What a wonderful British man!! I took this class in Spring 2021 in an all-online format and it still managed to be one of my favorite classes at Columbia ever. Professor Kreitman obviously thinks deeply and meaningfully about what it means to talk about "Japanese civilization," and our class featured many aspects of Japan (like the Ainu and Okinawa Prefecture) that have fraught relations the idea of Japan as a nation. The primary texts and readings we did were so, so interesting and drew on lots of literature from various eras in Japan (which as a lit major I was very into). Professor Kreitman was incredibly receptive to feedback and really tried to incorporate things we suggested to him into the course. I took this class 100% as a Global Core requirement having already declared my major, but this class, Professor Kreitman, and the fantastic TAs probably would have single-handedly convinced an uncertain and fresh-faced freshman version of myself to become an EALAC major. Cannot recommend Japan Civ with Prof Kreitman as a Global Core requirement enough.
Take this class! I had no prior knowledge of Japanese history or culture before enrolling and I can confidently say I learned a significant amount. Professor Pflugfelder is a phenomenal lecturer. In fact, I would argue he is one of the most interesting and engaging lecturers I have had during my time at Columbia. He is very knowledgeable of Japanese history and always adds interesting facts into each lecture. His slides have few words and are mostly filled with pictures and graphics that supplement the information he discusses during class. Therefore, it is paramount to go to class or it will be hard to teach the material to yourself. The content of the course is different than a traditional history class with a heavy focus on material culture and gender and sexual relations within Japan, but nevertheless, the information covered is fascinating. I greatly enjoyed my experience in IEAC: Japan with Professor Pflugfelder and highly recommend it to everyone!
The course unfortunately falls into all the stereotypes of a Columbia humanities course. If I could break down the proportion of time spent on learning different aspects of Japanese History it would be - 50% Gender and Sexuality, 30% Art and Mythology, 20% Politics and Economics. The readings are sometimes pretty good, but the lectures are all monolithic in their focus on gender relations and art. If you want to learn about wars, leaders, economic relations, and other things generally expected from a history course, don't take this one. If what you care about in Japanese culture is art, poetry, and the role of women, then it's for you. Professor Pflugfelder is an excellent professor and is very knowledgeable in the fields that the class focuses on. However, the lectures rarely include elements of political or military history as that aspect of the class is relegated to readings from a rather dry textbook.
Professor Lurie is and will continue to be amazing. He was one of the best professors that I had the pleasure of taking at Columbia. His knowledge of everything Japanese was vast and very impressive. I had the opportunity to take both his survey course on Japan and a seminar on myths of East Asia. Honestly, both classes did not feel like work, especially in the seminar. Lurie's personality made me feel quite at ease and the lectures and discussions were enjoyable, entertaining, and very educational. I would recommend to go to his office hours and just talk story with the guy, he is very friendly and a blast to get to know, as well as truly wanting all of his students to succeed both inside and outside the classroom. I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone to take a class with David Lurie, I promise you will not regret it.
Great Professor, however there were some issues with the class. One of the TA's was constantly scanning the back of the classroom for people using their computers inappropriately or falling asleep, and her behavior was extremely distracting. Another issue I had was just with general housekeeping issues. Professor Pflugfelder didn't go over the syllabus in class which contributed to a number of misunderstandings. We were told to expect an average reading load of 50-150 pages per week- however on the last week of class the workload practically tripled with no warning whatsoever. There was nothing on the syllabus to suggest this because one of the assignments was an entire work with no indication of how many pages it contained. Additionally, I was left a little pissed off after I purchased materials that were later provided on courseworks for free. As a whole though, despite having no real interest in the subject matter and only taking the class because it was the best of the remaining global core options I had available to me since I had to register late, I feel positive about the course. I felt that everything was graded very generously and Prof. Pflugfelder is kind of hilarious.
DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! For those of you who are not dissuaded by the first statement, please let me elaborate. It's quite sad that I have to tell you not to take this class because Pflugfelder is a great lecturer and attempts to be very engaging. However this class is ruined by unbearable required recitation and poor TA choice. There are four TA's in the Spring 2015 class. 2/4 TA's are certifiably insane 1/4 obviously paid someone a good amount of money to take the TOEFL because her English is not understandable 1/4 appears to be normal In this class the 2 crazy TA's pace the back of the lecture and torment students who are using their computers to distract themselves from the droning lecture. Personally I cannot pay attention during this class and the behavior of these 2 TA's serves as more of a distraction than a benefit to any persons involved. Instead they should just mind their own business and allow people to self-distract instead of not coming to class (due to this unnecessary policy). TLDR: Japan studies grad students are crazy and ruin the class. Take rise of civ and hope that you get an A-. Disclaimer: I had to stop going to this class because I can't stand it, but I still go to recitations as they play a role in participation.
This class was thoroughly useless, though not at all difficult to do well in. If you're a student from any of the "hard" majors at Columbia (read: not gender studies, poli sci, religion, EALAC, philosophy, etc.) and you're trying to fulfill your global core requirement then take this class! Negatives: -weekly 50 minute discussion section (just make 1-2 semi-intelligent comments are you're good to go) -boring class -absolutely useless (doesn't even make it chronologically to 1941, Pearl Harbor, WWII, Hiroshima & Nagasaki...unbelievable) -one really boring paper on Japanese art (not hard, just unbearably useless and uninteresting) Pros: -class is not very useful -midterm and final are easy -TAs give review sheets for both the midterm and final with all the terms you need to know (Wikipedia these and make a review guide and you'll do great, not only in ID questions but also for knowing the context for the essay questions) Overall: if you are conditioned to do lots of work for a class (i.e. you're a STEM major or something with equal workload) and you need to fulfill your global core, this class will require minimal effort to get a decent grade. Yes. it's an utter waste of time, but isn't that the point of global core? Take it.
Ok, this is going to be one of those awkward reviews you often see around here. Why awkward? Well, you'll soon find out. I took Japan Civ. because of my personal interest while it did not fullfil any of my core requirements (I completed these before). I am mentioning this fact in order to illustrate that I do not have any possible bias regarding the class. The class material was really interesting while professor Brandt often focused on cultural aspects of Japan side by side its general history. We were assigned with interesting literature books, individual accounts, and even with a movie. I found the lectures particularly effective and interesting and soon found out that attending these lectures is a must (especially since there are many students who refused to share their class notes). So what went wrong with this class? Well, here comes the awkward part. After two years at Columbia this is the first time that I disliked a class because of my TA. During the last two years I worked with TAs in various (sometimes similar) classes, such as China Civ and Roman Empire. Our class TA, Andre, absolutely and undoubtedly made this class less enjoyable. He forced people to talk in recitations, constantly mentioning that some of us have already used our one-time-chance not to post weekly responses. Andre even gave us his own recitation syllabus emphasizing that we were not allowed to miss more than two classes without doctor notes (!!!). The worst part came when we had to do our final papers. The final paper is the part where the TA has the greatest influence since he is checking and grading it. I handed in my paper 2 weeks in advance, and Andre agreed to edit it. However, this relatively unimportant paper soon became a nightmare. When I came to talk with him about his thoughts regarding the paper I did not receive ANY comments about the content of the paper but only about grammatical/style matters. Of course, my English is far from perfect and I have much to improve. Nevertheless, receiving 0% comments on my paper's topic or content was quite upsetting. consequently, I found out that this class was a bonus 2 in 1 class- Japan Civ. + University Writing. Andre then insisted that we use Chicago-Style Foot Notes, which is obviously ok, but also sent us around 5 emails reminding us of that. He then commented on my paper, emphasizing grammatical matters, telling me that my secondary sources are NOT secondary sources (all of them by the way were from the library, Google Scholar, Google Books, etc.)- all making this paper a living hell in times of finals. I ended up receiving a B. Unfortunately, this is the FIRST time I encountered such a TA and such an approach. Instead of improving my knowledge in the class material, I found myself receiving embarrassing comments solely about my grammer. Perhaps Andre should change his profession to grammar/writing teacher. Now, my final course grade was an (A-) so please believe me when I say that my intentions are good. Both the material of this course and the great professor (who was always friendly and approachable) were definitely worthwhile. For both of these crucial elements I would give an A. The TA, who is obviously the person who is supposed to supplement the missing material or discuss the existing one, receives a C for this past semester. Finally, we can reach a conclusion . As you can see from the top grades, this course receives a B. Unfortunately, it's a B for the wrong reasons. Consequently, my personal take would be the following- take this course but avoid this TA. Secondly, take this course because it is extremely interesting and Professor Brandt is one of the best professors I've had during my last two years at Columbia. Avoid this TA if you had already taken University Writing and if you truly wish to study more about Japan during recitations.
