This month I spent most of my time in the library to continue reading judicial cases in the Heitu Archives. By categorizing all the cases based on core issues (land, marriage or criminal), main characters and time, I tried to delineate the transformation of the judicial process from the 18th century. In the middle of October, I had a meeting with my supervisor again to discuss my research progress in Princeton. She gave me some suggestions such as clarify the institutional transformation at first, focus on the Eight Banners administrators’ judicial roles.
On the other hand, in her seminar, we read newly published books on art history, medical history and so on. It was a challenge for me since most of these books are beyond my past reading scope and I had less background knowledge on related topics. However, I still have tried my best to grasp the books and participated in discussions actively. Another class hosted by Professor Janet Chen focuses on writing academic articles for publication. We discuss everyone’s pre-circulated think pieces and give feedback. It is helpful to get other colleagues’ advice and urge myself to make more progress every week.
Outside the classes, I have attended some lectures ranging from economic history to intellectual history. Professor Kuroda, a GHC’s senior member, visiting IAS(Institute for Advanced Studies) in Princeton this year also gave a lecture this month. His talk was about an important but long-neglected topic-the means of transactions in the late imperial of China and stimulated a hot discussion. All attendees spoke highly of Prof. Akinobu Kuroda’s studies for his insightful analysis, and some said this study would become a “paradigm shift” for our understanding of traditional monetary history. I was also proud of being a member of GHC and University of Tokyo at that time. Besides, I am enrolled in two regular workshops. The first is Professor Susan Naquin’s writing group on English writing. She is an emeritus professor majoring Chinese history at Princeton. The other is East Asian Studies Department Graduate Student Forum. This is a student-running forum which invites some faculties to talk about social skills, grant application or other practical issues. It is an excellent opportunity to understand the American academia. Moreover, I also attended a dissertation defense on American legal history. (In Princeton, dissertation defenses are public to all.) The Ph.D. candidate’s presentation was delivered successfully, and I could feel his confidence and enthusiasm. In fact, he has been already an Associate Professor in the Columbia Law School and published tens of articles in prominent journals. Although many teaching positions require a Ph.D. degree, this is not typically required for law school professors in US. Therefore the Ph.D. candidate became a member of faculty in Columbia after he got his Juris Doctorate degree from Yale law school and worked for an associate justice of Supreme Court.
Since second-hand books are very cheap in the US, I bought over 100 books in October. Besides Amazon, there are two useful second-hand book websites: thriftbooks.com and betterworldbooks.com. I felt satisfied at first but have begun to worry about shipping them back to Japan soon.
Food might not be the most important topic scholars should be interested in when thinking about academic visiting, but it’s not a trivial concern, either. To be honest, before arriving at Princeton, dining-hall food was not something I look forward to. However, I found Princeton ran decent college cafeterias for students. The menu features creative, fresh dishes such as coconut basmati rice, Thai roasted vegetables, and Korean bulgogi bowls. The cafeterias in Princeton are slightly expensive than ones in the University of Tokyo. I mainly cook by myself and sometimes eat in the dining hall when I am busy.
To enrich my off-work hours, I keep swimming every morning or afternoon and hang out with my friends several times. Once was to pick up apples in farm and we went hiking for two times in the state park near Princeton.