Last week a couple of students took me to task for not having a clearer thesis statement on a draft I shared with them for an invited essay I am writing for Japan Focus. Such critiques are a very good sign! As I move forward with revisions to this 20-page single-spaced monster of a review essay (reviewing one film about the Rape of Nanking is feasible; reviewing four is indicative of masochistic tendencies), I will be sharing an updated draft with them. If it’s accepted by April 25, I will have a little respite and then they will see what Laura Hein at Northwestern University has to say about my thesis and my review of the literature. If it’s good enough for Dr. Hein and Mark Selden, hopefully it is good enough for them.
Pulling together something as immense as a historiography of the Nanking Massacre would take a whole year, but perhaps it would be a worthwhile exercise for a student. It would be particularly interesting to see how an undergraduate history major at PLU (perhaps one in my classes?) would be able to outsleuth Iris Chang, who was a dynamite and disciplined writer, but who — as we can see in her papers — ignored vast swaths of past writing about Nanking, convincing herself (and then Viking Press) that she had discovered the topic altogether and was recuperating it fully.