Ok, this is going to be one of those awkward reviews you often see around here. Why awkward? Well, you'll soon find out. I took Japan Civ. only because of my personal interest while it did not fullfil any of my core requirements (I completed these before). I am mentioning this fact in order to illustrate that I do not have any possible bias regarding the class. The class material was really interesting while professor Brandt often focused on cultural aspects of Japan side by side its general history. We were assigned with interesting literature books, individual accounts, and even with a movie. I found the lectures particularly effective and interesting and soon found out that attending these lectures is a must (especially since there are many students who refused to share their class notes). So what went wrong with this class? Well, here comes the awkward part. After two years at Columbia this is the first time that I disliked a class because of my TA. During the last two years I worked with TAs in various (sometimes similar) classes, such as China Civ. Our class TA, Andre, absolutely and undoubtedly made this class less enjoyable. He forced people to talk in recitations, constantly mentioning that some of us have already used our one-time-chance not to post weekly responses. Andrea even gave us his own recitation syllabus emphasizing that we were not allowed to miss more than two classes with no doctor notes (!!!). The worst part came when we had to do our final papers. The final paper is the part where the TA has the greatest influence since he is checking and grading it. I handed in my paper 2 weeks in advance, and Andre agreed to edit it. However, this relatively unimportant paper soon became a nightmare. When I came to talk with him about his thoughts regarding the paper I did not receive ANY comments about the content of the paper but only about grammatical matters. Of course, my English is far from perfect and I have much to improve. Nevertheless, receiving 0% comments on my paper's topic or content was quite upsetting. consequently, I found out that this class was a bonus 2 in 1 class- Japan Civ. + University Writing. Andre then insisted that we use Chicago-Style Foot Notes, which is obviously ok, but also sent us around 5 emails reminding us of that. He then commented on my paper, emphasizing grammatical matters, telling me that my secondary sources are NOT secondary sources (all of them by the way were from the library, Google Scholar, Google Books, etc.)- all making this paper a living hell in times of finals. I ended up receiving a B. Unfortunately, this is the FIRST time I encountered such a TA and such an approach. Instead of improving my knowledge in the class material, I found myself receiving embarrassing comments solely about my grammer. Perhaps Andre should change his profession to grammar/writing teacher. Now, my final course grade was an (A-) so please believe me when I say that my intentions are good. Both the material of this course and the great professor (who was always friendly and approachable) were definitely worthwhile. For both of these crucial elements I would give an A. The TA, who is obviously the person who is supposed to supplement the missing material or discuss the existing one, receives a C for this past semester. Finally, we can reach a conclusion . As you can see from the top grades, this course receives a B. Unfortunately, it's a B for the wrong reasons. Consequently, my personal take would be the following- take this course but avoid this TA. Secondly, take this course because it is extremely interesting and Professor Brandt is one of the best professors I've had during my last two years at Columbia. Avoid this TA if you had already taken University Writing and if you truly wish to study more about Japan during recitations.
