Ikegami, Chapters 10, 11, 12, 14, 15
Women of the Mito Domain
For each paper, pick one of the suggested topics and write a short (800-1200 words) essay applying that theme to the relevant readings. You may take any position you feel justified, as long as you have good documentary support for your position. You will need to focus the question somewhat to keep it under 1200 words, either by applying the question specifically to the most relevant/striking texts or by posing a narrower version of the question. Papers will be graded primarily on how effectively they use historical (including literary) evidence and knowledge to support your conclusions. However, standard writing forms and conventions are appreciated.
- Was the case of the 47 Rōnin a “throwback to an earlier age” or a “reflection of Tokugawa values and anxieties”?
- Compare Ikegami’s rejection of Confucianism as the foundation of mid-late Tokugawa samurai culture with the educational programs described in Yamakawa.
- Does Musui have a sense of honor? If so, what does he mean by that?
- Yamakawa writes “The bushi family of this period was neither a unit of production nor one organized for fighting. In that functionally it was no more than a unit of consumption dependent on the family head’s income, it resembled the family of today.” (20) Based on Musui’s narrative, is that accurate?
- What role do women play in Musui’s life? How does this compare with Yamakawa’s description?
- What role do women play in Chūshingura? How does this compare with Yamakawa’s description?
- Based on Yamakawa’s descriptions, how much power did women have in samurai households?
- How is seppuku discussed differently in these sources?
- I am expecting a real essay, with introductions, thesis, paragraphs, conclusions, etc.
- Clarity is crucial; structure is essential to a clear and effective argument.
- These questions can be answered more than adequately with reference to assigned readings and lectures. You are welcome to do more research and include outside sources, but you must be sure that they are relevant and of sufficient quality to enhance your argument. Using outside sources instead of relevant course materials will be penalized.
- The grade will be based primarily on the quality of the historical arguments that you make: thesis, the use of evidence, the attention to context. You don’t need to summarize the sources — this is too short of a paper for that — but you do need to give the reader a clear idea of what you’re talking about. Secondary to the quality of your analysis is the clarity of the presentation: how easy is it for the reader to follow your line of argument and be persuaded by your evidence?
- Length: 800-1200 words. If you use standard double-spaced pages, that’s 3-5 pages. I do not penalize for shorter essays, if it really answers the questions well; I do not penalize for longer essays, if it really is on topic and substantive. I do penalize for missing important questions and for excessive verbiage.
- No Title Page. Include your name, the course, and the assignment at the top. You may also include a title for your essay.
- Double-spacing is not required. Reasonable font, however, is: something standard and readable and a nice size. Normal margins are also a must: 1-1.5 inches.
- Don’t try to make the paper look longer or shorter by playing with font and margins.
- Spellcheck and grammarcheck your work. Don’t assume the computer is right, however: read it over yourself (reading out loud often helps). I don’t take off points for grammatical or spelling errors unless they are so numerous as to distract from the message of the paper. That doesn’t mean that I enjoy reading papers with errors, or that I won’t mark them when I notice them.
Plagiarism and citations
Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another without proper attribution and will not be tolerated. For details see the plagiarism page, or ask. If you cite material from the textbook, you only need to note page number; for outside sources you must include bibliographic information, either in a note or in a works cited section. You shouldn’t need outside sources to answer these questions, however.
Don’t forget: there are TWO essays due 12/8