Courses

The Department offers courses in Chinese and Japanese language as well as courses taught in English on Chinese and Japanese literature and many other areas of Asian Studies, including anthropology, art, economics, history, languages, linguistics, literatures, music, politics, religions, and sociology of China, Japan, and other Asian countries.

For a list of current courses related to Asia, please see the ChineseJapanese, or Asian Studies sections of the Williams online course catalog. This includes many courses in other departments that are cross-listed with us, but it is always a good idea to check other departments (particularly the ones listed above) for relevant courses that may not yet be cross-listed. You can also search the course catalog by keyword, to find courses related to your particular interests, courses taught by a particular Asian Studies faculty member, etc.

  • ASST 103(F)By Land and Sea: Art, Culture and Religion Along the Trade Routes of Asia

    This undergraduate Asian art and architecture survey course will focus on artistic, religious, and cultural exchange along the two major trading networks connecting Asia: the Silk Road and the South East Asian sea routes. Following the spread of religious ideas across these routes, the survey will examine art forms including textiles, manuscripts, paintings, luxury items and sculpture, as well as architectural examples. The three major religions and their artistic expressions that will be explored in class are Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. An underlying theme in class will be to study the spread and evolution of artistic styles and iconography across Asia, while also highlighting the continuation of local traditions that persisted despite outside influences. [ more ]

    Taught by: Murad Mumtaz

    Catalog details

    ASST 115The World of the Mongol Empire

    Last offered Spring 2018

    By the middle of the thirteenth century, Mongol armies led by Genghis Khan had conquered an enormous swath of territory, extending from China westward to Eastern Europe. Further expanded by Genghis's descendants, the Mongol Empire incorporated a vast range of different peoples and cultures, enhancing communications, trade, and exchange among them. In this course we will examine the "world order" of the Mongol Empire from its origins on the Asian steppe through its expansion, consolidation, disintegration, and legacies for later periods. From a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including travelers' accounts, chronicles, art, and literature, we will investigate the diverse experiences of the Mongol world in different places, such as China, Russia, Persia, and Central Asia. [ more ]

    ASST 117(S)Bombay/Mumbai: Making of a Modern Metropolis

    Bombay or Mumbai is India's foremost urban center and is well known today as a truly global city. It is the heart of India's commercial life comparable in vibrancy and multiculturalism with the world's emerging cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. What are the historical elements that contributed to the making of India's most modern and global metropolis? What are the antecedents of the modernity, the vibrant culture, dark underbelly and economic diversity that characterize Bombay today? What does the history of Bombay tell us about modernity in India and the emerging countries of the third world in general? This seminar will help students to answer these questions through historical materials on Bombay as well a wide range of multimedia sources including cinema, photography and literature. With a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, we will explore themes like the commercial culture of a colonial port city, the modern public sphere, theatre and film, labor migration, public health and prostitution to understand what went into the making of this modern metropolis. The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to a wide range of historical sources and ways of interpreting them. The other objective is facilitating their understanding of the history of modern India through the history of its most important city. [ more ]

    ASST 121 T(F)The Two Koreas

    The two Koreas--North and South--were born in the aftermath of World War II, when the United States and the Soviet Union arbitrarily divided the peninsula into two zones of occupation at the 38th parallel. Today, over six decades later, the split endures as what has been called "the Cold War's last divide." This tutorial examines the history of the two Koreas from their creation in 1945 to the present. We will explore the historical and ideological origins of the division; how tensions between North and South led to the outbreak of the Korean War; why the paths of the two Koreas have differed so markedly; how each country has been shaped by its political leaders and their ideologies; and what recent developments in North Korea, including its nuclear program, have meant for relations on the peninsula and beyond. Course material will include primary and secondary sources of various kinds, including political documents, intellectual treatises, films, and short stories. [ more ]