I wish I had had Prof. Lurie's version of Intro to Japan in my freshman year. I have taken a number of courses in Japanese civilization and culture and I find now that I've had Lurie's course, I have a MUCH better understanding of the historical context than I had before. His version is a very good survey course of Japanese history from prehistory to the present day, without the dumbing down you sometimes encounter in big sweep surveys. (I'm a history major, so I know whereof I speak.) He introduces major events, issues and personalities, and tries to keep an eye on continuities between periods as well as the distinctive characteristics. The readings are appealing, although as always the value of the weekly discussion sections depends on which TA you get. This is not one of those mickey mouse "get rid of an area requirement" courses, which you forget the minute you've finished the final exam. It's a legitimate Ivy League course which should increase your interest in and understanding of things Japanese.
This was by far the most boring class I have ever taken. Her lectures were totally unorganized and hard to follow. She presents you with a term list before every class but then doesn't really follow it in her lecture. Unless you are giving her your undivided attention, which is hard, considering it is a class about Japanese civilization, you will most often be lost in lecture. She isn't very nice either. I had 3 finals on the same day, and so I emailed her to change her final. She said that she will not offer it at another time and that I should try to change my other finals. She said that if I were unable to change any of my other classes, it is my fault because I should have looked at the proposed exam schedule when registering for classes (ARE YOU KIDDING ME??) Overall, it wasn't that difficult of a class. It was kind of annoying to do discussion posts every week on the readings that I didn't do. But, not putting that much time into the class, it wasn't too hard to get a good grade.
This class made me want to tear my hair out towards the end of the semester. To be fair: Pflugfelder's syllabus is mostly comprehensive, and covers the important anthropological, cultural and sociological developments of Japan insofar as he could over the course of one semester. His lecturing style was not at all esoteric; his powerpoints were clear and his points were useful. That said, ASCE: Japan for me was saved by the strength of his TAs. On their part, they did an incredible job of scanning and uploading every single one of the extremely numerous and useful readings. While you didn't have to do them to get by in class, they were a resource for any EALAC major that came in useful for a variety of different classes. Pflugfelder tends to be tardy to classes, which results in him rushing his lectures. Almost every lecture ended with a hurried summation of important factors, some of which will never be got to, and every next lecture begins with a time-consuming and repetitive summary of the one before. Discussion sections do much of the legwork in making sense of and rounding out the lectures, especially in areas which the professor chooses to tread lightly upon. Focus on material is generally fair until the Tokugawa. Not much was said of any of the time between the Kamakura and Edo periods, steamrolling important chunks of Japanese history (the Azuchi-Momoyama period?) in favour of him discussing Edo sexuality and literature. He does give fair warning that this is his disciplinary focus, but for as long and important a period as Edo, one expected at least a little discussion of politics and economics. The Meiji era, too, was subject to steamrolling due to the amount of time Edo discussion took up.
Pflugfelder was a solid professor - usually a bit late to class - who presented thousands of years of Japanese history in a relatively clear manner. His main tool is his power point presentations. He presents the class with cultural artifacts/paintings/prints as a means to bring the material to life (pardon the cliche). I was never one of those guys who obsessed about Japanese culture / anime, so I was quite surprised to find myself genuinely engaged with the class. That said, he focuses on gender and sexuality, which can get tiresome. Sometimes you really don't care about the aesthetics of imperial courtship and would prefer to just read about the events of the era. I did the readings only to get my weekly courseworks posting out of the way. Meaning I skimmed the first ten pages of the document, read other comments in the discussion thread, and BS'ed something. I highly recommend you do the same, as almost none of the material appears on the midterm or final. The focus is on lecture material. The grading was surprisingly tough - a friend who took the class a year before me said this was probably due to my TA. If you put in an earnest effort, you will wind up with a decent grade.
Just to keep things current, he's still going strong as of Fall 2007. This course is essentially a history lecture, with some literature and architecture/urban studies. He's a top notch lecturer, responsive to questions during lecture and in office hours, and gives fun and worthwhile assignments. If the first lecture bores you, drop the class because he's going to keep teaching at the same rate, tests cover lecture material in depth, you will not do well if you didn't pay attention, and there are tons of kids dying to get into this class who will happily take your spot. If you are really curious about Japanese history, here's a great introduction.
