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Asian Literature and Culture Courses

Courses marked with an * are available for graduate credit.

Asian Humanities

ASIAN LC 290 – East Asian Religious Classics

Overview of Course

This course explores some of the most influential texts of the major East Asian religious and philosophical traditions including Confucianism, Daoism, Chan/Zen Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism still prominent in China, Japan, Tibet, and several other Asian societies today. The goal is to understand their significance in East Asian cultures, as well as consider what we can learn from these texts today. This course will probe the following questions: What are the major themes, dilemmas, and issues these texts address? How can humans achieve contentment in the world? What are the moral values these texts instill? Beyond this historical focus, this course will also reflect on ways that these literary and religious texts have been appropriated and adapted in the modern context. Each period dedicated to a specific text will be preceded by an introduction to the tradition it represents offering an historical background together with biographical and/or content outlines. Format The course format will include a combination of lecture and discussion. Students will be encouraged to exercise critical thinking and to participate in class discussions. Students will analyze primary source material in translation, critically evaluate content and concepts, and will be encouraged to synthetize the information and communicate it effectively and thoroughly.

Teaching Method

Lecture and Discussion

Evaluation Method

Mid-term and final term paper, in-class presentation

Class Materials (required)

Confucius / Annping Chin (transl). The Analects. Penguin Classics (2014) - ISBN 978-0143106852

Lao Tzu / D.C. Lau (transl). Tao Te Ching. Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (1964) - ISBN 978-0140441314

Tsangnyon Heruka / A. Quintman (transl). The Life of Milarepa. Penguin Classics; 1 edition (2010) - ISBN 978-0143106227

Wu Ch'êng-ên (Author), Arthur Waley (Translator), Monkey: Folk Novel of China, Evergreen Books by Grove Weidenfeld; Reissue edition 1994, 978-0802130860

ASIAN LC 390* – Buddhist Cultures and the Rhetoric of Violence

Overview of Course
This course investigates the intersections between religion and violence in the context of Buddhist Asia while also considering why in many religious traditions there seem to be a link between the two. The course will be structured in two parts: in the first part students will be encouraged to build expertise in the basic concepts, definitions, and general academic consensus (as well as debates) about categories including “religion,” “violence,” “sacrifice,” “ritual,” “martyrdom,” and also “nationalism,” “politics,” and “terrorism” through reading both primary sources (in English translation) and secondary sources (scholarly writings). We will then move into an analysis of case studies that focus on specific circumstances where Buddhist rhetoric, scriptural authority, and religious practices have played a role in violence including suicide, terrorist-related actions, and self-immolation predominantly in pre- and modern Asia. Some of the provocative questions that this course asks include: Why and how is religion involved in politics? Is Buddhism a pacifist religion? How does religion rationalize violence? How can some Buddhist leaders embrace terror as a political tool? Are the recent practices of self-immolation in Tibet acts of violence? Can non-violence be violent?

Teaching Method
Lecture and discussion

Evaluation Method
Participation; in-class presentation; term paper

Class Materials (required)
Mark Juergensmeyer and Margo Kitts, Princeton Readings in Religion and Violence, Princeton University Press, 2011 - ISBN 978-0691129143 Michael Jerryson & Mark Juergensmeyer (eds), Buddhist Warfare. Oxford University Press, 2010 - ISBN 978-0195394849

Class Materials (suggested)
Michael Jerryson, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road: Buddhism, Politics, and Violence. Oxford University Press, 2010 - ISBN 9780190683566 Michael K. Jerryson, Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence in Southern Thailand. Oxford University Press, 2011 - 978-0199793242 Brian Victoria. Zen at War, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; 2nd edition (June 28, 2006) - ISBN 978-0742539266

ASIAN LC 390* – Buddhist Literature in Translation

Overview of Course
In this course students will read writings from Buddhist canonical and non-canonical literature on a variety of subjects to gain an introduction to the variety of literary genres used in Buddhist works, as well as to consider the central tenets of the Buddhist literary tradition these works convey. Who was the Buddha? What did he preach? Why do we suffer and how do we realize enlightenment? How should one follow the Buddhist path? What metaphors and parables have Buddhists used to convey these insights over the centuries? Students will be able to explore these and other questions through a selection of English translations of original texts in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan including the life of the Buddha, his sayings, Buddhist sutras, and Buddhist autobiographies. As this course is an introduction to Buddhist literature, there are no prerequisites, and students will gain familiarity with Buddhist teachings through engaging directly with primary sources in translation.

Teaching Method
This course will consist of lectures and class discussion

Evaluation Method
Students will be evaluated through a mid-term and a final-term paper, as well as class participation and an in-class presentation.