    ASST 122 TOld Shanghai, New Shanghai

    Last offered Spring 2018

    Once nicknamed as "Paris of the East," Shanghai, now a megacity with a population of 25 million, is the industrial, commercial and financial center of contemporary China. Shanghai is often depicted as a metropolis that marked the beginning of China's modernity and urban culture. People from other regions in China see Shanghai as a city full of opportunities, but characterize its people as astute and shrewd, cocky and unwelcoming. Foreigners, however, find the city appealing and its people open-minded. Jews fleeing Nazi persecutions during WWII, found Shanghai to be a "paradise of ghetto" that provided the only haven of survival. For local people, there have always been two Shanghai: an old one and a new one. They are proud of the new Shanghai but constantly nostalgic about the old one. This tutorial examines the multifaceted city of Shanghai and its people from historical and cultural perspectives. We will look at the city's history (from the late nineteenth century to present day), its local language and culture, and everyday life of the people (including migrants and foreigners) living in it. The central ideas we will explore are "modernity" and "regional identity." We will investigate how these theoretical constructs play out in the making of the city of Shanghai and the formation of its unique local identity. Course readings include historical and cultural studies as well as documentaries in English about Shanghai, and primary sources in Chinese in a wide range of genres including fiction, essays, and films (English translation of the primary sources are available for students taking the course in English). The course is conducted in either Chinese or English. Students wishing to take the course in English should register under ASST 122T and students wishing to take the course in Chinese should register under CHIN 422T. Students will come away with a critical understanding about China's regional cultures and one of its most important metropolitan cities. Chinese language learners will be able to improve their reading and writing skills in Chinese through this course. The course has a required field trip to a Chinese restaurant on a Saturday or Sunday, depending on all students' schedules. [ more ]

    ASST 126Musics of Asia

    Last offered Spring 2016

    This course offers an introduction to the great diversity of Asian music. Our survey will span from East Asia (China, Korea, and Japan) to Southeast Asia (Thailand and Indonesia) to the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia (Tibet and Afghanistan), to the Middle East (Iran and the Arabian peninsula), and will end with the extension of Asian music across North Africa and into Eastern Europe. Within this broad survey, we will focus on selected and representative musical cultures and genres. In each section of the course, aspects of cultural context (including music's function in religious life and its relationship to the other arts), will be emphasized. While our focus will be on the traditional and classical musics of these cultures, we will also briefly consider the current musical scene. Encounters with this music will include attendance at live performances when possible. [ more ]

    ASST 186(F)Japanese Popular Visual Culture

    The phrase "Japanese popular culture" often calls to mind comics and animation, but Japan's earliest visual pop culture dates back to the 17th century and the development of arts like kabuki theater and woodblock prints that could be produced for a mass audience. This course traces Japanese popular culture through a range of visual media: kabuki and puppet theater, premodern and postmodern visual art (ukiyoe, Superflat), classic film (Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa), manga/comics (Tezuka, Otomo, Okazaki), and animation (Oshii, Miyazaki, Kon). We will focus on developing visual reading skills to come up with original interpretations of these works, and on comparing different media to make them shed light on one another. [ more ]

    ASST 197(F)Hindi

    Introduction to the alphabet and language structure with emphasis on communicative skills. Students will receive a foundation in the language being able to hold simple conversations, use a range of vocabulary related to daily activities and transactions, and gain familiarity with basic, frequently used grammatical structures of the language. [ more ]

    ASST 197(F)Korean

    Introduction to the alphabet and language structure with emphasis on communicative skills. Students will receive a foundation in the language being able to hold simple conversations, use a range of vocabulary related to daily activities and transactions, and gain familiarity with basic, frequently used grammatical structures of the language. [ more ]

    ASST 198(S)Korean

    Continuation in developing communicative skills and furthering familiarity with frequently used grammatical structures. [ more ]

    ASST 198(S)Hindi

    Continuation in developing communicative skills and furthering familiarily with frequently used grammatical structures. [ more ]

    ASST 200History of the Book

    Last offered Fall 2014

    From ancient clay tablets, bamboo strips, and papyrus rolls to modern hardbacks, paperbacks, and e-readers, no object has so broadly and deeply represented the capacity for humans to create, preserve, and transmit knowledge, information, and ideas as the book. Books have been worshiped and condemned, circulated and censored, collected and destroyed. From works of art to ephemeral trash, they have been public and private, sacred and profane, magical and commonplace. Likewise, notions of the book have influenced every subsequent form of communication and transmission, whether we are browsing film and song "libraries" or "scrolling" down "pages" on the web. This course will explore aspects of the material, social, cultural, and intellectual history of the book, from the invention of the earliest writing systems through the modern development of digital media. Our inquiry will span the globe and the millennia, but we will pay special attention to the ancient and medieval Chinese, Greek, and Latin traditions and their enduring influence in the modern world. Topics will include orality and literacy, manuscript production, the invention and spread of printing, typography, reading culture, notions of authorship, libraries and collections, censorship, and the digital book. Through a variety of readings, hands-on exercises, and interactions with our abundant library resources, we will investigate how the changing form and function of the book interact across its long and diverse history. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

