This paper asks you to problematise tradition as a concept of time. This means to think about tradition not as natural, but as a construct of time, and to consider the consequences of rethinking tradition in this way. Be sure to follow the instructions exactly!
Question: How would you explain the nature of tradition in the light of the following passage from Michel Foucault? You should answer the question with reference to our case study of Yanagi Soetsu and Yi T’aejun’s writings on Korean porcelain and art.
“We should not be deceived into thinking that this heritage is an acquisition, a possession that grows and solidifies; rather, it is an unstable assemblage of faults, fissures, and heterogeneous layers that threaten the fragile inheritor from within or from underneath.”
(Foucault, Genealogy, 146)
STEP 1) READ
-Read the passage from Michel Foucault carefully. Make sure you have understood each individual word before thinking about how the words fit together. Then think about how this passage fits into Foucault’s general understanding of the problems involved in the understanding and writing of history.
-Go back and read the essays by Yanagi Soetsu and Yi T’aejun on porcelain/antiques. As you read try to think about how these essays relate to the problem of tradition which Foucault is discussing.
STEP 2) WRITE
-In the first paragraph, explain Foucault’s passage and his argument about tradition as it appears IN THIS PASSAGE. What is he saying?
-In the second paragraph, discuss how Foucault’s understanding of tradition, as explained in your first paragraph, helps us to read Yanagi Soetsu and Yi T’aejun’s essays about Korean antiques and porcelain. How do you think that Foucault would tell the history of Korean porcelain and antiques?
Citations in your responses:
While you do not need a bibliography for your response, all quotes and paraphrasing should be properly cited in abbreviated Chicago style footnotes. You are expected to review, and properly use this style. For full instructions, see the handout on citations available on the left tab under “EAS 103 and 105 Handouts.” You may abbreviate the title to one central title word.
In brief, the first mention of a text in your footnote should contain the:
Author’s last name, abbreviated title in italics, and page number.
Williams, Marxism, 117.
For journal articles, the title will be in “quotes” rather than italics.
Sample Footnote citations for abbreviated Chicago style and use of Ibid.