Japanese History through the Lenses of Arts, Design & Pop Culture

October 17, 2020
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Online Professional Development Course for Teachers

In this course, teachers will explore how different types of visual forms have been used from pre-modern to contemporary Japanese history, and how these visual primary sources can engage their students. Divided over four interactive online units, this 30-hour online course will help participants develop the resources and skills to create and refine lesson plans for middle school and high school social studies, art, English and Language Arts, Global History and Geography classes by utilizing primary sources, focusing on visual arts. Artworks such as paintings and prints depict Japan’s changing foreign policy during the Age of Exploration; illustration, photography and films will document modernization of Japan in the late 19th – early 20th centuries, and the development of imperialism and wars; and Japan’s urban architectural and industrial designs reflect Japan’s recovery in the postwar period. Animation, fashion and other pop culture forms would connect historical past to the present and its impact in the global society for students to understand.

Two P-credit and/or 30 hour CTLE credit are available from the NYC Department of Education for NYC in-service teachers. To receive PD credit, participants must also register for this course on the ASPDP website.

Online Format and Participation Requirements:
The program consists of four units – each unit includes pre-recorded video lectures, live lecture and Q&A sessions, as well as useful assignments. Video lectures are prepared by various experts of Japanese history, arts, and culture. Reading materials, primary source, and pedagogy discussions will equip teachers to use arts and visual resources effectively in their classrooms.

Registration Information:
Teachers who take all 4 Units (2 P/30 hour CTLE) will be prioritized for this Free course.

Please note that this program is at capacity. For any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

Course Schedule:

UNIT 1: Introduction & Japan’s Civil Wars and Tokugawa Regime
October 9—17, 2020: Video Sessions & Reading Assignments
October 17, 9:00 AM—12:00 PM EDT: Live Lecture

  • Introduction Framing Exercise: Studying Japan and Using the Visual Arts as a Tool
    This short introductory session will provide teachers with some exercise using visual art to experience and discuss how different cultural perspectives can lead to different understanding in arts; How can we start to use the visual arts as a tool for studying culture and for incorporating various views and understanding of history.
  • Japan’s Civil Wars and Tokugawa Regime
    Participants will examine the political rise of the warrior (samurai) class to the stable period under the Tokugawa government and its isolation policy though various art forms and designs including traditional painting, prints, fashion, architecture and garden in relation to historical events, invention of technology and the social and economical shift during the periods.

Unit 2: Meiji Period (1868-1912) to World War II
October 23—31, 2020: Video Sessions & Reading Assignments
October 31, 9:00 AM—1:00 PM EDT: Live Lecture

The Meiji period represented a major reorientation of Japan domestically, in its relation with its East Asian neighbors, and in its role in the world. Both the content and form of Japanese visual arts, fashion, and architecture reflected these transformations and will be discussed in this session. Second video and live session will explore Japan before, during, and after WWII through examples such as illustration, poster, early animation, and photography. Leading from early Showa period with particular focus on WWII and its effect on the Japanese society, economy, as well as art forms in the 1920’s and 30’s, educators will examine emerging changes in Japanese society and culture.

  • Workshop: Teaching Japanese Internment Using Visual Resources
    While previous session introduced art and history in Japan, this short workshop examines Japanese American history during WWII. This workshop equips participants with new interdisciplinary teaching strategies with use of documentary photos and videos that reinforce historical understanding.

Unit 3: Japanese Architecture and Designs – from Traditional to Modern and Contemporary
November 6—14, 2020: Video Sessions & Reading Assignments
November 14, 9:00 AM—1:00 PM EDT: Live Lecture

After WWII, many major cities in Japan were severely destroyed from the fire-bombing and the dropping of two atomic bombs. This session introduces traditional Japanese architecture that survived the war, and the resulting postwar urban planning that was critical to Japan’s economic recovery. In the later session, participants will examine Japan’s economic miracle between post-World War II and the end of the Cold War through the lens of design. Following Japan’s growth into the world’s second largest economic power, industrial, commercial and artistic design that impacted Japan and the global economy will be discussed.

Unit 4: Japan’s Soft Power, Pop Culture and Manga
November 25—December 5, 2020: Video Sessions & Reading Assignments
December 5, 9:00 AM—1:00 PM EDT: Live Lecture

Participants will explore Japan’s growing soft power from 50’s to 80’s, as well as during the Japan’s economic stagnation, the “Lost Decade” (1991-2000), to the present. The lecture surveys youth culture through aspects such as manga, anime, video games, fashion, and popular film such as Godzilla, as a reflection of Japanese society. In the later session, participants will also investigate some of the Japan’s pop culture characters from Manga and animation, and explore the connection with visual traditions and their representation of shifting customs.

Japan Society Teacher Programs made possible by generous funding from an anonymous funder.
  • Saturday, October 17, 2020
  • 9:00 am