    ASST 207 T(F)An Exploration of Japanese Language and Culture

    Language is the primary means for human beings to lead social lives and it expresses, embodies and symbolizes cultural and social reality. This tutorial will examine the intertwining ways in which the Japanese language reflects the patterns of life and intrinsic beliefs of Japanese, while exploring how this linguistic code may influence and shape the ways Japanese think. We will look into the following topics: polite language and the variety of personal pronouns in order to examine how the hierarchical structure of Japanese society is reflected in them. Also, we will explore women's speech, youth and queer Japanese to discuss social and gender identities and the role of linguistic stereotypes in manga, anime and TV dramas as well as the "easy Japanese movement," which depicts the shift from a monolingual to multilingual Japanese society. And finally, our examination will investigate the semantic and cultural losses that occur in translations from Japanese prose to English prose. The course is conducted in either Japanese or English with materials drawn from linguistics and sociocultural studies both in Japanese and English. Students wishing to take the course in English should register under ASST 207T and students wishing to take the course in Japanese should register under JAPN 407T. Japanese language learners will not only develop analytical and critical thinking, but will gain more advanced Japanese skills such as reading to understand the logic of arguments, exponent narrative, and academic presentations and writing. [ more ]

    ASST 208Afghanistan Post-Mortem

    Last offered Fall 2014

    The United States attacked and defeated the Afghan Taliban regime over in the course of a few short weeks in 2001. Over the next decade, the finality of that victory was brought into question as the Taliban regrouped and eventually reasserted itself as a formidable guerilla army that the U.S. military could not defeat. This course examines the history of American involvement in Afghanistan, beginning in the Cold War when the U.S. used Afghanistan as a test case for new models of political modernization and economic development, through the Soviet occupation and U.S. support for Islamist political parties in the 1980s, and continuing with the most recent abortive U.S. efforts at nation-building and social and political reform. [ more ]

    ASST 212Transforming the "Middle Kingdom": China, 2000 BCE-1600

    Last offered Fall 2016

    China expanded from scattered Neolithic settlements to become one of the world's most complex and sophisticated civilizations. During this process, it experienced dramatic transformation as well as remarkable institutional and cultural continuities. This course will examine Chinese history from prehistoric times to the "early modern" seventeenth century. It will address topics such as the creation and transformation of dynastic authority, the reinterpretation of Confucian thought, the transmission of Buddhism, the conquest of China proper by "barbarian" peoples, the composition of elites, and change in daily life, popular culture and China's place in the East Asian and world systems. [ more ]

    ASST 213Modern China, 1600-Present

    Last offered Spring 2018

    Observers may be struck by the apparent contradictions of contemporary China: market reforms undertaken by a nominally Communist government, extremes of urban wealth and rural poverty, increasing participation in the international community and intensifying nationalist rhetoric. This course will examine China's historical engagement with the modern world in order to gain perspective on our current views. It will cover the Qing (1644-1911) dynastic order, encounters with Western and Japanese imperialism, the rise of Chinese nationalism, Republican and Communist revolutions, the "other Chinas" of Taiwan and Hong Kong, economic liberalization, and globalization. [ more ]

    ASST 217Early Modern Japan

    Last offered Spring 2018

    Over a century of constant warfare came to an end in the late 1500s, ushering in more than two hundred years of relative peace in a Japan that was ruled by a military government. This course will take up the extraordinary changes and enduring continuities of the period between the establishment of the Tokugawa government in the early 1600s and its eventual collapse in 1868, an era characterized by societal order and tensions, economic growth and stagnation, the development of cities and towns, the flourishing of urban culture, the spread of new and different ideas, and the decline of the samurai. We will focus on the political, social, and cultural history of early modern Japan, including topics such as the establishment of the Tokugawa order, the nature of the political system, foreign relations, urbanization, popular culture, material culture, the quality of life, the legal order, gender and sexuality, and the fall of the Tokugawa government. Assigned materials will include government documents, intellectual treatises, autobiographies, literature, and films. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ASST 218(S)Modern Japan