Class Material (required)
The Life of the Buddha (Penguin Classics 2015 - by Tenzin Chogyel and Kurtis R. Schaeffer. 978-0143107200

The Dhammapada (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 2010 by Valerie Roebuck (Editor, Translator, Introduction) ISBN 978-0140449419

The Platform Sutra: The Zen Teaching of Hui-neng, by Red Pine, Counterpoint 2008, ISBN 978-1593761776

Himalayan Hermitess: The Life of a Tibetan Buddhist Nun 1st Edition, by Kurtis R. Schaeffer, ‎Oxford University Press, 2004 – ISBN 978-0195152999

ASIAN LC 390* – Fate, Fortune, and Karma in East Asia

Overview of Course
Are our actions free or fated? What larger forces shape the choices we make? To what do we owe our successes, and what is to blame for our mistakes? In East Asian religions, such questions have been answered with reference to a variety of different concepts of fate, fortune, and karma. These concepts shape not only how people have viewed the world, but also how they have made their way through life. This class focuses on religious approaches to questions of destiny in premodern East Asia. We begin by studying Indian Buddhist ideas of karma and early Chinese notions of fate and fortune preceding Buddhism's arrival in China, then turn to the ways people in China and Japan negotiated these various concepts over the many centuries following the arrival of Buddhism. In the end, we discover important throughlines amid the diversity of religious responses to the problem of destiny in East Asian history.

Learning Objectives
1. Learn about the history of religion in East Asia by studying concepts of fate, fortune, and karma 2. Engage with key themes and methods in the academic study of religion 3. Develop skill in analyzing textual and visual primary sources, as well as in engaging with secondary scholarship 4. Build skill in critically and constructively analyzing complex subjects through reading, writing, discussing, undertaking research, and formulating original arguments

Teaching Method
Seminar

Evaluation Method
Paper, final
Attendance
Class participation
Writing assignments

Class Materials (required)
All assigned readings will be uploaded to Canvas.

 

ASIAN LC 392 – East Asian Media Studies

Overview of class

How do we critically engage "media in (East) Asia" in the age of global media production, circulation, and consumption? This course features a combination of critical theory and geopolitical history with an emphasis on asking how we understand various media forms, technologies, and texts that are from East Asia. Students will read different and sometimes competing sets of critical approaches and methods that theorize media forms and cultures in East Asia. We will especially problematize the qualifying phrase "in Asia" or the binary opposition between "culture" and (media) technology. While learning the key theoretical tools to understand media in Asia, students will also learn to question the assumed universality of the concept "media" while dealing with the geopolitical differences of the non-West, in this case East Asia. For instance, students will be learning and asking what we can gain or miss from analytical approaches that focus on the national characteristics (e.g. "Koreanness) or "East Asianness" of modern technologies such as K-pop machinery, Japanese anime, or the Chinese typewriter. Therefore, this course not only will provide students with an introduction to media technologies and cultures in East Asia, but also teach ways to rethink the Eurocentric theorization of media and modernity as well as the conceptualization of East Asian culture as fixed, static, homogenous, and "particular." Each week students will be reading or watching a media text paired with readings on relevant theoretical or historical problems.

Learning objectives

Students will read different and sometimes competing sets of critical approaches and methods that theorize media forms and cultures in East Asia. In particular, we will problematize the qualifying phrase “in Asia” and the binary opposition between “culture” and (media) technology. While learning the key theoretical tools to understand media in Asia, students will also learn to question the assumed universality of the concept “media” while dealing with the geopolitical differences and particularities of the non-West, which for our course refers principally to East Asia. Therefore, this course will not only provide students with an introduction to media technologies and cultures in East Asia, but it will also teach ways to rethink the Eurocentric theorization of media and modernity. Furthermore, we will trouble the conceptualization of East Asian culture as fixed, static, homogenous, and “particular.” Each week students will be reading or watching a media text paired with readings on relevant theoretical or historical problems.

Teaching Method

Discussion with lectures

Evaluation Method

Grades will largely be determined by student comprehension of lectures and readings, discussion, and a combination of smaller and in-depth writing assignments.

  1. Regular attendance and preparation of all readings and active participation: In-class discussion and weekly online posting of reading responses (less than 200 words)
  2. “What is Media” essay: 1000 words. Post online on Canvas.
  3. Discussion leading: This part consists of 3 reading summaries for the assigned readings. 1) an oral presentation of the reading in class; 2) a two-page written summary to be posted one day before class on Canvas (this means that all other students need to read posts before coming to class) 3) three questions to spark class discussion.
  4. Final research project: 2500-3000 words, excluding bibliography. Students are encouraged to give a short, compact presentation on their project at the end of the semester.

Class Materials

All assigned readings are accessible through Canvas.

 


ASIAN LC 397 – Senior Seminar

Overview of Course
This course is an introduction to scholarly knowledge production in the humanities with a focus on Asian languages and cultures. We will ask how we know what we believe we know about Asian culture—where our knowledge of Asia comes from—why we might critique existing ideas about Asia, seek to produce new or different ones, and how we might go about doing so. Concretely, we will focus on developing scholarly research practices: how to describe research topics, articulate research questions, and identify primary materials through which to explore them; how to find, read, evaluate, and make original use of existing scholarship; how to use library research to frame and inform the analysis of primary cultural materials; and how to communicate the aims and results of research to a community of peers. We will also discuss fundamental methodological problems faced by all scholars in the Asian humanities, and consider how those problems might inform and enrich our own research. The Senior Seminar is centered on individual student research projects, developed progressively in a workshop setting. Students are expected to begin the course with a clear research topic (or multiple possible topics) and a rough idea of what primary sources they may use to develop it. Over the course of the quarter, each student will develop their research topic into an original 12-15 page research paper. For students who wish to complete a Senior Thesis in ALC, this paper will provide the core of the thesis, to be more thoroughly elaborated over the rest of the year. Students whose topics are not concerned with Japan (my area of specialization) are encouraged to seek out additional faculty support for their research, especially if they plan to complete a Senior Thesis in the quarters ahead.

