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Takaki: Part One, entire pp. 3-71


Please write TWO discussion questions for EACH assigned chapter in Part I of Takaki’s A Different Mirror.  Start your own thread and label each chapter .  You may add to it as you go.  So for example, you may write your first post with two questions after you finish chapter one.  A week later you can come back and add to YOUR OWN post and write your questions for chapter 2.  Please do not comment on other students’ posts but I do recommend reading through them. There should be a minimum of six questions for Part One as there are three chapters.  

You will not be able to see your fellow students’ questions until you post yours. 

What is an analytical question?

I am not looking for factual questions but rather open-ended analytical questions that ask about Takaki’s larger themes and arguments–the kind you would get on a midterm or final exam.  Really think about what his argument for each chapter is as you come up with the question(s) for that chapter.  In fact, I hope to use some of your questions for that purpose (maybe somewhat modified).  

Analytical questions are NOT opinion.  Imagine  you are the professor writing exam questions based on this book your students were assigned. You are not asking whether they “agree” with historical phenomena in the past or whether something “was justified.” Your questions should be able to be answered by using Takaki and exploring his larger arguments. 

Finally, don’t ask things external to the text. Asking a student to compare how Mexicans were treated in 1848 after the Mexican War (covered in Takaki chapter 7) with how Latinos are treated today in America is an unfair and unanswerable question.  It would require the student to do research beyond this book and learn about immigration laws in 2020.  All of your questions must be answerable using this book. 

A couple more things:

  • This is not a novel. Novels are fiction.  Refer to Takaki’s book as a historical monograph or a secondary source.  Or simply, as a book.  
  • Give you students enough information–don’t ask gotcha questions.  Don’t expect your students to have memorized the chapter. If you’re going to ask a question about a specific law, like the Geary Act of 1892 for example, lay out in your question what that law is. Because again, you’re not quizzing the students on facts. GIVE THEM THE FACT and make them interpret Takaki’s argument. What role does the Geary Act play in Takaki’s larger argument about the Master Narrative for example? 
  • Use Takaki in your questions. It’s HIS arguments we are analyzing. 

For example:

Ronald Takaki introduces the concept of the “master narrative” of American history in the introduction to the book. What is the grand narrative and how does Takaki use it to tell his story? 

What are some of the different ways Takaki argued the colonists from Europe in America defined “civilization” and why is this important?

How did the English treatment of the Irish people shape the narrative for what would happen to the Native Americans when the colonists arrived in America according to Takaki?

How and why did race, according to Takaki, come to define the condition of servitude in 17th century America?

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