The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor is a 1987 biopic about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo Bertolucci. Wikipedia

The last Emperor


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My understanding about my East Asian students’ culture has improved. My present readings about Japanese detective stories has more meaning due to what I learned in this class. East Asian cultures cannot be considered a single entity due to the many factors involved in the development of the three countries that we studied in this course: China, Japan, Korea. The material about Japan and Korea was very invaluable to my understanding of these two countries and to break some stereotypes that I have assimilated through popular culture.

I want to say thanks to all of you for your input in this class and suggested readings to improve my understanding of China, Japan, and Korea. Especially to Richard for the recommended Japanese detective novels, which I have been enjoying during this break.

Enjoy the Holiday!!!!

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I moved well beyond my previous focus on 19th and 20th century economic, military and political interplay between the West and East Asia.  First, my grasp of traditional China grew by leaps and bounds (a “Great Leap Forward”?).  The learned self-identification of Han China as “China” and the role of Confucianism in cementing much of this self-identification was revelatory.   Second, I also became much more aware of the internal dynamics of East Asian development.  I, too, wish we could have learned more about Japan and Korea.  China is wonderful, but it is apparent to me that it must be examined in the context of other peoples and cultures.  My foray into the wild world of Tang Dynasty barbarian assimulation and control has convinced me that the interactions between the “barbarians” and the Han is a central organizing feature to any serious study of East Asia.  It has also affected my view of other societies at other times, informing especially my research on post-1945 West German reconstruction.  When are peoples and their cultures receptive to outside influences?  To what extent is there true assimulation of outside influences into a primary identification, and what is left to the inferior or supplementary identification (self-identification by negation)?  Can outside influences ever become part of the primary identification?  To what extent can we even talk about a purely “Chinese” or “Korean” or “Japanese” national identity much less a pure racial and ethnic grouping.

As far as teaching, I think that a purely chronological approach won’t work in a field this wide.  I intend to divide my course into five units for a semester course, roughly chronological, but each with a specific theme:

1. The archaelogical record and the fragmented origins of East Asian societies and polities.

2. Barbarians and Chinese from Han to Yuan.

3. Imperial Decline and Western Imperialism:  Meiji vs. Self strengtheners

4. Communism and East Asia in the 20th Century

5. A gendered history of Post Second World War East Asia.


Lastly, I want to thank everybody for helping me to learn and understand that I have much, much more to learn and understand.  Have a great holiday.

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The following are the three sentences thinking of East Asia by Kyeong:

What I thought about east Asia after taking the class is that women’s status has improved throughout the history but that women’s roles, especially at home, have not much changed in east Asian countries. Second, I ‘ve got a better understanding of Chinese dynasties and lives of modern Chinese people; the discussion of changing Chinese society such as the environmental issues or the gap between the rich and the poor and the lives of urban and rural areas was especially helpful. Lastly, I acknowledge that China is important part of east Asia, but I thought we could have spent more time on Japan and Korea as these three countries are closely related to each other historically and culturally.

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We talked in class about a new term for educated young people in China “the ant tribe,” who get higher education but struggle to survive in large cities. They cannot afford to rent decent apartments in downtown areas so that they have to stay in the outskirt of cities sharing a room with a few people oftentimes. Check this news and the video. China\'s College Graduates are Struggling

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Learning from my mother’s voice: Family legend and the Chinese American experience, by Jean Lau Chin (2005), is a moving and informative two part book that at its heart tells the story of one family’s immigration from a small village in southern China to America beginning in the mid-1800’s through recent time. Part one presents a chorus of embracing myths, legends, and customs ingrained in Chinese culture that intertwine and guide people’s lives. Historical and moving descriptions of strength and courage, heroes and legends, freedom from bondage and oppression, enhance the importance of relationships throughout transitions of close and extended family homesteaders and sojourners.

Part Two is written from Chin’s’ intimate recordings of talks with her mother as she describes her life witness to war and poverty, the starvation and deaths, and the separation of wives from husbands in search of release from suffering and the promise of the future. Chin’s family story takes readers from a desolated a flood-ravaged south China village to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing, California Gold Rush mines and railroads, and sweat-drenched laundries of New York and San Francisco’s Angel Island. Chin recounts personal stories told to her of Japan’s invasion of China, World War II, and the suffering of McCarthyism during America’s 1950’s and China’s era of communist control.
Mother’s belief of believe in the stories she was raised with, superstitions, and commitment to lasting relationships carry her through periods of isolation and persecution, culminating in revelation of success as her family becomes secure in their new homes, perennial themes of separation loss, guilt and identity that both haunt and strengthen the Chinese-American immigrant experience. Chin’s story comprises a thorough and inviting description of the basis and transformation of ancient stories into new ones that bond the Chinese-American immigrant experience with pride and awareness of self –efficacy within individuals, families and the community.

Having visited the Chinese communities of New York, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, in talking with community members, it’s not difficult to catch glimpses of the protectiveness such close-knight communities provide just beneath what I often describe as a “tourist veneer.” Certainly similar cohesion among community members can be found encompassing groups of individuals and family members who’ve emigrated from other countries. Chin clearly captures the significance of folklore of her family’s native land. The challenges, uniqueness and compassion of experiences in becoming Chinese-American, as Chin describes, are compelling beyond complacency toward examining one’s own beliefs.

Learning from my mother’s voice: Family legend and the Chinese American experience, by Jean Lau Chin, is part of the Multicultural Foundations of Psychology and Counseling Series, published by Teachers College of Columbia University, New York. Jean Lau Chin, Ed.D, ABPP, is Dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Francisco. She is a licensed psychologist with over 30 years of clinical, educational, and management experience in health and mental health services.

Learning from my mother’s voice is forwarded by Jessica Henderson Daniel, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and the first African American woman elected to the American Psychological Association Board of Directors, who comments on the book’ cover, The reader is carried through history and time to varied locations across several generations through mythology and storytelling that is focused on the lives of Chinese women.

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I have been thinking about insights gained from the course we have completed.  I took the course when it was offered in 2007 and I was so eager to take it again because I find myself thinking about this particular class so frequently.  This go-round I focused on China.  First, I find I have a better grasp on the dynasties.  Second I have a much better understanding of the transitions that China has undergone since the turn of the last century.  Third, I can identify social issues that will resonate with my students as vehicles to teach about China, such as public policy and women, migration from rural to urban areas, pollution and land use issues, resurgence of religious practices, access to education and economic growth.  Having such great advice and recommendations from Richard, Katrina and all of the members of the class has made this such a rich experience.

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Check this website to see how youth from worldwide can share their concerns and thoughts through online storytelling. Bridges to Understanding

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Hi, a friend forwarded to me the following link:

Here are links to educational videos in Spanish, and they have the Chinese series on you tube that we partially watched in class.

So in case that you have students who want to watch them in Spanish, here they are.



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I believe we are to make three statements about what we have learned about East Asia through this course. Let me begin by saying how valuable the experience has been for me; interacting with such knowledgeable collegues was extremely enlightening.
My three sentences or highlights are:
I am fascinated by the languages of the East Asian people. Not only the sounds and meanings, but the beauty and history behind them. The complexity of the languages makes me want to learn more and share what I know with my students.
I am also amazed at the progress that China has made in recent years, not only economically, but also culturally. What I didn’t realize was the huge differences between rural and urban areas especially the migratory patterns that are currently occurring.
And finally, any discussion we had about the values and beliefs of the Asian people was extremely interesting. From talking about Confucius and Buddha to the trends in Japanese marriage patterns I learned a lot.
(I guess that’s more than three sentences.) :)

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