Grading and Requirements
Discussion Questions: 25% of final grade
Discussion Participation: 25% of final grade
Semester writing (Short papers or long paper): 25% of final grade
Final Presentation: 25% of final grade

Writing Assignments
Students can decide between two choices for course writing: the first option is to write a final term paper at the end of the semester. I expect these papers to be between 20 and 30 pages and to be an insightful analysis of some aspect of the course. I imagine this option being most attractive and productive for more advanced students who can roll this writing into a significant portion of a thesis chapter. The second option is to write three short (5 to 8 page) papers over the course of the semester. I imagine this writing to be more helpful to students at earlier moments in their careers who might want to explore more topics with less depth. In either case, you will create your own topics, although I am always happy to be one voice in any conversation you have about it.

Discussion Questions
The most regular assignment in this course should take no more than a few minutes a week: By 12 midnight the night before our class meets, every student must email me FOUR open-ended discussion questions that directly concerns the reading due. These questions should not be inquiries for more factual information. One quick way to decide if you have generated a discussion question is to ask yourself if you could find the answer to your question by searching the internet. If you could – if you are asking for facts – then it is not a discussion question. All questions will be graded on a credit / no credit basis, which means as long as you turn something in on time, you will receive full credit.

In order to keep things organized, I ask that you send your discussion questions only to < discussion.questions.japan [at] >. If you have other questions or want to contact me about anything else, please use my regular email address: aalexy [at]

I ask you to send me your questions because I am interested in what has made you think, what you think deserves more attention, or what is puzzling. More generally, I want to reinforce the idea that we should all be generating questions as we read, rather than looking for the "right" answers. Further, as I will discuss in class, it is actually quite difficult to come up with good questions and learning to do so is a skill. Please take this opportunity to be creative. Don't be afraid to ask big questions, but please keep that day's readings in mind. Always feel free to think across the readings and discussions.

I also think the discussion questions can be a helpful resource when you’re trying to figure out a paper topic. Think through the questions that have been posed (your own or those written by your colleagues) and see what sparks a possible paper.

Final Presentations
Like all graduate seminars, this course furthers the production of knowledge but should also contribute to professionalization. To those ends, the last weeks of our semester together will give students the opportunity to practice public speaking in formats that will be expected at national conferences. Imaging that our course themes make up a conference panel, each student will give a 10-minute presentation that fits within the themes. You are welcome to draw on your own fieldwork, outside research, or further theorizing. The ideas you present are certainly important – you need a thesis! – but the style of your presentation is equally vital. We will discuss the process in class and more details will be on the course website.

Office Hours and Consultations
I am always happy to talk with you, via email or in person. Please come to my office hours, and bring your ideas, musings, and / or rough drafts. I believe writing and learning are long-term processes and I will reward students who take this seriously. I am happy to consider revisions or second drafts of writing assignments, as long as students spend mental energy substantially reconsidering what they write.

Academic Honesty
My policies conform to the University’s policies. Let me know if you have any questions.

Late Work
I will accept work turned in past its deadline but the grade will be reduced three points for each day late. If something is due at 5pm and it comes in at 5:01pm, it will lose 3 points. If you have trouble meeting deadlines, I strongly recommend you convince yourself that work is due earlier than it really is.

Students are expected to attend all class meetings, and be prepared to think, talk, and reflect in them. I will make all lecture presentations available on the course website, and will also record all the course discussions. If you miss class you have the responsibility to listen to what you missed.

Course recordings
All class meetings are recorded (using an audio recorder). Those recordings are available through Canvas. To find them, log in to Canvas, and then click the Media Gallery tab.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
I share the University of Michigan’s commitment to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities.  Please talk with me if you have a disability and would be aided by any accommodation. Request for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office located at G664 Haven Hall.  The SSD phone number is 734-763-3000.  Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (VISA) form.  Please present this form to me at the beginning of the term, or as soon as you get it. Everything is confidential.

Problems and Dangers

With other members of our diverse community, I am working to make this university a safe space for all people. To those ends, please know that if you face violence, threats, bullying or other difficult situations, there are people trained to help you:

Confidential support and academic advocacy can be found with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) on their 24-hour crisis line, 734-936-3333 and at Alleged violations can be non-confidentially reported to the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) at Reports to law enforcement can be made to University of Michigan Police Department at 734-763-3434.

The Student Life office offers a portal to many services and types of support. Check out this long list of possibilities and feel free to contact them also if you, or someone you know, can’t figure out who to talk to.

If you are needing help and puzzled about where to go or who to talk with, feel free to reach out to me.