Final (524, F11)

Hist 524: Early Japan
Fall 2011
Jonathan Dresner
Final Exam Essay Questions
Due Friday, December 16th, noon
25% of Course Grade

PICK TWO Questions

  1. Based on Japan in Print, write an analysis of Japanese society at the end of the 17th century in the style of Farris: social classes, how they have advanced or failed, economic developments, family, and major intellectual or religious trends.
  2. Compare and contrast the values (not practices or structure) of the samurai class as depicted in the Tale of the Heike and Berry’s Japan in Print.
    Compare and contrast the values (not practices or structure) of the aristocratic class as depicted in the Tale of Genji and the samurai class as depicted in Berry’s Japan in Print.
  3. Compare and contrast the handling of religion in  The Tale of Genji and The Tale of the Heike. Are the differences more a function of changing times or a difference in social class of the characters and audiences?
  4. What influence does the Tale of Genji have on later literature and culture? Concrete examples and connections to the text are most important, but general concepts and techniques are important as well, if they can be substantiated from the text.
  5. Write a review of Berry’s Japan in Print, including clear statement and discussion of her thesis, use of evidence, contrasts with other course readings, and the usefulness of the book.


  • This test covers the entire semester, including all readings and lectures.
    • Don’t assume that “an answer” will be easily found in one section of one book. These essays require broad knowledge and analytical thinking. Among other things, this means that questions that look simple generally require a second look.
    • Don’t make broad general statements without details: the key to successful historical analysis is that the evidence supports the argument being made.
    • You have time to think about these questions. Don’t leave it to the last minute.
  • This assignment is worth 25% of your course grade.
    • I am expecting two real essays, with introductions, thesis, paragraphs, conclusions, etc.
    • The grade is based primarily on the strength of your argument as an answer to the question: thesis, evidence (completeness and handling), logic.
    • Clarity is crucial; structure is essential to a clear and effective argument.
    • Be careful to address all parts of the question: when asked to pick between two choices, for example, it’s not enough to say what the positive argument for your side is without discussing the possible arguments for the other side.
  • Citations and Plagiarism
    • failure to acknowledge the source of your ideas or information is unacceptable.
    • A Works Cited or Bibliography is not required unless you use sources outside of the course materials. 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 as long as 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 include outside sources as supplemental materials, 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.
  • Technical Details
    • Make sure that your name, e-mail address and the question are clearly indicated at the beginning of the essay. Title pages are not required.
    • There is neither a minimum nor a maximum length for these essays, but I would be shocked if you could answer any of them in less than 1000 words and surprised if you needed more than 3000.
    • Correct spelling and writing in grammatical standard English are expected. Minor errors are acceptable; substantial quantities of errors will affect your grade.
    • Double-spacing and title pages are not required, but readable type and font are.

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