Learning Objectives
Students who have completed this course are expected to be able to: • Identify and articulate research topics regarding literature, media, and culture, identify primary sources and texts relevant to those interests, and pose research questions that are meaningful to a specialist audience • Find scholarly sources related to a given topic, and critically evaluate scholarship in fields related to Asian humanities • Use writing as both a private medium for developing research interests and as a public medium for presenting research to an audience of peers. • Explain research interests and results orally in informal and formal settings. • Draw connections between individual research projects and major problems and questions in Asian studies • Identify and employ effective work habits and time management skills necessary for effective research

Teaching Method
Lecture, discussion, workshop

Evaluation Method
Attendance and participation; Research and Writing assignments; Oral presentations; Final paper

Class Materials (required)
Wayne C. Booth et al, The Craft of Research, Fourth Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2016). ISBN 978-0226239736 Eric Hayot, The Elements of Academic Style (Columbia University Press, 2014). ISBN 978-0231168014 All other materials will be made available in PDF form.

ASIAN LC 492* – Readings in Tibetan Texts: Religious and literary texts

Overview of Course

This class over three quarters is designed to assist students who already have the equivalent of at least two-years of Tibetan language study. The course is intended to build on this foundation so that students gain greater proficiency in reading a variety of classical Tibetan writing styles and genres, including (especially in the third quarter) texts relevant to their research.

We will explore various genres: canonical and other religious texts, religious songs (mgur), poetry (snyan ngag), biographies (rnam thar), avadanas (rtogs brjod), and histories. We will also look at administrative documents (gzhung yig), other manuscripts and scrolls to become familiar with the most common forms of Tibetan calligraphy.  Students will gain facility in the use of Tibetan dictionaries essential for reading classical texts, in particular for understanding kāvya-derived ornamental vocabulary and rhetorical devices.

Learning Objectives

Students will learn to identify commonly found vocabulary, grammatical constructions and other conventions appearing in Classical Tibetan texts, including religious, literary, and historical genres. In the third quarter, students will be introduced to texts in dbu-med scripts and the abbreviated words (skung yig) often employed in these. They will learn how to identify texts helpful for their research and begin reading those texts.

Teaching Method
Online only

Evaluation Method:

 Percentage of Final Grade

Class participation & Homework                                               30%

3 Short quizzes                                                                                15%    

Mid-Term                                                                                            25%

Final Examination                                                                           30%

Class materials (required)

Bentor, Yael. A Classical Tibetan Reader: Selections from renowned works with custom glossaries.  Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2013.  ISBN: 978-1-61419-079-7 Purchase recommended.

Skal bzang ʾgyur med. Bod kyi brda sprod rig paʾi khrid rgyun rab gsal me long. Chengdu: Si-khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1981. [Clear Mirror]  Selections will be distributed if book is not readily available to students. 

Blo bzang chos grags dang Bsod-nams-rtse-mo. Gangs-ljongs mkhas dbang rim byon gyi rtsom yig gser gyi sbram bu. Zi-ling: Mtsho-sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2008. 3 vols. Selections will be distributed if book is not readily available to students.

Class materials (suggested)

Preston, Craig. How to Read Classical Tibetan. 2 vols. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2003.

Wilson, Joe B. Translating Buddhism from Tibetan. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1992.

Hackett, Paul. A Tibetan verb lexicon: verbs, classes, and syntactic frames. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2003.  (This book will be used in the second semester.)

Hill, Nathan. A lexicon of Tibetan verb stems as reported by the gramatical tradition. München : Kommission für Zentral- und Ostasiatische Studien, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2010.

Schwieger, Peter. Handbuch zur Grammatik der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache . Halle: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH, 2009.

Jo-bo rje dpal ldan A-ti-sha’i rnam thar Bka’ gdams pha chosLinks to an external site. Zi-ling: Mtsho sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1994.  Starr Library Course Reserves: BQ7670.9.A2 B43 1994

 

Sarat Chandra Das. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, with Sanskrit Synonyms. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot. 1902.

Jäschke, H. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, with special reference to the prevailing dialects (to which is added an English-Tibetan vocabulary). London. 1881.

ལི་ཤི་གུར་ཁང་།

དག་ཡིག་ངག་སྒྲོན་དང་དེའི་འགྲེལ་བ།

དག་ཡིག་གསར་བསྒྲིགས།

བོད་ཡིག་བརྡ་རྙིང་ཚིག་མཛོད།

Tibetan-English dictionary
https://dictionary.christian-steinert.de/#home

ASIAN LC 492* – Readings in Tibetan Texts: Manuscripts and Research-Focused Readings

Course description coming soon!

