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Despite having almost zero knowledge of Japanese history or culture going in, I really enjoyed this class. Full disclosure: Kanesaka didn’t teach us during the first two weeks of class (We had Prof. Duthie instead, who’s also really good), but that didn’t interrupt the pacing of the class. Kirk Kanesaka is an awesome dude with lots of good anecdotes, and he is a clear and engaging lecturer. However, he moves very quickly through slides and doesn’t post them online, so pay close attention to what he says, or get that information from a friend. The exams aren’t terribly difficult as they’re a good balance of short answer and essay questions. The textbook isn’t absolutely necessary, but it is super helpful when it comes to reviewing for the exams, and you can get it pretty cheap depending on where you look. My TA, Victoria, was a little critical when it came to grading the weekly reading responses, but her discussion section was useful and interesting nonetheless. Overall, I would definitely recommend this class.
His lectures are kinda fast if taking into account that he does not post the slides, but you'll be totally fine if you miss a point or two because you only need to choose like 2/3 of the questions you know in the exam to answer. Other than that he is not so impressive probably because he misses a lot of classes. The guest lectures by Professor Duthie in the first two weeks are pretty good though.
This is an easy GE class with light workload.
Grades are composed of four parts: Final 40%, Midterm 30%, Reading Response to the assigned materials (due every week, but you get to drop the lowest two out of eight) 15%, Discussion Participation 15%. This class is not curved, so you have to earn 90% to get an A-, 94% for an A, etc. But you don't have to worry about the grades, because: 1. Tests are non-cumulative, so you don't have to remember everything for the final; 2. Tests are graded by TAs, who are more willing to give you points instead of taking them away from you; 3. Prof. Kanesaka now gives you all the possible (3 in total) essay prompts that may appear on your tests a week prior to your test, so you can be fully prepared. Essay part counts around 30-40% of the tests; 4. The ID or Short Responses are all from the provided study guide. And he even lets you choose from a range of events or people, so if you forget about one or two of the listed, you can still get full credit. 5. TAs tend to give you full or nearly full credit for your reading responses and discussion participation as long as you show that you've worked on those. In some sense, you get those 30% for free.
You don't need the textbook at all, because all contents come from the lectures and the reading materials assigned (which, if you do your reading responses, you'll definitely have a good understanding of). But the slides used in the class will not be posted to CCLE, so you'll have to take notes during the lectures or make sure you have a friend there.
Prof. Kanesaka definitely loves his class and is very well prepared during his lectures. He is always funny and arrange the lectures, though overwhelmed by historical events, in an interesting way. He also has anime, songs, and plays intertwined in his lectures, and his singing of the plays is amazing. He's tremendously helpful and always makes sure to take questions during the lectures. I'll definitely take his Anime class (Japan 75) in the future.
Also!!! TAs this year are all amazing, especially Victoria, who really helped me a lot with the material. Just that I can't take her section next quarter. :(
I loved this class! Although the actual lecture was boring occasionally, I was able to be engaged most of the time. Sometimes Kirk will go fast through the slides, especially when we had the holiday off. The TAs are very helpful, and I loved going to discussion. This is a super easy GE, and I would gladly take it again. There is a lot of information to remember, but most of it won't show up on tests so you will be fine.
This class was a pretty easy GE, but nothing all that special. You can tell Professor Kanesaka is very invested in the material, but the way that he lectures is very inconsistent: sometimes he makes the material very engaging, other times you want to fall asleep. This class is effectively a history class that covers Japan from 2000 BC to the present, with an emphasis on elements of culture, the arts, and politics. The workload is extremely light (a 300 word response to 2 readings posted on CCLE each week, if your TA is lenient it's very easy to BS) except around the midterm and non-cumulative final when you need to cram. The textbook while ""required"" is not at all necessary, as all the information you need for the midterm and final is taught in lecture (it is important to note that lectures aren't posted on CCLE, so BE SURE that you go to lecture or have a friend in the class).
This class was not the easiest GE but it was still fairly easy. We had a reading response every week, graded on content. There were no papers, but this was made up for with the essay section and short answer portions of the midterm and final. The final luckily was not cumulative, it just contained material after the midterm to the end of week 10, which was good because there is a lot of content in the textbook which made this not the easiest GE. The slides were not posted, so you have to take your own thorough notes. Professor Kanesaka was passionate about the material and delivered decent lectures. We also got to watch a few snippets of anime if you're into that.
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