    Stunning revolutions, the construction and collapse of an empire, the waging of wars, devastating defeat and occupation by a foreign power, and postwar economic ups and downs have marked Japan's modern experience. This course will explore how various Japanese from politicians and intellectuals to factory workers and farmers have understood, instigated, and lived the upheavals of the past century and a half. We will ask why a modernizing revolution emerged out of the ashes of the early modern order; how Japan's encounters with "the West" have shaped the country's political and cultural life; what democracy and its failures have wrought; how world war was experienced and what legacies it left in its wake; how national identity has been constructed and reconstructed; and how postwar Japan has struggled with the successes and costs of affluence. Materials will include anthropological studies, government documents, intellectual tracts, fiction, films, and oral histories. [ more ]

    ASST 219Japanese Culture and History from Courtiers to Samurai and Beyond

    Last offered Spring 2017

    This course will introduce students to the history, literature, and artistic culture of premodern Japan, from the time of the first recorded histories in the 800s through the abolition of the samurai class in the late 1800s. We will focus on the politics and aesthetic culture of the ruling elites in each period, from the heyday of the imperial court through the rise and eventual decline of the samurai warrior and the growth of Edo (Tokyo), with its new mode of early modern government and new forms of literature, theater, and art. Team taught by faculty from History and Comparative Literature, the course will examine historical texts alongside works drawn from literature, visual culture, and performing arts, and will ask students to consider how these different kinds of texts can shed light on one another. What is the difference between reading history and reading literature, or is it even meaningful to distinguish the two? [ more ]

    ASST 220The Monkey King: Transformation of a Legend

    Last offered Spring 2016

    The devious and irascible Monkey King, born of stone, defying all authority yet compelled to behave by a dubious Buddhist magic, is one of the most beloved figures in Chinese culture. This course will trace the transformation of the Monkey King legend from its origins in early representations of monkeys in folklore and a seventh-century Chinese monk's arduous journey to India in search of Buddhist learning, through its maturation in the sixteenth century, and into works of the Asian diaspora in the U.S. We will examine textual and visual representations of the Monkey King in popular culture, folklore, and literature, to explore topics including ideas about conformity and individual autonomy, morality and law, and the cultural negotiations necessitated by travel and contact with people (or monkeys) of other civilizations. [ more ]

    ASST 221(F)The Making of Modern South Asia: 1750-1950 CE

    This course focuses on the history of South Asia with the aim of providing an overview of the political and social landscape of the region from the end of the Mughal Empire through British colonial rule and the Partition of India and Pakistan. We will explore a range of themes including the rise of colonialism, nationalism, religion, caste, gender relations, and the emergence of modern social and political institutions on the subcontinent. In addition to reading key texts and historical primary sources on the specific themes, we will also work with a variety of multimedia sources including films, short stories and website content. One objective of this course is to introduce students to the different political and social processes that led to the creation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; another is to teach students to think critically about the significance of history and history writing in the making of the subcontinent. [ more ]

    ASST 222History and Society in India and South Asia: c. 2000 to 1700s CE

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This course is an introduction to the history of India and South Asia from prehistoric times to the emergence of early modernity. During these centuries, the subcontinent emerged as one of the most diverse and complex regions of the world, as it continues to be even today. The course will cover the period between the rise of the Indus Valley civilization to the end of the Mughal Empire and will address topics such the as the "discovery of India", the coming of the "Aryans", society and culture in the great epics like the Ramayana, the beginnings of Jain and Buddhist thought, politics and patronage under Islamic polities, the formation of Mughal imperial authority through art, architecture and literature, among others. Through the study of social processes, the course will focus on the diversity and connectedness that have defined the subcontinent throughout its history. It will also consider the role of history in the region and how a number of events from the past continue to inform its present. [ more ]