ASIAN LC 492* – Readings in Tibetan Texts: Historical texts and Biographies

Overview of Course

This class over three quarters is designed to assist students who already have the equivalent of at least two-years of Tibetan language study. The course is intended to build on this foundation so that students gain greater proficiency in reading a variety of classical Tibetan writing styles and genres, including (especially in the third quarter) texts relevant to their research.

We will explore various genres: canonical and other religious texts, religious songs (mgur), poetry (snyan ngag), biographies (rnam thar), avadanas (rtogs brjod), and histories. We will also look at administrative documents (gzhung yig), other manuscripts and scrolls to become familiar with the most common forms of Tibetan calligraphy.  Students will gain facility in the use of Tibetan dictionaries essential for reading classical texts, in particular for understanding kāvya-derived ornamental vocabulary and rhetorical devices.

Learning Objectives

Students will learn to identify commonly found vocabulary, grammatical constructions and other conventions appearing in Classical Tibetan texts, including religious, literary, and historical genres. In the third quarter, students will be introduced to texts in dbu-med scripts and the abbreviated words (skung yig) often employed in these. They will learn how to identify texts helpful for their research and begin reading those texts.

Teaching Method
Online only

Evaluation Method:

 Percentage of Final Grade

Class participation & Homework                                               30%

3 Short quizzes                                                                                15%    

Mid-Term                                                                                            25%

Final Examination                                                                           30%

Class materials (required)

Bentor, Yael. A Classical Tibetan Reader: Selections from renowned works with custom glossaries.  Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2013.  ISBN: 978-1-61419-079-7 Purchase recommended.

Skal bzang ʾgyur med. Bod kyi brda sprod rig paʾi khrid rgyun rab gsal me long. Chengdu: Si-khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1981. [Clear Mirror]  Selections will be distributed if book is not readily available to students. 

Blo bzang chos grags dang Bsod-nams-rtse-mo. Gangs-ljongs mkhas dbang rim byon gyi rtsom yig gser gyi sbram bu. Zi-ling: Mtsho-sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2008. 3 vols. Selections will be distributed if book is not readily available to students.

Class materials (suggested)

Preston, Craig. How to Read Classical Tibetan. 2 vols. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2003.

Wilson, Joe B. Translating Buddhism from Tibetan. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1992.

Hackett, Paul. A Tibetan verb lexicon: verbs, classes, and syntactic frames. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2003.  (This book will be used in the second semester.)

Hill, Nathan. A lexicon of Tibetan verb stems as reported by the gramatical tradition. München : Kommission für Zentral- und Ostasiatische Studien, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2010.

Schwieger, Peter. Handbuch zur Grammatik der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache . Halle: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH, 2009.

Jo-bo rje dpal ldan A-ti-sha’i rnam thar Bka’ gdams pha chosLinks to an external site. Zi-ling: Mtsho sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1994.  Starr Library Course Reserves: BQ7670.9.A2 B43 1994

Sarat Chandra Das. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, with Sanskrit Synonyms. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot. 1902.

Jäschke, H. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, with special reference to the prevailing dialects (to which is added an English-Tibetan vocabulary). London. 1881.

ལི་ཤི་གུར་ཁང་།

དག་ཡིག་ངག་སྒྲོན་དང་དེའི་འགྲེལ་བ།

དག་ཡིག་གསར་བསྒྲིགས།

བོད་ཡིག་བརྡ་རྙིང་ཚིག་མཛོད།

Tibetan-English dictionary
https://dictionary.christian-steinert.de/#home

ASIAN LC 492* – Buddhist Theocracy and Politics in Tibet

Course description coming soon.

ASIAN LC 492* – Tibetan Buddhist Studies

Overview of Course
This course will survey the state of the field of Buddhist Studies by examining a broad range of monographs, with an emphasis on a selection of recent scholarship on Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Topics covered in this course will include Buddhist ritual, cosmology, literature, philosophy, society, politics, and intellectual history. We will attend not only to the range of subject matter covered in Buddhist Studies scholarship, but also to the methodologies and theoretical approaches that scholars have used in the past and those in favor today to get a sense of the shifting terrain of this field. Through engaging in what we can call a type of “reverse engineering process” in which we analyze the parts that comprise the whole of recent monographs in the field of Buddhist studies, our goal will be not only to critique, but to consider how others have put together recent projects with an eye toward preparing students for their own research and writing. All required course readings are in English; this is a graduate seminar but motivated undergraduates with a background in Buddhist Studies courses are welcome to request permission from the professor to register.