Professor Moerman's class isn't the most exciting or engaging because it's a lecture in an overheated room (which made it difficult to stay away at times). Still, if you want to fulfill your core requirement this is a relatively painless way to do it. It is a bit boring in the beginning, but about midway through the course the material becomes more interesting. Yes, there is an emphasis on Buddhism because it's Prof. Moerman's specialty, but I still found it fascinating. The reading is a bit much at times, but I got away with skimming through a lot of it. If you come to lecture and take good notes, you wont need to read too carefully. As for Prof. Moerman himself, he's a pretty laid back guy with a funny sense of humor. I didn't have a problem with him at all. The TAs in this class were pretty chill and not too demanding. Overall, I would recommend this class.
I'm glad I took this class, but it is definitely a mixed bag. The readings are pretty consistently awesome/fascinating, and never a drag to read, and the text is relatively short, though a little boring at points. The lectures range from funny, to MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING, and weigh heavily towards the latter. I tended to bring my laptop towards the end of the semester and just go online during lectures.. The worst part of the course, however, was defintely the fact that Pflugfelder showed up for class at least ten minutes late every day! And sometimes he didn't have a lecture prepared... I also applied for another class of his and he took more than a WEEK longer than he promised to notify us about it. You can't rely on this guy. I didn't take this class for major cultures, cause I'm an EALAC major, but if you're interested in Japan, this class isn't bad, it's just frustrating sometimes.
Not intimidating by any means and always approachable. The day to day readings can be extensive, however, he spends every class summarizing all the readings due. A lot of people don't show up to class, however, I would advise against this. If you show up and take really good notes (force yourself to stay awake), you won't have to read ANYTHING. Just type word for word what he teaches and his take home midterm and final will be a sinch. The paper is of your choice and is easy to bullshit through. Difficulty in grading depends on your TA. Overall, a painless way to get rid of your major cultures requirement.
Overall, this is a very easy class, and professor brandt does make it very interesting. You are expected to come to class having read the textbook, and brandt will then expand on the relatively limited amount of information covered in the book. She clearly spends a lot of time preparing for these, and brings a lot of extra material (i.e. books, and videos) to class. However, when it comes to the tests and papers, your attending the lectures does not really make a difference. Most of the ids are in the textbook, and the essay questions are so broad, that one can answer them based on the textbook alone. So, all in all, brandt isn't a bad professor, and this is a good GPA booster. Unfortunately, most students realize the futility of attending the lectures around midterm time, which leaves prof. brandt with half a class to lecture to.
I'd have to disagree with the reviews citing this professor as engaging and funny. Lectures consisted of Moerman reading often word for word from the coursepack, and then offering slight summaries of what he had just quoted. He spoke in monotone, as though having decided that most people would sleep through or avoid the course no matter how he lectured . An example of his "dry wit": he interrupted class to ask a woman reading the Spectator in the back row if she would save him the crossword section. Har.
Really nice and funny. You didnt really need to go to the lectures, although they were extremely helpful and if you went to them, you didn't need to do the readings. Mandatory weekly discussion sections and postings. The TAs were really nice and chill.
Readings are very stimulating and interesting. His teaching style, not so. He speaks very slowly which is good for notetaking, but he ALWAYS digresses so that he doesn't finish everything on his agenda. Most of the times we had to stay over for 10-15 minutes for him to jam important info into 5 minutes. He focused on gender/sexuality and the Tokugawa period since he's an expert in that field. Lectures aren't all that important since 70% of it are just digressions.
