New SPICE Lesson Examines Japanese Propaganda from the Meiji Era (1868–1912) to the Pacific War (1941–1945)
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Since SPICE’s inception in the 1970s, SPICE curriculum writers have incorporated primary sources from the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in many of its curriculum units and have also recommended that teachers consider utilizing the Hoover Institution’s rich archives in their teaching. Engaging students in the analysis of primary sources has been a hallmark of SPICE curricula from its inception. SPICE curriculum units that have included primary sources from the Hoover Institution have focused on the former Soviet Union, Asia (primarily China and Japan), Europe, and Latin America.
In a new collaboration with the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, SPICE’s Curriculum Specialist Waka Brown developed Fanning the Flames, a curriculum that engages students in the analysis of primary sources from the website Fanning the Flames: Propaganda in Modern Japan, which features Japanese propaganda from the Meiji Era (1868–1912) to the Pacific War (1941–45).
The description of Fanning the Flames from the website reads:
Fanning the Flames: Propaganda in Modern Japan presents visual testimony, supported by cutting-edge scholarly research, to demonstrate the power of graphic propaganda and its potential to reach broad audiences without raising their consciousness perhaps to dangerous effect. The Hoover Institution Library & Archives is pleased to present a curated selection of compelling material on the history of modern Japanese propaganda from our [the Hoover Institution’s] rich collections. Central to this project are fresh academic perspectives on select topics. We were fortunate to receive contributions from the world’s top scholars in the fields of Chinese history, the Japanese military, the media, intelligence, and art history.
This ambitious project encompasses the Meiji Era (1868–1912) through to the Pacific theater of World War II (1941–45), a period of increasingly intense propaganda activities in the Empire of Japan. By studying multiple types of graphic media over time, we hope to better understand underlying themes and discover the unique nature of Japanese propaganda from one historical moment to another, as well as its continuity over time. The theses generated by the contributors highlight not only the top-down delivery of propaganda, its pervasive influence on ordinary people, particularly young children, and the muscle of the media, but also grassroots participation in the consumption of propaganda.
Brown developed activities for the following core topics on the Fanning the Flames website: “The Rise of Empire,” “Defining Conflicts of Modern Japan,” “War & Media in Modern Japan,” “Nishiki-e Defined,” and “Kamishibai Defined.” The activities introduce students to the importance of understanding and interpreting propaganda and engage them in a critical analysis of the primary sources.
SPICE would like to express its appreciation to Dr. Kaoru Ueda, who curated many of the materials used on the Fanning the Flames website. She also manages the Japanese Diaspora Collection at the Hoover Institution and recently published a book also titled Fanning the Flames: Propaganda in Modern Japan. SPICE would also like to thank Marissa Rhee, lead exhibitions team member for the Fanning the Flames project. Marissa organized and brought together diverse components of the book publication, online portal, and physical exhibition.
The teacher’s guide was made possible with a grant from the Japan Fund, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. The teacher’s guide is available below.
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Fanning the Flames: Examining Japanese Propaganda from the Meiji Era (1868–1912) to the Pacific War (1941–45)
“Fanning the Flames” is a free teacher’s guide that teaches students visual media literacy by utilizing primary source materials from the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.