ASIAN LC 492* – Race, Caste, and Colorism

Course description coming soon!Return To Top

Chinese Culture

ASIAN LC 202 – Women in Chinese Cinema, 1922-2022

Overview of Course
The focus of this course is mainland Chinese films about women and by women in twentieth and twenty-first century cinematic horizons. We will address the issue of women as actresses, as celebrities, and as objects, as well as subjects of representations through the intersectional lenses of gender, sexuality, politics, status, and material culture. Our course will be chronologically arranged, and we will screen well-known and lesser-known films, directed by male and female auteurs, in order to explore the dynamics and potentials for representations of women and female figures, such as goddesses, downtrodden proletarians, sex-workers, actresses, heroines, iconoclastic revolutionaries, and filial daughters. In addition to primary sources, we will integrate theoretical work in the field of gender and sexuality studies, feminist studies, and queer theory, as well as Chinese cinema and culture. Previous knowledge of Chinese culture and/or gender and sexuality studies, though helpful, is not required.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objectives: -Acquisition of knowledge about voices, identities, and women in modern and contemporary Chinese cinema (over a period roughly spanning from the early 1920s to 2022). This will mean exposure to primary sources (in English and/or subbed, and for those students able to, in Chinese) produced by Chinese film-makers, as well as to related secondary sources. -Development of methodological skills in studying, reading, and analyzing the primary and secondary sources related to the themes of the course in individual and communal spaces of dialogue and conversation. -Growth as independent researchers in the field of Chinese cinema, Asian humanities, and gender and sexuality studies. -Growth as independent academic thinkers and writers by introducing you to a variety of disciplinary methodologies to think about these topics.

Teaching Method
Lecture and Discussion

Evaluation Method
The final grade will be based on the following criteria: -Active class participation and attendance (discussion, preparation, short assignments) 30% -Assignments (writing statements, short papers, etc.) 35% -Final Project 35%

Class Materials (required)
All required material for the course will be available through Canvas

ASIAN LC 300* – A Writing of Their Own: Chinese Woman Writers Between Empire and Modernity

Overview of Course
This course focuses on women writers from the end of the Qing dynasty through the Republican period, to conclude with the late twentieth century. We will read the work of authors like Xiao Hong, Zhang Ailing, Ding Ling, Wang Anyi, Can Xue, Guo Xiaoluo, Hong Ying, among others, and, drawing from a variety of disciplinary approaches, we will explore the fraught relationship between gender, sexuality, literature, and identity. We will first engage the rise of female professional authors between the fall of the Qing and the Republican period, to then turn to the political turn in authors during the rise of the CCP; lastly, we will move on to late twentieth and early twenty-first century female-authored fiction in the Sinophone and beyond. In addition to primary sources, we will integrate theoretical work in the field of gender and sexuality studies, feminist studies, and queer theory, as well as Chinese cinema and culture. Previous knowledge of Chinese literature and culture, though helpful, is not required. We will spend a great deal of time reading primary sources (in English translation, and in Chinese, for those who are able to), so the only real requisite for this is to love reading fiction.

Learning Objectives
-Acquisition of knowledge about voices, identities, and literary works by Chinese over a period roughly spanning from the late Qing dynasty to the early 21st century. This will mean exposure to primary sources (in English, and for those students able to, in Chinese) produced by Chinese female authors, as well as to related secondary sources. -Development of methodological skills in studying, reading, and analyzing the primary and secondary sources related to the themes of the course in individual and communal spaces of dialogue and conversation. -Growth as independent researchers in the field of Chinese literature, Asian humanities, and gender and sexuality studies. -Growth as independent academic thinkers and writers by introducing you to a variety of disciplinary methodologies to think about these topics.

Teaching Method
Lecture and Discussion

Evaluation Method
The final grade will be based on the following criteria: -Active class participation and attendance (discussion,preparation, short assignments) 30% -Assignments (writing statements, short papers, etc.) 35% -Final Project 35%

Class Materials (required)

Love in a Fallen City (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – October 10, 2006 , by Eileen Chang

 Little Reunions (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – January 16, 2018, by Eileen Chang

 The Field of Life and Death & Tales of Hulan River First Cheng & Tsui Revised Edition , by Xiao Hong

·  Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cheng & Tsui; First Cheng & Tsui Revised Edition (July 31, 2006)

 Class Materials (recommended)

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai (Weatherhead Books on Asia) Paperback – February 22, 2008, by Wang Anyi




ASIAN LC 300* – Grassroots Revolt in China Today

Overview of class

"How have urban Chinese challenged the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party in the twenty-first century? What are the activist causes around which urban Chinese have rallied despite the risk of state repression? Given that activists risk persecution, prison, and torture, who would do this? How do activists maintain the emotional resilience to stand up to authoritarian rule? What are activists' tactics and strategies? To answer these questions, we will study reporters, labor organizers, environmental activists, religious activists, lawyers, and feminist activists.
Many activists oppose the authoritarian state in the name of freedom. I have found that many urban Chinese are happy, or at least content, in their lives today. The insight that hundreds of millions of people can be happy or content even though they are lacking freedom is so astonishing to me, I have begun to question my own understanding of freedom. Is freedom a specifically Western concept? Should the notion of freedom have universal relevance? Should we demand of the Chinese people that they democratize? Or is this demand Orientalist? Or racist? Is the demand that Chinese democratize another way of saying, "They must become like us"? The Chinese Communist Party is a threat to United States democracy. Thinking about China and acting toward China, how are we to combine the defense of our democracy and the injunction to stay clear of Orientalism? Who is a greater threat to our democracy, the Chinese Communist Party or the Republican Party? It turns out that we, unfortunately, cannot study Chinese activists without finding a framework to evaluate Chinese authoritarian rule in political and ethical terms.
Evaluating Chinese authoritarian rule involves thinking about ourselves. Are some Americans benefitting from authoritarian rule in China? Is the Chinese Communist Party profitable for some Americans? Would the United States economy collapse without Chinese poverty? Who are we in moral, political, and ethical terms to claim the high ground and criticize the Chinese Communist Party? It is possible to argue that Western modernity is flawed beyond rescue. From this perspective, are we in a desperate search for an alternative modernity? Can China be our inspiration for an alternative modernity? Or, would you agree with those Hong Kong activists who have coined the term Chinazi to indicate that, in their view, China increasingly resembles Hitler's Germany?"

