4501 Review Paper

HIEA 4501 Disasters in Japan

Writing Assignment #1

This assignment is designed to take stock of the issues we have read so far so that we can go forward in examining the enormous issue of modern disasters. Use this assignment to help you clarify your own thinking on these issues because your final project must use them effectively to be successful.

Taking the New York Review of Books multiple book review as your model, choose at least three (and at least one from each column) of the following authors and write a review paper centered on our question: What, if anything, does it mean to call something a disaster? Each author has an answer to that question, explain them, and put them in conversation with each other; ie what might Nietzsche say about Erikson’s focus on trauma? What might Benjamin say of Nietzsche’s “cultural treasures? What does Virilio’s “Primal,” Perrow’s “Normal,” or Hegel’s “Spirit” allow us to see? What might they veil?

Note: These are not summaries that stand on their own. You are specifically interested in thinking about history and disasters even if the thinkers themselves are not. Use the topic of the assignment as a way to read these texts—even if, as is clear—there are other ways of reading them.

Further, you are not writing a paper to get the “true” meaning or the “right” answer but to be able to stand back and explain how your authors have answered this question. These authors do not always agree and are often fundamentally opposed. It is not your job to make them agree—let them fight it out on your page. To do this you must keep the many voices, including yours, separate and clear. This can be as simple as signaling your changes: “As Nietzsche said…” or “This is not how Virilio would approach the problem….”

Choose at least one

  1. Hegel
  2. Nietzsche
  3. Benjamin

Choose at least one

  1. Perrow
  2. Virilio
  3. Ewald
  4. Erikson

1500 words

Due Wednesday Feb 4 by 4pm on Collab “Assignments”

 Papers received after 4 pm will be “one day late” and reduced one-third of a grade, ie from B+ to B. Papers received after midnight on Wednesday the 17th will be “two days late” and reduced two thirds, ie from B+ to B-. Midnight on Friday = “three days late” with further reduction, and so on.