The following teaching portfolio provides a guide to my experience as a primary instructor as well as a graduate student instructor (GSI) at the University of Michigan. The following links are provided chronologically and include course titles and course descriptions.
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For examples of pedagogy and public engagement, please browse my Padlet collection by clicking the paper crane to the right.

HIST 307/EAS 404: The Written Word in Japan: Prehistory to 1600
[upper-level undergraduate/graduate seminar]

Primary Instructor: Paula R. Curtis

Course Description:

In premodern Japan, text and writing had the power to imbue swords with ritual meaning, evoke the pathos of cherry blossoms, or reveal means of salvation. People from all walks of life produced and consumed the written word in different ways, whether they hoped to shape military regimes or simply send messages to loved ones, as we might today. In what ways did textuality (or, in some cases, its absence or conscious rejection) shape Japan’s social, political, economic, and religious development? What is a “text”? How does understanding its use by diverse peoples across centuries challenge our underlying assumptions about how documents, writing, and communication function in society? Surveying these issues from prehistory to 1600, this course will use writing traditions and documentary culture as a lens through which to understand Japanese history and ways of being in Japan’s premodern world. Students will use primary and secondary readings to discuss core issues in writing and textual culture, such as language, orality, transmission, translation, gender, genre, communication, and visuality. A complementary emphasis on how we, as modern readers, writers, and scholars, interpret and use written materials will further provide students with new strategies for thinking about how history is recorded, consumed, and evaluated. No previous knowledge of Japanese or Japanese history is required for this course.

HIST 393: Looking for Asian Americans at UM and in Michigan: Capturing 150 years of Lived Experiences and Raw Voices
[undergraduate History Lab research course]

Primary Instructor: Hitomi Tonomura

Teaching Assistant & Digital Consultant: Paula R. Curtis

Course Description:

This is a project-based course that explores the two centuries of history and legacy of Asians, Asian-Americans and the Pacific-Islanders in the state of Michigan, especially at the University of Michigan. Despite the impressive presence and fascinating life stories of various AAPI residents in Michigan, relatively little is known. Students in this course will help to showcase some of their stories. The goals of this class are to discover, analyze, interpret, and represent the histories of Asians, Asian Americans and the Pacific Islanders, who made the state of Michigan their home in the last two centuries. Many were involved in the University of Michigan, as students, teachers, and administrators, while some were concentrated in urban areas and started a business, or worked in industries. Still others, the most difficult to locate, dispersed and settled in the quiet countryside without the notice of the media or the community. Students work with classmates to research in the archives, contact local organizations, interview people if appropriate, and contextualize their findings to create a meaningful narrative and visual representations in a digital format. Students will come to "own" the project outcomes as a highly relevant and meaningful experience, that can be shared with the public.

HIST 195: Swords, Axes, and Spades: Writing Social Diversity into Medieval Japan
[freshman writing seminar]

Primary Instructor: Paula R. Curtis

Course Description:

Medieval Japan has long been seen through lenses of popular culture: samurai warfare, bushidō, castles, and, more broadly, comparisons to feudal Europe and the knights that defined it. Beyond these stereotypes, however, is a far richer and more complex society than seen in most two-hour films at the box office. From the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, Japan underwent vast transformations at all levels of society, from the rapid developments in agriculture and the expansion of the warrior class to the diversification of commercial professions and the economic decline of court nobility. Society teetered uneasily on the brink of something new with each passing century, making medieval Japan much more than simply “The Age of the Warrior.” This course will examine not only the contexts that produced these changes in society, but also the historical and scholarly frameworks within which they have been examined. What about medieval Japan is, in fact, ‘medieval’? Was Japan a ‘feudal’ society like Europe and what does that mean? How do we incorporate farmers, artisans, merchants, religious figures, women, and others into narratives supposedly defined by a “world of warriors”? This course aims to turn a critical eye on our ways of understanding history by questioning our present knowledge of Japan’s medieval past.

HIST 205: Modern East Asia
[undergraduate survey]

Primary Instructor: Pär Cassel

Graduate Student Instructor: Paula R. Curtis

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to modern China, Korea, and Japan from 1600 to the present, with emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It covers the following topics: China's progressive decline and rejuvenation, the impact of imperialism, the rise and development of the PRC; the struggles of Korea, its colonization by Japan; liberation and division into the two Koreas, and the rising economic status of the South; and the end of feudalism in Japan, the building of a modern state and economy, Japanese imperialism, postwar recovery, and the rise to super-power status. Taking a broad comparative perspective on East Asia, the course explores the inter-relations between political economy, society, and culture in each country within an emerging modern world system.

HIST 210: Early Medieval Europe, 300-1000
[undergraduate survey]

Primary Instructor: Paolo Squatriti

Graduate Student Instructor: Paula R. Curtis

Course Description:

The course covers the period when the first true 'Europe' was born. It covers the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the western Mediterranean, and the development of successor states in northwestern Europe, like the 'barbarian' monarchies, and the multiethnic empires of Charlemagne and the Ottonians up to 1000. Main themes are the development of new kinds of community among European people (Christian monasticism, feudalism, ethnic solidarity), new economic systems, and relations with the earliest Islamic states and with the Byzantine empire.

HIST 205: Modern East Asia
[undergraduate survey]

Primary Instructor: Pär Cassel

Graduate Student Instructor: Paula R. Curtis

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to modern China, Korea, and Japan from 1600 to the present, with emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It covers the following topics: China's progressive decline and rejuvenation, the impact of imperialism, the rise and development of the PRC; the struggles of Korea, its colonization by Japan; liberation and division into the two Koreas, and the rising economic status of the South; and the end of feudalism in Japan, the building of a modern state and economy, Japanese imperialism, postwar recovery, and the rise to super-power status. Taking a broad comparative perspective on East Asia, the course explores the inter-relations between political economy, society, and culture in each country within an emerging modern world system.

HIST 204: East Asia: Early Transformations
[undergraduate survey]

Primary Instructor: Christian de Pee

Graduate Student Instructor: Paula R. Curtis

Course Description:

This course offers an overview of more than three thousand years of East Asian history, from ca. 1600 BCE through ca. 1800 CE. Since every such survey must be selective, this course will emphasize political, social, and cultural transformations. Aided by the course textbook, we will inquire into the nature of political power, the succession of dynasties and military regimes, the growth and spread of religions, and the transformation of family structures, economies, and diplomatic relations. The course will introduce the different, distinct histories of China, Korea, and Japan, but will also chart the interactions between these cultures, following the travels of monks and merchants, diplomats and conquerors, across the islands and continents. The primary-source readings for the lectures, and especially for the discussion sections, will offer an opportunity to see these changing cultures and landscapes through the eyes of contemporaries: early Chinese philosophers, Korean royal officials, Japanese court ladies, even European travelers. The primary-source readings will also give occasion to reflect on the origins and nature of historical knowledge, thereby making this course not only an introduction to East Asian history, but also an introduction to history as an academic discipline.