Teacher guide Yellow promise, yellow peril: foreign postcards of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05 - essay by John Dower

TLF ID M007079

This is a historical essay by Professor John Dower about how the producers of picture postcards presented the Russo-Japanese War and its Japanese combatants to the purchasing public in Europe. The highly informative and richly illustrated essay contains four chapters and more than 140 postcards, some of which depict scenes that may be disturbing. The chapters can be printed and the images can be enlarged for closer examination. There are also links to other collections on the Russo-Japanese War.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The extensive range of European postcards in this collection is a significant source for modern history in years 11 and 12, particularly for the rise of modern Japan to 1905, and for history in year 9, particularly for the elective depth study of Asia and the world.
  • The images are useful for helping students understand the historical concept of significance. On the one hand, some of the images show a level of approval for Japan's emergence as a powerful modern state. On the other, many postcards represent the Japanese as upstarts and the vanguard of a 'yellow peril' that posed a terrible threat to the West.
  • The text of the essay by John Dower, Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offers a detailed historical and cultural 'reading' of the postcards. As part of his analysis, Dower highlights four topics: the well-watched Russo-Japanese War; postcard 'realism'; cartoon adversaries; and the yellow peril.
Year level

9; 10; 11; 12

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: John Dower
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Person: John Dower
  • Description: Author
  • Publisher
  • Name: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: Massachusetts, UNITED STATES
  • URL: http://web.mit.edu/
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Online
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology © 2008 Visualizing Cultures. Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0.