    ASST 233(S)Spiritual Crossroads: Religious Life in Southeast Asia

    No region of the world presents a richer tapestry of religious beliefs, practices, and institutions than Southeast Asia. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are all to be found and all of them interpenetrate and contend with each other and with a deep undergirding of animism, shamanism, and mystical folk belief systems. This course will survey these religious traditions through time and space, looking in particular at the growing tension between religion and the state as fundamentalism and religious militancy have spread into the region in recent times. All of Southeast Asia will be covered, but particular attention will be devoted to Indonesia, where religious blending and the growth of new fundamentalism are both especially marked. [ more ]

    ASST 243Red Chamber Dreams: China's Greatest Novel as Literature and Legacy

    Last offered Fall 2016

    The eighteenth-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber, also known as Story of the Stone, is widely regarded as China's greatest novel due to the intricacy of its narrative and the sophistication with which it deals with themes as varied as romance, enlightenment, sexuality and gender identity, and the construction of public and private spaces. We will read the novel through a variety of critical approaches, addressing it both as a work of literature and as a cultural phenomenon. [ more ]

    ASST 244(S)Mind and Persons in Indian Thought

    In this course, we follow the conversation among Indian philosophers concerning the self and the nature of consciousness. We start with some of the Hindu views about the self and the mind and consider their ethical implications. We then consider a range of Buddhist critiques of these views, focusing more particularly on the Madhyamaka philosophy, which radicalizes the critique of the self into a global anti-realist and skeptical stance. We also examine the Yogacara school, which offers a process view of reality focusing on the analysis of experience. We conclude by considering some of the later Hindu holistic views of the self as responses to the Buddhist critique. In this way we come to realize that far from being the irrational foil of "the West," Indian tradition is a rich resource for thinking through some of the central ideas that have challenged philosophers in both traditions. [ more ]

    ASST 245 TNationalism in East Asia

    Last offered Spring 2017

    This tutorial examines the theoretical literature on nationalism, and then uses insights from those readings to study of the emergence and development of modern nationalist movements and national identities in China, Japan, Korea -- both South and North -- and Taiwan. [ more ]

    ASST 246 TIndia's Identities: Reproducing the Nation,Community and Individual

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This course considers India's contradictory legacy as a booming Asian democracy and fragile society built upon deep and enduring divisions. Why is India's growing population so often described in terms of multiple identities or fragmenting oppositions -- Hindu/Muslim, rich/poor, high caste/outcaste, male/female? What are the historic roots and ongoing causes that produce structural violence around these axes of difference? We pay particular attention to key moments (Partition, communal riots in Gujarat in 2003, Hyderabad in 1990, Delhi in 1984), and places (Punjab, Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir) for our analysis of how religion, gender, and caste intersect to produce a landscape of communal violence, social hierarchy, and fragmented subjectivity in India today. We are as interested in discourses and practices that shore up these binaries as well as the third terms that attempt to transcend or diffuse them. For instance, we look at how Buddhism is and is not a middle path between Hindu/Muslim conflict in Indian Kashmir. Our course readings include ethnographic, sociological, and historical analyses, as well as oral histories and popular media. [ more ]

    ASST 247Tibetan Civilization

    Last offered Spring 2014

    Often depicted as Shangrila, a mythical and ideal country, Tibet has had the dubious privilege of being a focus of Western fantasies. One cannot but wonder about the motives and sources of this mythology. Although this course examines these representations, its main focus is an immersion in the cultural and historical aspects of Tibetan civilization, which give students the tools with which to understand Tibetan culture from the inside. As such this course is part of the Exploring Diversity Initiative. We first consider the early history of Tibet, the introduction of Buddhism, the relations between Buddhism and the indigenous religion, and some of the stages in the development of Tibetan Buddhism. We also examine the historical developments that led to the development of the institutions (such as the Dalai-Lama) unique to Tibet and some of the aspects of the culture that these institutions helped to create (such as gender roles, family structure and social stratification). Finally, we consider the more recent tragic events and examine the profound transformations that they have brought. Throughout the course, we consider the central role of the complex interaction between Buddhism and politics in Tibetan history, both in the pre-modern period and in more recent times, when the Tibetan people have faced the challenge of how to use their institutions and culture to resist oppression. In this way, we get a footing in the Tibetan world, and the indispensable assessment of Western representations of Tibet becomes not just an exercise in self-reflection but also a gate to a better understanding of a remarkable but tragically threatened civilization. [ more ]