While Moerman is sometimes funny and always tries to be, the moral of the story is that you won't learn a whole lot from this class. It's not so hard (everything is take home and he discusses the readings in class), but after attendance begins to dwindle, the TAs start marking people absent. Section was usually significantly more entertaining than lectures.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO THE NEGATIVE REVIEWS. This is the Major cultures class to take!!! Trust me. Here is my Major cultures class check-off list, and if this is what you are looking for, go for it: 1. Minimal readings, so-so workload (i mean, the entire core can't be surfaces and knots, but the course textbook is LESS THAN 100 PAGES and written at a 3rd grade reading level) 2. Lectures are optional, if you read. Reading is optional if you go to lecture. 3. He is a NICE NICE NICE guy, and really knowledgable, so you'll learn atleast something about japanese history...which is surprisingly interesting. Sure, he emphasizes gender and sex...but I can think of a lot more boring subjects to emphasize, if he insists on concentrating on one area more than others. Yeah, discussion sections are annoying, but my TA - Steve Wills - was incredible, so just hope for the best. Take the class - its the best way around the requirement.
Prof. Moerman is without a doubt my favorite professor so far at Columbia. As someone else said, the first half of the course might as well be called "Japanese Buddhism", so if you love religion, you'll be in heaven. The class actually dragged toward the middle of the semester, and Prof. Moerman was getting a bit upset at the dwindling attendance; however he is totally open to opinions and suggestions, and his lectures were truly engaging towards the latter half of the semester. As with any other history class, this course covers so many aspects of Japanese history and culture, so don't stop coming to class just because you found a lecture boring; it's probably just that day's topic. You will be amazed at how much you learn, and I already knew quite a bit about Japanese history. The TAs for this course (Federico, Matthew, Collin) were really good as well, and I feel that grading was fair--yes, just as almost any other introductory course, your grades are totally up to your TA, so be sure to attend discussion. It's only 50 minutes a week, and extremely useful. This is a great course to fulfill a requirement, or to take out of personal interest. It's definitely worth knowing about the Japanese and where they come from, especially today, considering present day China-Japanese relations, and that they might join the Security Council.
Federico is nothing like those pain-in-the-ass-TAs oh so common here at Columbia. He can be hyper and can tend to ramble on and on about some aspect of Japanese history--but that's just a testament to his vast knowledge of the topic. Unfortunately for the students planning to take Japanese history courses in the future, he has a scholarship to go study in Japan, which starts either in the fall or spring next year. Anyway, if you're interested in Japanese history, definitely take a class that he's a TA for. He's always available, returns emails promptly, grades fairly and takes care in explanations, and has a great sense of humor. I will truly miss having discussion sections with him.
Don't listen to the negative reviews. Professor Pflugfelder's lectures are comprehensive. He emphasizes sex and gender, but various other aspects of Japanese history are aptly addressed. I have such an appreciation for the Japanese culture after having taken this class. Pflugfelder's sensitivity to gender issues is quite refreshing in a university environment that sometimes seems stiflingly patriarchal. The readings he assigns are deeply interesting; students too lazy to read them miss out. My TA, Reto Hofmann, was also excellent. He gave helpful comments on papers and led seminars in an organized fashion. Take this class!
Even though Japanese History is so rich and interesting Pflugfelder does the worst job of presenting such an interesting material. He somehow connects most historical events to gender and you basically miss the interesting part of the class such as Japanese culture and politics. Yes, studying gender is part of the culture but for Pflugfelder Japanese history is all about gender. Furthermore, the way Pflugfelder talks just makes you fall asleep in a minute. Taking notes is such a pain since it is hard to follow the pace of Pflugfelder. In addition, he always arrives late and class almost ends around 7.35, which is another reason to fall asleep. I am sure that Pflugfelder knows a lot about Japanese history and culture. However, knowing something is as important as being able to present in an interesting way. Apart from Pflugfelder, the readings are interesting, especially readings towards the end of the semester. However, there was way too much reading for a 3-point point class. The questions in the midterm are basically a combination of the lectures and the textbook. So, going to lectures may help but you may also be fine by only reading the textbook. However, if you are patient enough I would recommend attending classes and taking notes. Basically, I would definitely recommend you taking Jap. Civ. but with some other professor.
