Instructions for Writing the Document and Review Essays Dr. Hayes

TEA in CHINA and JAPAN – Comparative Essay Assignment

  1. Read all of the assigned book(s). If writing a “Book Review” please read and refer to the entire text.

If writing a “Comparative Book Essay” read and refer to both texts.

  1. Reread your selected document carefully or at least refer to any notes you have taken! Primary

sources and books do not speak for themselves, they have to be interpreted. It is necessary to try to

understand what it means and to figure out what the source can tell us about the past. What do you learn

or understand about its topic from the evidence in the documents themselves? Your goal is not to

critique them or the world they reveal, but to discover as much as you can about that world! You are

expected to use what you have learned from your textbook and in class to help you interpret the

documents. Please do not turn in a “book report”…

  1. If there are questions provided with the document, consider them carefully and use them to help you

analyze and develop a thesis for your essay. Keep the focus on the document. There is the opportunity

to address your own opinions toward the document in this assignment, but that is not the core of what

you are doing here! An analysis of the document as it is and applies to wider issues is what you are

trying to get at.

  1. Write your first draft. Establish your thesis (main idea) clearly in your essay.
  2. Begin by identifying the document, the author, its source and its context, its

audience, and its original purpose.

  1. The Author: who is he or she? What is his or her background? How does this

affect or shape the document? (if at all) what bone does the author have to

pick? You should ALWAYS read the preface and introduction—most often

you can find some glimmering of the motive and author’s intent there…

  1. The Topic: what are the major plot themes for the document? What time

period does it encompass? Who are the main actors? Is the author trying to

refute someone else here? What is the point the author is trying to make (ie.

what is the THESIS)?

iii. Sources: where does the author go for information he or she uses? You might

want to check out the footnotes (if there are any) and bibliography (if any)?

  1. For a comparative essay, this should take up about a third (1/3) to half (1/2)

of your essay as you are comparing two or more books.

  1. Do not merely summarize the content of the document. You may summarize

general information or facts in your own words, but use them to explain your

interpretation of the document. Do not quote from secondary sources, including

your textbook or online (crap) sources or introductions or class-time lectures. You

are expected to develop your own interpretation based on what you have learned in

this course. This process will take patience, perception, practice, and, perhaps,

painful hard work, but you will be developing an important skill as well as the tools

and attitudes you need to develop to think on your own.

  1. Answer the provided question at the end of this document. This should take up about

a third (1/3) or at least a quarter (1/4) of your essay.

  1. Finally, add something of your own Experience: try to bring something from your

own experience to the essay. You should know more about the subject than the book

tells us. Try to use that independent knowledge to explain the book and your attitudes

Instructions for Writing the Document and Review Essays Dr. Hayes

toward it. Try to make use of a broad part of your education when you write a review

or essay. If you know of other books or if you have thoughts about some of the facts

the author may have overlooked, mention in your work. This should, however, take

up no more than a quarter (1/4) of the essay…

  1. To support your interp/review, use and cite evidence from the source(s). You may

also quote from the documents for evidence or to make a point, but whatever you do,

you must explain every quotation and it must have a purpose in your

analysis/argument. Do not “over quote” or let quotations substitute for analysis or

narrative. Always follow up a quote with a sentence or two of your analysis or how

the quote pertains to your overall essay (and analysis).

  1. Cite these documents in footnotes on the same page, specifically referring to them

by their title and the number of the line, chapter, paragraph, or whatever units in that

document, as you explain what we learn from the document. Even when you do not

quote directly, but only refer to an item in the document as part of your evidence,

you should cite the source for the reader’s information. References/# to footnotes

should be placed at the end of sentences.

  1. Notes should follow this format: Author last name, short title (italics),

page # (NOT p/pp. just the number). Do not forget the punctuation.

  2. Style matters! Follow these instructions:
  3. Keep your word choices interesting and accurate. Do not use the same words


  1. Vary sentence length: get to your point simply and directly.
  2. Rarely use first person “I.” You cite the sources for other people’s opinions, so the

reader assumes that all unreferenced opinions and interpretations are your own. Do

not use second person “you.”

  1. Titles of books, plays and complete works are italicized (or underlined). Other titles

need quotation marks (“…”).

  1. Use appropriate formal grammar, including:
  2. Consistent verb tenses (past is best and correct in nearly all

circumstances – this is, after all, a HISTORY course).

  1. Noun-verb number agreement and appropriate pronouns (no

“he/she” or “his/her”). Do not randomly capitalize nouns.

  1. No slang—no contractions.
  2. Type and staple your paper. It should be about 5 to 7 pages long, double spaced with page numbers.

Put your full name on the paper somewhere at the top of the first page. No title page required.

  1. Reread and revise your paper. Proofread, Proofread, PROOFREAD!! Have a fellow student

or two, colleagues who are English, History, or other Humanities students, the Learning Center, or

someone (SOMEONE) read your paper for stylistic and logic issues at least once before you turn it in.

  1. Document essays/reviews are due at the beginning of class on the day noted in the syllabus. See the

course syllabus for further information.

Instructions for Writing the Document and Review Essays Dr. Hayes

  1. DO NOT submit your paper by e-mail, put it in my faculty box in the department office, or slide it

under my office door!!! If it is late, or other arrangements were made, you still need to give it to me in


Tea in China and Japan

The tea ceremony and tea culture have a special place in the social, political, and literary culture of

China and Japan. Your readings of these two books should inform your understanding of this special


Beyond introducing the books (a review section(s), so to speak), your essay should analyze Kawabata’s

Thousand Cranes and Lao She’s Tea House for further meaning(s). How does tea ceremony and tea

culture play a significant role in this literature? What meanings do the authors ascribe to drinking tea in

informal and formal situations? How does tea affect and help you understand the author’s development

of characters? Does tea really matter? Think in terms of the various “key terms” I have highlighted to

date in the course—as William McNeill has pointed out, tea ceremony and tea culture in China and

Japan are a means of preserving traditional and medieval values in a dynamic process of change in East

Asian society. Do these books really highlight this kind of dynamism?



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