|Samurai: History, Literature, Mythology
|Due December 13th, 3pm
30% of course grade
YOU MUST DO
One Review and One Question
The Final Exam is in two parts.
- First, you will write a 1500-2500 word review of Ikegami’s The Taming of the Samurai in the light of our discussions and other course readings. This will be worth 1/2 of your exam grade, or 15% of the course final grade.
- Second, you will choose an essay question from the list on page three, which will be 1/2 of your final exam grade, or 15% of your course grade. There is neither a minimum nor a maximum length for these essays, but I would be surprised if you could answer any of them in less than 1000 words or needed more than 2500.
“Let the children of the rich and poor take their seats together
and know of no distinction save that of industry, good conduct and intelligence.”
– Townsend Harris
“When some English moralists write about the importance of having character,
they appear to mean only the importance of having a dull character.”
– G.K. Chesterton
“All cruelty springs from weakness.”
Part One: Ikegami Review
The purpose of a review is a critical analysis which reveals the strengths, weaknesses, usefulness and quality of your subject. This review, in particular, should focus on the relationship between Ikegami’s work and the other materials we read and discussed this semester. Like a good book, your review should have a thesis and a supporting argument. Remember that this is not a book report: be both critical and appreciative as appropriate, but come to your own conclusions.
Your review grade will be based on the quality, clarity, completeness and effectiveness of your writing. Most important is your analysis of the book: is it thorough, balanced and convincing? Is sufficient evidence presented, and with an appropriate structure? Is it a coherent essay?
You do not need to deal with the chapters of Ikegami that were not assigned (1, 9, 16), but you do need to deal with the rest of the book. The review should be between 1500 and 2500 words (roughly 6-10 doublespaced pages, though doublespacing is not required), not counting citations or bibliography.
General Advice: The elements of a good review
Summary: a concise and clear restatement of the basic content of the book. It should include the author’s thesis, some idea of how the book is structured, and what is contained within. Summary alone should take up no more than 1/4 of the text of the final review. Remember that more detail can be included in the analytical sections of the review; this is just introduction.
Thesis: What is the point of the book? What conclusions does it try to reach? Is this an ambitious or radical idea, or is it conservative, unexciting?
Argument and Evidence: What kind of evidence or data is presented? Where does the evidence come from? Is it reliable, and is it interpreted reasonably? What kind of conclusions are reached along the way, aside from the main thesis? What is the logic that leads from evidence to conclusion? Does the evidence support the thesis and conclusions? Is there evidence missing, or is it interpreted in a one-sided way? How does the author deal with alternative arguments or scholars who have reached different conclusions?
Evaluation: Does the author achieve the desired effect? Are you convinced by the argument? How much have you learned and is what you learned what the author intended? Are the conclusions strongly supported by the evidence? Is it well-written (and what does that mean)? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this book? How does this work compare or contrast to other works written on the same subject?
Recommendation: What would another reader get out of this book? What are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the book? Would you recommend this book to a fellow student? Why or why not?
Part Two: Essays
- Chūshingura and Tale of the Heike are both fictionalized versions of historical events which try to create a romantic ideal of samurai values and behavior. How do those ideals differ?
- Compare the samurai of Mito to the warriors portrayed in Conlan’s State of War. Things to consider include leadership, economic situation, motivation, weapons and tactics.
- How would the 14th century warriors described by Conlan have viewed the 47 Rōnin and their actions? In this case refer to the actual Akō incident, not the fictionalized version of Chūshingura. Would 14th century samurai have admired them or considered them absurd?
- Was Saigō Takamori the perfect samurai? Why, or why not?
This test covers the entire semester: textbooks, documents, and lectures.
- This is a take-home essay examination, so I am expecting real essays, with introductions, thesis statements, paragraphs, conclusions, etc.
- Don’t assume that “an answer” will be easily found in one section of one book. These essays require broad knowledge and analytical thinking.
- Be concrete: evidence is always more convincing than generalization or simple logic.
The grade is based primarily on the strength of your argument as an answer to the question: thesis, evidence (completeness and handling), logic.
- Polished prose is not required, but basic courtesies like correct spelling and writing in grammatical standard English will be expected.
- Clarity is crucial; structure is essential to a clear and effective argument.
Citations and Plagiarism
- failure to acknowledge the source of your ideas or information is unacceptable. Plagiarism will result in no credit for the exam. Poor paraphrasing and poor citation will be penalized.
- A Works Cited or Bibliography page is not required unless you use sources outside of the course readings and lectures. You must cite the source of information and ideas that are outside of “general knowledge,” including information from your course texts. Format of the notes is up to you: I prefer footnotes for my research, but parenthetical citations are fine as well; any format will be fine as long as it is used consistently and it clearly identifies the source and page of your information.
- 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 if necessary, but you must be sure that they are relevant and of sufficient quality to enhance your argument. Using outside sources instead of course materials will result in penalties.
- Make sure that your name, section, e-mail address and the question are clearly indicated at the beginning of each essay, and that each essay begins on a fresh page. Title pages are not required.
- Double-spacing and title pages are not required, but readable type and font are.
- All Essays are due in my office (RH 406F) before 3pm on Tuesday, December 13th. There will be no extensions or late papers accepted except in cases of documented medical emergency. Emailed files will only be accepted as proof of completion; printed essays must be delivered no later than Thursday noon, and must be identical to the emailed files.