What a class. A comprehensive overview of Japanese history, civilization and culture until the mid 1900s, the class was never short of fascinating, the readings always engaging, and the lectures incredible. Professor Pflugfelder's vast wealth of knowledge and particular interests -- specifically gendered spaces throughout the different periods of Japanese history -- were the core of a broader narrative that was at once easy and a pleasure to follow. This course was never just a requirement-filler, but I consider myself lucky to have had Plugfelder as the professor. The format of the class -- honking big lecture twice a week, discussion section once a week , coursework postings the night before section -- created a nice balance of information and interaction.
This was without a doubt my favorite class this semester. At first, the class seemed dry, but I found that as time progressed the only thing dry was Professor Moerman's sense of humor. Some memorable moments include an entire class on prostitution and sexual practices in Edo, and a propaganda video from World War II. There was a bit too much emphasis on Buddhism for my taste, but if Religion is your thing, you'll be in heaven for the first part of the semester. I highly recommend this class. The TAs were also great.
While this class should be a relatively painless way to fulfill the Major Cultures requirement, Nicole has managed to make every Tuesday morning one full of dread and disgust as I await her discussion section. In my opinion Nicole is inarticulate, lacks composure, and is frequently unable to provide useful information on topics covered in the course. She is condescending and passive aggressive, and fails to fulfill one of her primary duties as a TA: in my experience she is never answers e-mails quickly, and she often doesn't answerr them at all.
A few friends who I took Japan Civ with used to say I could be a David Lurie scholar for a living. He can really be a riot sometimes, facilitated by his George Steinbrenner lecturing style Â– seeming not to take a breath for 75 minutes. HeÂ’s great about sticking to the syllabus, and the readings follow right through with his lecture material. The TAÂ’s for this class can be annoying, and therefore youÂ’ll really want to keep up with the work Â– prepare for discussions, keep your TA updated on the few projects of the semester. Prof. Lurie will give you his personal opinions on everything in current events about Japan, and heÂ’s a severe liberal, very critical of most newspaper articles and documentaries, which electrifies the class period. Gotta love him.
Great class for getting an introduction to Japanese history. The lectures were a bit boring as all he did was stand there and talk but he's very enthusiastic about the subject and just a plain nice guy. The information presented, however, is very interesting when you go back to review it. The second half of the semester got better since the information was more modern.
Great lectures. Lurie is very engaging. He also knows who the boredoms, guitar wolf and shonen knife are. Maybe he even likes them... I would recommend this course to anyone trying to complete their major cultures requirement.
Lurie is a great prof, one of the best I've had in my 2 years here so far. He's genuinely excited about teaching and he finds the material fascinating. The entire class is lecture, but he shows lots of interesting slides of places and artifacts from Japan so you can actually see what you're learning about. You can tell he puts a lot of time into the lectures and actually wants you to learn something, as opposed to a prof who just wants to get teaching out of the way so he can get back to his research. And Lurie knows his stuff too, he doesn't just spit out historical facts one after the other, he ties events together into larger themes and you learn a lot about Japanese culture too. Like most of the people in my class, I just took this to fulfill the major cultures requirement, but I'm definitely going to take a B or C list course about Japan now, especially if he teaches any more courses. This is definitely one of the best major cultures courses out there!
The subject area is interesting. The lecturer, not so much. Pflugfelder's a great guy, and he is knowledgeable and funny about his area. However, his lectures tended to drag on, and we almost never got through what was planned before the end of the class. If you can tolerate dry lectures (interspersed with humor and interesting anecdotes), then what you learn totally makes up for what you suffer. However, beware if you have a tendency to fall asleep during slow lectures. Logistics: The lectures have little to do with what's on the test, and the discussion sections are pretty worthless but necessary. The midterm was based on the reader, and the final was based on the textbook; this may not always be true, but reading both should prepare you for the tests.
This is a good course for the major cultures requirement. Pflugfelder's lectures run hot and cold, and he tries to infuse them with as much humor as possible. Weekly discussion sections are required and help clarify the material. Pflugfelder is a very easy grader, but watch out for numerous lectures on scat. This is the kind of course that will either turn you into an EALAC major or put you to sleep.