Registration requirements

No prerequisites. All materials are in English.

Teaching Method

Discussion

Evaluation Method

You will read about sixty pages per class meeting, or circa one hundred twenty pages per week. To participate actively in class discussion, you must prepare the assigned readings outside of class for six hours per week. This includes taking good reading notes and bringing your reading notes to class.

Class Discussion 50%
Take-home Exam 15%
Final Paper 35%

Class Materials (required)

We will discuss select chapters from the following books. All of these required books are available to you as e-books through the Library's website.

Sebastian Veg. Minjian. The Rise of China's Grassroots Intellectuals. New York: Columbia 2019. 978-0-231-19140-1

Ching Kwan Lee. Against the Law. Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt. Berkeley: California 2007.978-0-520-25097-0

David Ownby. Falun Gong and the Future of China. New York: Oxford 2008. 978-0-19-973853-3

Joshua Goldstein. Remains of the Everyday. A Century of Recycling in Beijing. Oakland: California 2021.

Rongbin Han. Contesting Cyberspace in China. Online Expression and Authoritarian Resilience. New York: Columbia 2018.

Leta Hong Fincher. Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China. New York: Verso 2018. 978-1-78663-364-4

Margaret Hillenbrand. Negative Exposure: Knowing What Not to Know in Contemporary China. Durham: Duke 2020. 978-1-4780-0800-2

ASIAN LC 300* – Religion and Politics in the PRC

Overiew of Course
This course will examine the role of religion in post-1980’s China with an emphasis on the political implications of the practice of religion in the People’s Republic of China. Students will read various forms of literature and policy documents to assess the extent to which Marxist theory is central to the interpretation of “religion” in Communist China. Primary sources will include Chinese constitutional articles, white papers, and editorials in English translation. Secondary sources will cover a wide range of interpretations and perspectives on the position of religious institutions and religious practices in the PRC. The first part of this course will investigate the expression of religiosity under Communism in China; the rehabilitation of Confucian values; the constitutional protection of religion and religious belief in China; the relationship between ethnicity and religious policies; the Sinicization of religion; and the administration of the five officially accepted religious traditions in the People’s Republic of China (Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Islam). The second part of the course will focus on the recent cases related to the Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang and the Tibetan Buddhists of Western China. The class will explore some of the most controversial issues related to these two ethnic minorities including terrorism, religious violence, nationalism, assimilation, foreign influence, and soft power. The course format will consist of both lectures and discussions, during which students will be encouraged to exercise critical thinking and lead in-class presentations. Students will analyze various types of documents, critically evaluate content and concepts, and endeavor to synthetize the information and communicate it effectively and thoroughly.

Learning Objectives
Develop an understanding of the field of religion and politics in China and its global implications Reflect upon the role of religion in Communist China Analyze the Chinese approach to religious revival and control Assess the place of ethnic minorities and their religious cultures in China’s rise as a leading economic power Cultivate analytical skills in speaking and writing

Teaching Method
Lecture and discussion

Evaluation Method
Response papers; in-class presentation; term paper

Class Materials (required)
Anna Sun, Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities, Princeton University Press, 2015 (2013) ISBN 978-0691168111 Adam Yuet-Chau, Religion in China. Polity Press, 2019 - ISBN 978-0745679150

Class Materials (suggested)
Ian Johnson, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao. Pantheon Books, 2017 ISBN 978-1101870051 Fenggang Yang, Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, Oxford University Press 2011 - ISBN 978-0199735648

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First-Year Seminar

ASIAN LC 110 – Introduction to Modern Tibetan Literature

Overview of Course

This course will explore modern Tibetan literature beginning in the 1950s when Tibet became part of the newly established People’s Republic of China. Although Tibet was a civilization uniquely characterized by a religious literature produced and consumed in monastic institutions, the nature of literature and literacy has changed in Tibet in the past seventy years, becoming more accessible to the wider public. Tibetan writers have used fiction and poetry in new ways to reflect on life, rapidly changing worldviews, and critiques of the past as well as the present. This course students will introduce students to a number of recent Tibetan literary works including short novels, fiction, and poetry in English translation, as well as academic studies and scholarly analysis of modern Tibetan literature.

Requirements:

This course is primarily a reading seminar, hence class attendance and participation are crucial. All students are expected to complete the reading before class every week and to contribute actively to class discussions.

Participants will write seven short response papers (500 words) that critically discuss the week's readings. Each seminar participant is also expected to serve as discussion leader for a class session. Final paper required.

