From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

China's Lunar Calendar 2016 09-21

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs"  
⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦ From right to left: ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
This is one in a never-ending series—following the movements of the calendar—in Round and Square perpetuity. It is today's date in the Chinese lunar calendar, along with basic translation and minimal interpretation. Unless you have been studying lunar calendars (and Chinese culture) for many years, you will likely find yourself asking "what does that mean?" I would caution that "it" doesn't "mean" any one thing. There are clusters of meaning, and they require patience, reflection, careful reading, and, well, a little bit of ethnographic fieldwork. The best place to start is the introduction to "Calendars and Almanacs" on this blog. I teach a semester-long course on this topic and, trust me, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the lunar calendar. Some of the material is readily accessible; some of it is impenetrable, even after many years.

As time goes on, I will link all of the sections to lengthy background essays. This will take a while. In the meantime, take a look, read the introduction, and think about all of the questions that emerge from even a quick look at the calendar.
Section One
Solar Calendar Date
Ninth Month, Twenty-First Day
Astral Period Three
Wednesday, September 21

Section Two
Beneficent Stars 
(top to bottom, right to left)
Generational Virtue
Golden Cupboard-Bare

Section Three
Auspicious Hours
(top to bottom, right to left

23:00-01:00 Inauspicious
01:00-03:00 In-Between
03:00-05:00 Inauspicious
05:00-07:00 Inauspicious

07:00-09:00 Inauspicious
9:00-11:00 Auspicious
11:00-13:00 Auspicious
13:00-15:00 In-Between

15:00-17:00 Auspicious
17:00-19:00 Auspicious
19:00-21:00 Auspicious
21:00-23:00 Auspicious

The hours above are for Hong Kong. It is up to you if you want to recalibrate or to assume that the cyclicality of the calendar "covers" the rest of the world. This is a greater interpretive challenge than you might think.

Section Four 
Activities to Avoid  
(top-to-bottom; right to left) 

Kitchen Repairs
Stove Work

Section Five 
Cosmological Information

Twenty-First Day (Eighth Lunar Month)
Cyclical day: bingwu (43/60)
Phase (element): Water
Constellation: Gathering (21/28)
"Day Personality" Cycle: Receive (10/12)

Section Six
Appropriate Activities
and Miscellaneous Information  
(top-to-bottom; right to left)


Appropriate Activities
Venerating Ancestors
Unhitching and Unloading 
The day is overseen by the Four Separations; 
all other activities are not recommended.
Four Separations

Baleful Astral Influences
Upper Amputee
Classified Balefulness

Section Seven
Inauspicious Stars
人 鬼
Person, Ghost


Section Eight
Miscellaneous Activities
碓 灶
Pestle, Stove

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bridges to Theory Assignment 2016

On this date on Round and Square's History 
Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Assignments"
[a] A Bridge(d) RF
The midterm assignment in all of my classes is pivotal in several senses of the term. Of course, the first thing students realize is that it is important—pivotal.  A solid chunk of the grade turns (pivots) on it. The next sense is even more significant, though. The midterm assignment is designed to encourage students to consider all of the work they have done in the first half of the course and to put it together in a midterm assignment that helps them to pivot to the second half of the course. The results of this assignment are especially enjoyable for me to read, since students have engaged the fascinating and surprisingly complex novels Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969). These were written by the extraordinarily versatile writer Evan S. Connell, and told in a "polished fieldnote" sort of vignette style that works beautifully in a social and cultural theory course.

Social and Cultural Theory
Anthropology 206
Midterm Assignment“Bridges to Theory” 

[b] Too-too RF
The Basics 
Review Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, then watch the film in class. Write a review essay of at least 3,000 words (about ten pages) commenting upon some of the many themes found in Evan Connell’s vignettes on the Bridges. Note the assignment title above, and show some of the many connections to the theoretical materials we have studied up to this point in the course. Because it is a review essay, you will be evaluating the examples in both the film and the two novels. Use your study of the New York Review of Books to craft an effective essay that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Review the New York Review of Books questions on the syllabus if you need a reminder.

Although this assignment is deliberately open-ended (allowing you to use any number of interpretive strategies), do not forget its role as a “pivot” in our course. Your work should engage, on some level, the full range of our materials from the first seven weeks of the course (your class notes, reading notes, abstracts, and even quizzes will be useful as you proceed). If you take the assignment seriously, it will give you a solid foundation—and significant momentum—for the second half of the course. 
[c] Ostentation RF

Review Essay 
You have been reading good review essays from the New York Review of Books for several weeks. Now is the time to write one that has a distinctly “theoretical” focus. 

The basic idea is as follows. A good review essay has a two-pronged approach. It is, on the one hand, a “review” of the books and the film. By this, I mean that you need to engage examples from the lives of the Bridges. This should not be at all difficult, given the immediacy of much of the material. In the “rest” of the essay you should show how the themes in the novels can be seen in the wider perspective of social and cultural theory. In other words, how might the essays and lectures we have read in Anthropology and Theory and other texts connect to the specific issues in the novels you have read (or, from another perspective, the pile of “fieldnotes” you have been studying)? To be sure, you will blend these approaches, but how you do so will be part of your writing strategy. We’ll discuss this in class.

