with no prior study of either Chinese or Japanese but strong interest in fiction. We try to conduct the course to encourage as much learning from one another as possible, with in-class group work, discussion, and an online collaborative web site.
Collaboration related to this course expands beyond the two of us and our classroom. There is also an exhibit of illustrations and visual material related to Stone at Memorial library in February and March. Professor Doris Bargen will both give a University lecture on architecture in The Tale of Genji and pay a special visit to our class.
We encourage others to try team-teaching experiments. It does not reduce workload, because the need for coordination may indeed increase it. But the rewards are also great.”
Be sure to check out Memorial Library’s exhibit entitled “Commemorating the Thirtieth Anniversary of the First International Conference on Dream of the Red Chamber”, running throughout February and March, 2011.
What CEAS Faculty are Reading: Sida Liu
"I recently read Myth of the Social Volcano: Perceptions of inequality and Distributive Injustice in Contemporary China, written by Harvard sociologist Martin King Whyte. It is the first systematic social science inquiry on the feelings of ordinary Chinese citizens toward inequalities generated during the post-Mao market reform. Using a 2004 nationwide survey of 3,267 respondents in both urban and rural areas across China, Whyte argues that the conventional view that Chinese citizens have become increasingly angry about rising social inequality in the past decade is seriously flawed. Instead, the survey results show that Chinese citizens are generally positive and optimistic about current inequalities, especially in comparison to respondents of similar surveys in other countries. Most Chinese respondents in this survey approve meritocratic market competition but also favor reducing inequality through government interventions. In the meantime, most respondents object to special privileges based on political power and to the systematic discrimination on urban migrants.
Another book I just received in the mail is China’s Emerging Middle Class: Beyond Economic Transformation, published by the Brookings Institution Press. I contributed a chapter with Ethan Michelson on Chinese lawyers in this book, so I have known its contents for a while. The “middle class” has become a hot topic in China in recent years with the economic boom, but who actually belong to this category remain ambiguous and much debatable. This book, edited by Cheng Li, the Director of Research at Brookings’s John L. Thornton China Center, is an effort to investigate on this question of social stratification. It is also a question closely related to the prospect of China’s political reform as many people believe that the rising middle class would demand more democratic governance. However, as several chapters in the books suggest, the interests of China’s new middle class are often tied to the interests of the Chinese government and it is not optimistic to expect them to become vanguards in the political reform."
The JASC Experience By Kseniya Vaynshtok
Last summer I had one of the most meaningful experiences of my life at the 62nd Japan-America Student Conference (JASC). JASC is the oldest and most prestigious student-organized and led conference between the United States and Japan. Each year approximately 70 delegates from top universities in Japan and America are selected to attend the conference and the venues alternate between the United States and Japan every year. Last year the conference took place in the U.S., between locations in Indiana, Washington D.C., New Orleans, and San Francisco. Those who will be selected for the 63rd JASC during the summer of 2011 will go to Niigata, Kyoto, Okinawa, and Tokyo, Japan.
As a delegate for JASC I had the opportunity to meet 69 other amazing students, participate in roundtable discussions, forums, and in many fun events and excursions with fellow JASCers. Some of the activities we participated in last summer included an embassy reception, a State Department briefing, and independent visits to sites in D.C, New Orleans, and San Francisco including the National Mall, Preservation Hall Jazz Club, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Half of the cultural exchange in JASC comes from the exchange of ideas and learning together, and the other half comes from forging friendships and having a good time together..
The conference is divided up into roundtable groups centered on specific topics and issues. Some of the topics last year included revitalizing education, social entrepreneurship, sustainable regionalism, and national identity. The roundtable I was part of revolved around environmental issues. Roundtable becomes a unique family within the family of JASC, in which you have the opportunity to share ideas with and learn from each other while preparing for Final Forum at the conclusion of the conference. The best part of Roundtable was the unique exchange of ideas with speakers and students who you wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to meet. JASC brings together students from all academic backgrounds and fields and no knowledge of Japan or the Japanese language is necessary for the conference. In my environment roundtable I worked with economics majors, medical students, engineers, business students, and a psychology student! Many of the events the roundtable groups attend provide great opportunities for professional networking and meeting esteemed guests such as Japanese consul generals, renowned professors, and prominent Japanese and American business and political leaders.
Roundtable work, forums, and speakers aren’t the only components of JASC. JASC also gives you the opportunity to strengthen bonds with fellow JASCers through exploring the venues, discussing interest topics at Special Topics groups, participating in the “JASC show”, celebrating summer birthdays, and overall having fun together. The bonds forged at JASC carry on beyond the summer. Since the 62nd JASC, we have had multiple reunions and remain in close contact with one another.
Early in the conference we had our first annual JASC-KASC day, where I had the chance to meet delegates from our sister Korea-America Student Conference (KASC). KASC is a newer student-led cultural exchange between America and Korea similar to JASC. This summer KASC will be taking place in South Korea.
The best part of my summer JASC experience was that it was free! I won the Matsudaira Memorial Scholarship, which is offered each year to support one UW-Madison student at JASC. Information about the Matsudaira Memorial Scholarship can be found on the CEAS website here and applying simply requires a copy of your JASC application. Although there isn’t a full scholarship for KASC as of yet, International Student Conferences helps students raise money and find funding resources at their universities. Join me as a proud alumni and apply to JASC today!
The 2011 JASC and KASC application is due on March 1st. Apply today!
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