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East Asian Thought
Sociopolitical Debates in Ancient and Modern East Asia
This course examines the evolution of the East Asian intellectual tradition with a particular focus on the development of sociopolitical ideals during two periods of fundamental transformation: the establishment of “Imperial China” in 221 BCE and East Asia’s encounter with the West in the nineteenth century. Each focal point will be explored through a role-playing game in which students take on the roles of historical figures and debate the issues that shaped East Asian civilization.

Grades
The distribution of grades for the course is as follows:

20%
Class Participation (5% for each game + 10% for the rest of the course)
30%
RTTP Written Assignments (two 500-word papers for each game: 4x7.5%)
50%
RTTP Historical Analyses (one 2000-word paper for each game: 2x25%)

Your final grade will ultimately depend on my assessment of your performance in each of the above areas, though the following descriptions should provide you with a rough idea of the defining characteristics of students within particular grade ranges:

A Consistently demonstreates a deep understanding of the major concepts and themes of the course, develops insights into their broader significance, and maintains a high level of intellectual engagement in class discussions.
B Demonstrates a serious commitment to the course (i.e. attendance and participation) and a strong grasp of the major concepts and themes but with less depth and/or consistency than the “A” student.
C Demonstrates a basic grasp of the course material as well as a reasonable effort to attend class and participate in discussions.
D Demonstrates a minimal commitment to the course and a weak grasp of basic concepts and themes.
F Fails to demonstrate an acceptable degree of effort in the course through low attendance, inability to discuss basic concepts and themes, missed assignments and/or plagiarized work.
 
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, you should be able to:
  • develop and present arguments in a debate format.
  • identify and accurately cite primary and secondary sources.
  • develop a thesis that is defended using primary and/or secondary sources and construct a coherent narrative that communicates historical knowledge and provides an interpretation of the past.
  • analyze diversity in the human experience, including race, ethnicity, and/or gender.
  • analyze the causes and consequences of historical events in a global context.
  • compare at least two different East Asian countries.
  • describe cultural values and characteristics of a particular East Asian nation.
  • describe social and/or economic changes in East Asia and their consequences.
  • explore questions about human experience and the nature of being human by analyzing historical texts, objects, events, and ideas using methods common to the humanities.
  • evaluate ethical dimensions of East Asian societies based on major ethical tradition and apply ethical principles in decision-making.
  • discuss local, national, and global identities in terms of global interdependence and the development of a multicultural world.

Class Participation
You will receive a 5% participation mark for each of the two Reacting to the Past games based on your ability to embody your assigned character as well as your engagement in the game. You will also receive a 10% participation mark for the rest of the course based on your ability to demonstrate that you have made a sincere attempt to read and understand the assigned material. All attempts to seriously engage the readings — from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question — will contribute to your grade.

Reacting to the Past
Reacting to the Past is an active learning pedagogy of role-playing games in which students explore a historical topic by taking on character roles that require them to communicate, collaborate, and compete in order to achieve assigned objectives. We will play two games in this course, one that explores
China’s transition from a feudal society to a centralized empire in the second century BCE and another that focuses on Korea’s attempt to modernize at the end of the nineteenth century. Please note that these games demand a high degree of student preparation and participation. You will need to read various primary and secondary source materials in order to prepare memorials, make oral arguments, and debate proposals with classmates who will be representing different social and political interests. You will also need to work with other players in order to achieve shared objectives or establish mutually beneficial alliances. Finally, the “analysis” that you write at the conclusion of the game will require you to demonstrate a deep understanding of the historical significance of the issues that were debated. In short, students who have read the materials carefully and become fully immersed in the game are likely to do significantly better than those who rely on general impressions and uncertain recollections.

RTTP Roles and Assignments
Prior to each game, you will receive a role sheet with a short biography of your character as well as specific objectives that you need to complete during the game. You will gain/lose “social rank” (Game 1) or “prestige points” (Game 2) for accomplishing/failing to accomplish your objectives; points will be tallied at the end of the game to determine whether you “win, lose or draw,” though your actual grade will be determined by your written assignments and class participation. Details regarding the two short papers you will write during each game will be provided in your role sheet. The essay prompts for the longer papers on the historical significance of the game are as follows:

King Zheng and the Unification of China
After concluding the game, you will write a 2000-word paper in which you provide a historical analysis of the game’s final product, the king’s “Ruling Philosophy.” Your paper should begin with a discussion of the historical context in which the game’s fictional debate is set, highlighting what you regard as the fundamental problem that led to the collapse of the sociopolitical order during the Warring States period. You will then explain why the Ruling Philosophy would or would not help King Zheng become the First Emperor of China and establish a dynasty worthy of lasting ten thousand generations.