[d] Pineapple Bread RF
Additional Notes 
This assignment asks you to engage the two novels and to review all of the work you have done thus far in the course. It does not require you to do “research,” and substantial outside work will almost certainly be counter-productive. For example, spending two or three pages on the history of 1930s Kansas City will be far less productive than spending those pages examining the world of the Bridges or theoretical perspectives that might help us understand them better. Background information is occasionally useful (and you may possibly have some from previous reading or coursework), but do not make the mistake of providing so much “background” that you don’t deal fully with the assignment itself. Again, with novels as “up front” as these, this should not be a problem.
[e] Tower RF

The greater challenge is to “use” our theoretical materials well. Plot out some of the themes (or scenes) in the novels and take notes to make sure you have dealt with the full range of possibilities in the theoretical materials. Your skills in spotting themes in the Moore, Bourdieu, and Moberg books will pay off a great deal in this assignment, as will the general contextual and theoretical knowledge you have gained in our discussions. You have all of Week 7 to pursue this project, and you should use it to review all of the readings and class discussions (not to mention themes) that we have studied thus far in the semester.

1. This assignment is meant to “tie together” much of the work you have done this semester. Just as on weekly quizzes, be sure to use the full range of your “sources” in your interpretations—classroom analyses, Moore, Bourdieu, and Eriksen.  As you know, the theoretical essays in Moore and the close reading of Bourdieu are the heart of the class, and I would like to see connections to them in your essays.
[f] Tarquin Plan RF

2. Don’t forget that I will be evaluating this assignment with the assumption that you are trying to explain these matters to “intelligent non-specialists.” That means that I do not want you to “skip” those portions that you know I know. I want you to explain them. I want you to be the expert who is explaining these matters to someone who does not know much about cultural anthropology, but is certainly able to follow a complex argument. Imagine, for example, that you are writing for your FYI professor and those you have in other classes this term, with moi looking over her shoulder. Keep your letter reader in mind, too. It will serve you well.

3.   Follow standard Chicago Manual of Style citation form, and use my style sheet as you proceed. This is a “formal” review essay, and the style sheet’s guidelines should be followed closely.  

4.   There should be a short bibliography of sources (class books and any outside materials that you have consulted) at the end of your document.

5.   Be sure that you fill out a “paper checklist” and attach it to your essay. This checklist will be sent to you as an attachment.

6.  Good luck. There is more than enough material to write any number of essays. Choose several good points, scenes, or themes. Then write an essay.  
And then enjoy your break (i.e. do it on time).

Due by 10:00 p.m. on Friday, October 7  (Send as a .pdf File to

Use the word count feature of your software and put the word total at the bottom of the essay, e.g. “3,062 words."
[g] India Louvre(s) Paris RF

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Confucius and Social Theory: Research Prospectus Assignment

HIST 310

Confucius and Social Theory

How to Write a Research Prospectus[1]

[a] Historical Re-sage RF
Due by 10:00 p.m. on Friday, October 7
What Is A Prospectus? 
A prospectus is a “road map” to your individual project for this seminar. It will explain the specific, focused subject of your project, but it also articulates the larger significance of this particular study. Think about that carefully—the best papers (and “prospecti” move in two seemingly contradictory (but only seemingly contradictory) directions. The best research papers are “small and focused”…but with very large implications. Every good research paper (or academic article or book) considers a seemingly small question, but then shows why a full answer to that question matters far beyond the details at the center of the manuscript. Your job in a research prospectus is to show both of these things—why the details matter…and what is their implication for a larger argument

For example, an essay considering the James Legge’s late-nineteenth century translation of the Analects into English would not only explore the smaller issues of how Legge used an individualistic and Christian idiom in his translation, but also the larger issue of how the such linguistic choices shape the way that Westerners perceive Chinese history, philosophy, and culture
[b] Workin' RF

A prospectus summarizes the work that you have already done on your project. It also outlines what you still intend to do. The prospectus for your project should be accompanied by an annotated bibliography. Together your prospectus and bibliography will serve as a progress report of what you have accomplished and clarify (for both of us) what remains to be done.

How Should I Organize My Prospectus?  
Your prospectus should be 2,000-3,000 words long (6-10 pages, double-spaced). Give the title for your project and your name. Think carefully about your title (think about titles in the New York Review of Books. The first paragraph must clearly state the subject of your research (your “small” issue) and explain its larger significance (the “large” issue).

The body of your prospectus should explain how you will go about addressing your intended subject. Think about how you will divide the prospectus. Do you need section (think again of the NYRB)? What sources are you using? What is your central, key primary source (think back to our conversations about this in class). What other primary sources do you have, and how will they affect your project. What are your secondary sources? How much, realistically, can you study in depth, and what must you go through more quickly (this is a reality of life)?
[c] Opening RF

Going further, what kind of information do you hope to glean from your sources (distinguish between your central primary source, your other primary sources, and your secondary sources)?  How much of the work have you completed and how much remains to be done?  (in this case, obviously, you have yet to write the paper, but you should be able to outline, in prose, the major elements of your argument by the time you finish your prospectus).

The conclusion to your prospectus should summarize your preliminary conclusions. You might also discuss whether or not you expect these to change significantly on the basis of the work remaining to be done. End it with strength. Don’t just restate what you said in the first paragraph.

What Should Be Included in the Bibliography? 
Your bibliography is a separate document (and a new word-count). If you wish to put them all together in one document (as a .pdf file), that is fine. If you want to send the prospectus and bibliography as separate documents, that is fine, too. Bibliographical citations should follow the format of the Chicago Manual of Style (as you well know by now). A brief annotation (2-4 sentences) should follow each citation. In it explain what the item is (what kind of source is it? what perspective does it take on your topic? How, specifically, does it contribute to our knowledge of the subject?) and how you will be using it. Bibliographical entries (only) should be single spaced with a double space between each entry. Try to be concise and to avoid being too repetitious in your entries.
Due by 10:00 p.m. on Friday, October 7  
[d] Informational RF

[1] Based on assignments presented by Drs. Ellen Joyce and Gail Terry.