Required Readings (others TBA):

Tsering Döndrup, The Handsome Monk and Other Stories. Columbia University Press, 2019 ISBN 978-0231190237

Tenzin Deckie. Old Demons, New Deities. 21 Short Stories from Tibet. OR Books, 2017 ISBN 978-1944869519

Alai, Red Poppies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition, 2002 ISBN 978-0618119646

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Japanese Culture

ASIAN LC 200 – Intro Topics in Japanese Literature and Culture

Course description coming soon!

ASIAN LC 221 – Intro to Classical Japanese Literature

Overview of Course
This course is an introduction to Japanese literature from the earliest writings through the end of the Heian period (12th c.), including early mythohistory, poetry, Buddhist folklore, diaries, and narrative fiction. Students will be introduced to key historical contexts surrounding the formation of the early Japanese court and the birth of Japanese literary culture, the influence of Buddhism on Japanese thought and literature, the role of poetic composition and exchange in Heian court culture, and more, while learning to analyze the formal qualities and thematic content of texts in different genres.

Learning Objectives
• Describe the historical evolution and major genres, authors, works of Japanese literature from the earliest writings through the end of the Heian period (8th-12th c.) • Analyze the thematic content and formal structure of literary works as a basis for interpretation and comparison. • Situate literary and dramatic works in relation to meaningful social and cultural contexts, and interpret how they both reflected and commented creatively upon those contexts. • Interpret key conceptual terms like ‘literature’ in historical and cultural contexts and in relation to primary texts. • Communicate and debate humanistic topics from multiple, possibly conflicting perspectives, both orally and in writing

Teaching Method
Lecture and discussion

Evaluation Method
Attendance (10%), response postings (5%), participation and discussion (20%), short essays (20%), quizzes (20%), final exam (25%)

Class Materials (required)
Haruo Shirane, ed., Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600 (Columbia University Press, 2007). ISBN: 978-0231136976 Meredith McKinney, trans., The Pillow Book (Penguin, 2007). ISBN: 978-0140448061 Sonja Arntzen, trans., The Kagerō Diary: A Woman’s Autobiographical Text from Tenth-Century Japan (Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 1997). ISBN: 978-0939512812

ASIAN LC 224 – Intro to Japanese Cinema I

Overview of Course
Introduction to Japanese Cinema I: From Early Cinema to the Golden Age

This course offers a history of Japanese cinema from its earliest days through the so-called “Golden Age” of the 1950s. We will consider how film and other moving image technologies have reflected historical moments and shaped cultural discourses in modern Japan. Focusing on films that raise disciplinary questions related to both the cinematic medium and Japan, we will examine, among other topics, the era of silent cinema; the relationship between nationhood and the formation of a “national” cinema; technological transformations and the coming of sound; the wartime period; cinema during the occupation; and 1950s modernism. We will also study the place of important individual directors – Ozu, Mizoguchi, and Kurosawa – within the broader economic and institutional contexts of Japanese cinema and its global circulation. Students will learn how to critically analyze various films from multiple theoretical perspectives while gaining an understanding of the major figures and movements in the history of Japanese cinema.

Learning Objectives
By the end of this course, students will able to: 1. Describe the historical evolution and major genres, producers, works of Japanese cinema. 2. Situate and interpret individual films in relation to meaningful social and cultural contexts. 3. Analyze the thematic content and formal structure of cinema as a basis for interpretation and comparison. 4. To grasp basic historical and theoretical issues surrounding particular films and interpret them in specific contexts through multiple and conflicting perspectives.

Teaching Method
Lecture and Discussion

Evaluation Method
Attendance and Participation; Short Writing Assignments, Final Assessment

Class Materials (required)
All required materials will be available on Canvas

ASIAN LC 224 – Intro to Japanese Cinema II

Course description coming soon!

ASIAN LC 321* – Paying For It: Sex, Money, and LIterature in Early Modern Japan

Course description coming soon!

ASIAN LC 322* – Finance Fictions: The Japanese "Economic Novel"

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Korean Culture

ASIAN LC 240 – Introduction to Korean Culture

Overview of course

In 2017, the world witnessed a profound aspiration for national reconciliation and the possible future reunification of the Korean peninsula. Indeed, this aspiration for reunion expresses a vigorous and deep historical belief in the shared ethnic and cultural heritage of the entire peninsula that imagines North and South Korea as tragically and temporarily separated entities bound to be reunited. At the same time, the contemporary everyday meaning of the word “Korea” (hankuk) is often limited to only their nation for many young South Koreans. How do we understand this seeming contradiction? With this question in mind, this course provides students with a set of critical frames for exploring Korean history and culture while simultaneously questioning presumptions of a nation or civilization with an unchanging or seemingly “natural” essence. This course focuses on the modern cultural history of the Korean peninsula by investigating the discursive constructions of national subjectivity carried out by disparate groups and social institutions since the Chosŏn Dynasty’s inclusion in the modern nation-state world system and the political realities resulting from those discursive constructions. The term culture in the course title is defined in a broad sense as it encompasses not only works of art but also systems of thought and social practices developed throughout the history of modern Korea.

Learning objectives

This course is designed to give students a set of critical techniques for exploring Korean culture through its art, literature, history, and systems of thought.

