This post from Brain Pickings describes and recommends a book about women who fought in the American Civil War. These women weren’t doing “typical” (stereotypical) women’s jobs like nursing or cooking. It’s a great reminder that women have so many more options in life today. Well, in many societies, anyway. It’s also a chance to think about why countries go to war, with other countries or within their own borders, and why citizens choose (or choose not) to fight.
Can you make some good language usage questions and discussion questions using this post? I think this excerpt is full of ideas:
“So why did women do this? For some, like their male counterparts, the motivation was purely patriotic. Others did if for love, taking to the battlefields in order to remain close to a husband, lover, fiancé, father, or brother. But for many, the reason was economic — an army private made $13 a month, roughly double what a seamstress, laundress, or maid would make. At the time of the Civil War, women, unable to vote or have bank accounts and still subject to Victorian ideals of homemaking and motherhood as the sole purpose of female existence, had neither personal nor political agency. In fact, these female soldiers tended to come from particularly marginalized groups — immigrants, the working class, farm girls, and women living below the poverty line.”
According to this article in the Economist, the average peak-bloom date for cherry blossoms in Kyoto is getting earlier, probably because of climate change.
Here are some ukiyo-e featuring cherry blossoms with explanations in English. This is of a hanami party from the mid-19th century:
- Did you enjoy a hanami this year? Where do you think are the best places for different types of hanami (walking around type, sitting and eating/drinking type)?
- How would you explain the word “hanami” to someone who does not speak Japanese, has never been here, and doesn’t know much about Japan?
- Do you associate cherry blossoms more with entrance ceremonies or graduation ceremonies? If this trend continues and cherry blossoms continue to bloom earlier, what do you think will happen to this tradition?
- In this excerpt from The Tale of Genji, it says that they celebrated the cherry blossoms in “the second month”. But they followed a different calendar in the Heian Period, didn’t they? What would that be today? Have you read Genji? What do you remember about it?
The Google Doodle for January 30 in the US is/was celebrating the birthday of Fred Korematsu, an American citizen who was imprisoned during World War II because he was of Japanese descent.
Read Google’s page about him.
Read more on Reason.com: “Today Is Fred Korematsu’s Birthday, Which Seems About Right”
A 10-minute documentary:
For several years, I was also curating a Tools site for students. I decided to stop updating that and to gradually move the more useful tools from that site to this Topics site, adding new tools as I come across them. Here’s a new one.
“a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came.” (from their About page)
You can sign up for a daily email, or you can browse the archives, which go back to January 2006.
Here is a recent excerpt I enjoyed, from January 4th. It’s about how dangerous the drinking water used to be, and so instead of drinking water, people drank beer.
It’s from a 2016 book titled Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History, by Steven Grasse.
“It was not for religious freedom nor by divine providence that our ancestors [the Pilgrims] so fatefully settled at Plymouth Rock. It was because we were running out of beer. … (read the rest of the excerpt)
It reminds me of a scene from “Back the the Future” (part 3) when Marty goes back to the Old West and asks for water at a saloon.