Korea at the Crossroads of Civilization
After concluding the game, you will write a 2000-word paper in which you provide a historical analysis of the game’s final product, “The Kabo Reform Plan.” Your paper should begin with a discussion of the historical context in which the actual Kabo Reforms took place, highlighting what you regard as the most significant challenges associated with the modernization of Korea. You will then explain the Reform Plan’s potential to address these challenges and successfully resolve the tension between “traditional” and “modern” perspectives on sociopolitical order.

Assignments should be submitted on Blackboard by clicking RTTP Game 1” or RTTP Game 2” on the left tab and then choosing the relevant assignment in the Assignments” folder. It is essential that you submit the in-game assignments by the specified deadlines, since your failure to prepare for a speech or submit a proposal will have a significant effect on the other players in the game. For this reason, late submissions for in-game assignments will not be accepted. For the post-game analyses, late submissions will be penalized one degree (e.g., from B to B-) for each day that it is late. All papers should include appropriate references to academic sources with both direct quotations and indirect summaries cited using Chicago Style footnotes. Papers that contain significant instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs. All submitted work may be randomly selected for program assessment (with names removed); although this will in no way impact your course grade, you may opt out of program assessment by notifying Professor Hoffert by email. For additional details regarding essay requirements see the RTTP Assignment and RTTP Historical Analysis Rubrics below.

    Required Texts
     Liu, JeeLoo. An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. [ICP]
     de Bary, Wm. Theodore and Irene Bloom (compilers). Sources of Chinese Tradition. Second Edition, Volume 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. [SCT]
    Additional readings are available by clicking links on the syllabus and by downloading the “Reacting to the Past” Gamebooks and Readings from Blackboard.

    Virtual Office Hours/Contact Information
    My virtual office hours (via Zoom) and contact information are:
    Tuesday 1:30-3:30   Wednesday 4:30-5:30   Thursday 1:30-3:30   Friday (Tea/Talk): 4:30-5:30
    Phone: 630-637-5619
    E-mail: bhoffert@noctrl.edu
    Home Page: http://bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu
     
    * All papers should be submitted to Blackboard/Assignments.
    Papers may be used for program assessment (with names removed).
     
    RTTP Assignment Rubric

    Unsatisfactory
    0 - .69
    Good
    .70-.79
    Very Good
    .80-.89
    Exceptional
    .90-1.0
    MARK
    LENGTH<400 words
    400-500 words
    500-600 words
    >600 words
    .5
    STYLEIdeas are poorly expressed with substantial spelling and/or grammar issuesIdeas are adequately expressed but there are many stylistic errrorsIdeas are clearly expressed with some stylistic errors
    Ideas are eloquently expressed with very few stylistic errors
    1
    REFERENCES
    There are no references to the assigned readings for the course
    The paper lacks “Chicago Style” references to the assigned readings
    There are appropriate references to at least 2 of the assigned readings
    There are well-chosen and skillfully used references to at least 3 assigned readings
    1
    CONTENT
    The paper shows little understanding of the issues that are relevant to the topic
    The paper shows minimal understanding of the issues that are relevant to the topic
    The paper appropriately represents the character’s perspective on the topic
    The paper insightfully represents the character’s perspective on the topic
    5
    TOTAL



    7.5
    Bamboo Page Divider
    RTTP Historical Analysis Rubric

    Unsatisfactory
    0 - .69
    Good
    .70-.79
    Very Good
    .80-.89
    Exceptional
    .90-1.0
    MARK
    LENGTH<1750 words1750-2000 words2000-2250 words>2250 words 2
    STYLEIdeas are poorly expressed with substantial spelling and/or grammar issues Ideas are adequately expressed but there are many stylistic errrors Ideas are clearly expressed with some stylistic errors
    Ideas are eloquently expressed with very few stylistic errors
    3
    PRIMARY SOURCES
    There are no references to primary sources
    The paper lacks “Chicago Style” references to at least 3 primary sourcesThere are appropriate “Chicago Style” references to at least 3 primary sourcesThere are well-chosen and skillfully used references to at least 4 primary sources2
    SECONDARY SOURCES
    There are significant problems with the references to secondary sources
    The paper lacks “Chicago Style” references to at least 5 secondary sources There are appropriate “Chicago Style” references to at least 5 secondary sources There are well-chosen and skillfully used references to at least 6 secondary sources 3
    ARGUMENT
    &
    THESIS
    There are significant problems with the paper’s argument and/or thesis
    The paper’s thesis is unclear and/or not supported bya a coherent argument
    The paper develops a clear thesis on the historical significance of the game
    The paper develops an insightful thesis on the historical significance of the game
    15
    TOTAL



    25
     
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