Teaching Method

Discussion with lectures

Evaluation Method

Grades will largely be determined by student comprehension of lectures and readings, discussion, and a combination of smaller and in-depth writing assignments.

  1. Regular attendance and preparation of all readings and active participation: In-class discussion and weekly online posting of reading responses (less than 200 words)
  2. “Modern construction of Korean culture” essay: 1000 words. Post online on Canvas.
  3. Discussion leading: This part consists of 3 reading summaries for the assigned readings. 1) an oral presentation of the reading in class; 2) a two-page written summary to be posted one day before class on Canvas (this means that all other students need to read posts before coming to class) 3) three questions to spark class discussion.
  4. “Korean diaspora” or “Globalization of Korean culture” essay: 1000 words. Post online on Canvas.
  5. Final research project: 2500-3000 words, excluding bibliography. Students are encouraged to give a short and concise presentation on their project at the end of the semester.

Class Materials

All assigned readings are accessible through Canvas.

ASIAN LC 240 – The End of a World: South Korean Fictions, Films and Webtoons of Disaster

Course description coming soon!

ASIAN LC 340* – Feminist, Queer, Crip: South Korea and Its Discontents

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South Asian Culture

ASIAN LC 260 – Masala: Food and South Asia

Overview of course
Everyone eats, but not everyone eats the same way. What we eat, and when, and how, and with whom - all of these choices have the potential to define us. In this course, we will explore the meanings and practices surrounding food in South Asia and its diaspora. Whether in conflicts over forbidden foods, in crises of famine, in exoticist evocations of "the land of spices," or in nostalgic yearnings for the lost flavors of home, food has profound power over the imagination and the body. We will examine literature, films, cookbooks, and other materials - some of which we will eat! - to understand the roles that food plays in ritual, politics, art, and everyday life.

Learning Objectives
At the end of this course, students will be able to: - analyze historical, social, and cultural aspects of food in South Asia and its diaspora; - make cogent and persuasive arguments, orally and in writing, incorporating careful analysis of primary and secondary materials; - critically evaluate scholarly work relating to South Asian history and culture; - work with classmates to produce knowledge collaboratively.

Teaching Method
Seminar

Evaluation Method
Papers and presentations

Class Materials (required)
All course materials will be provided on Canvas or in class.

ASIAN LC 260 – India/Pakistan Partition in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture

Overview of Course
In August 1947, as the sun set on Britain’s Indian empire, the subcontinent was partitioned into two newly-created, independent nations: India and Pakistan. The division into two territories –one Hindu-majority, the other Muslim-majority – was accompanied by perhaps the largest migration in human history. Millions moved from one territory to the other, often against their will, as hundreds of thousands were killed in the ensuing chaos. The unprecedented violence of Partition - physical, emotional, social – profoundly shaped the national identities of India and Pakistan, permanently restructured the texture of everyday life and altered the global political order. From the subsequent partitioning of Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1971, to enduring border disputes in Kashmir, from ongoing cross-border migration to unresolved conflicts over identity and belonging, Partition continue to shape the region today. Partition’s legacy today extends far beyond the heavily-fortified frontier and into the art, literature and popular culture of the three countries that emerged from it. Even as the post-colonial states treated Partition as an aberration best forgotten - a footnote of a midnight tryst with destiny – the arts emerged as the primary space in which the meaning of Partition was negotiated and mediated. What could not easily be engaged directly found its expression, often allegorically, on the silver screen or the off-white pages of literary magazines. This class will examine how Partition has been engaged in literature and popular culture, moving from contemporary depictions from the 1940s to its continued invocation in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh today. We will read/watch these texts alongside the extensive body of scholarship on Partition from History, Anthropology and Gender Studies with particular attention to the historiography of Partition and South Asian nationalisms. Throughout, we will engage with the idea of Partition as an “event” and ask how Partition continues to inflect life in South Asia and beyond today.

Learning Objectives
Gain a familiarity with Partition as a historical event and literary efforts to give meaning to it - Develop an understanding of how trauma is negotiated and signified through literature - Examine the role of literature and the arts in the development of national and sub-national discourses.

Teaching Method
Discussion

Evaluation  Method
essays and projects

Class Materials (required)
None

ASIAN LC 360* – TBA

Course description coming soon!

ASIAN LC 360* – Talking the Talk: Language in South Asian History

Overview of Course
Why do people say certain languages are “sweet”? Why are some languages written in several different alphabets? Why have people killed and died, not for a nation or a religion, but for a language? Questions like these will drive our exploration of language in South Asia, both past and present. Although languages sometimes seem like facts of nature, they have been shaped in profound ways by both human and nonhuman forces, sometimes deliberately and sometimes entirely by accident. In this course, we will examine these histories from a variety of perspectives, using a wide range of primary documents as well as scholarly writings to think about how political struggles, cultural expressions, and technological revolutions have remade these essential facets of everyday life. No knowledge of any South Asian language is necessary. Graduate credit will be available.

Teaching Method
Seminar

Evaluation Method
Papers, presentations, participation, and short responses

Class Materials (required)
None

ASIAN LC 370* – Travel Writing in Modern India

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