    ASST 248Body Politics in South Asia: Gender, Sex, Religion, and Nation

    Last offered Spring 2015

    This course examines the relationship between body, gender, sex, and society in South Asia, using three countries and religions---India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam---as its foil. The course uses the body as a lens by which to unpack South Asian discourses that link body and sexuality with nation, community, and population. In particular, it explores a South Asian sociology that links individual and social bodies in ways that occasion solidarity as well as social suffering, violence as well as communal cohesion. How do bodies come to signify the purity or prosperity of the nation or community and with what social or discursive effects? We begin by unpacking foundational theories of the body as proposed by Mauss, Foucault, Douglas, and Bourdieu in order to better understand how local discourses of the body help produce gender and other social hierarchies in South Asia. By considering how the human body can serve as a map for society and vice versa, we examine both classical discourses and modern institutional practices of the body including the temple, the monastery, the mosque, and the mendicant, as well as bodily practices such as yoga, celibacy, sex work, and new reproductive technologies. We also analyze how the body has served as a symbol of nation, community, and social health. Throughout, we are interested in the cross-cutting effects of gender and sex in perpetuating structural hierarchies and social suffering around the body in South Asia. [ more ]

    ASST 250Scholars, Saints and Immortals: Virtue Ethics in East Asia

    Last offered Fall 2017

    In East Asian cultures, as in the United States, popular conceptions of morality typically take their shape, not from explicit rules, but from moral paragons--stylized figures that are said to embody a distinctive cluster of virtues. For example, American Christians invoke not only Jesus, but also a pantheon of "secular saints" as diverse as Martin Luther King Jr. and General Patton, George Washington and Cesar Chavez. This course will explore the cultural functions of moral paragons and philosophies of virtue in East Asia by introducing students to examples from Chinese and Japanese history, ranging from Confucian articulations of the ideal scholar-bureaucrat to Buddhist conceptions of the Bodhisattva to Taoist immortals. It will also address the history of ethical thought in East Asia, focusing particular attention on conceptions of "Virtue Ethics." This approach has come to be seen by some contemporary analytic philosophers as a way out of the impasse produced by ethical relativism and the loss of theological rationales for moral action. Readings will include Euro-American philosophers such as Nietzsche and MacIntyre as well as primary texts in translation by Chuang-tzu, Confucius, Shantideva and others. [ more ]

    ASST 251Zen Buddhism: History and Historiography

    Last offered Fall 2012

    Because mystifying references to Zen are strewn throughout American popular culture-from episodes of the Simpsons to names of perfumes and snack foods-most Americans have an image of Zen Buddhism that is disconnected from anything actually practiced in East Asia. This course offers a corrective to this image by familiarizing students with both the history of Zen and the historiographical roots of these popular perceptions. This course will examine the origins of Zen (Ch'an) in China, trace its transmission to Japan, and cover its development in both cultural contexts. It will conclude with an examination of Zen's unique role in American popular culture. The course will enrich the conventional image of Zen by addressing its involvement with power and governance, gods and demons, mummies and sacred sites, sex and violence, nationalism and scholarship. Texts will include selections from primary works in translation (The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, The Gateless Barrier, The Lancet of Seated Meditation) as well as selections from secondary literature including Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, Victoria, Zen at War, and Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy. [ more ]

    ASST 253Love and Death in Modern Japanese Literature

    Last offered Spring 2018

    One thing that surprises many first-time readers of modern Japanese fiction is its striking similarity to Western fiction. But equally surprising are the intriguing differences that lie concealed within that sameness. This course investigates Japanese culture and compares it with our own by reading Japanese fiction about two universal human experiences--love and death--and asking what inflections Japanese writers give these ideas in their work. The course begins with tales of doomed lovers that were popular in the eighteenth-century kabuki and puppet theaters, and that still feature prominently in Japanese popular culture, from comics to TV dramas. From there we move on to novels and films that examine a range of other relationships between love and death, including parental love and sacrifice, martyrdom and love of country, sex and the occult, and romance at an advanced age. We will read novels and short stories by canonical modern authors like Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima as well as more contemporary fiction by writers like Murakami Haruki; we will also look at some visual literature, including puppet theater, comics, animation, and Japanese New Wave film. The class and the readings are in English. [ more ]

    ASST 254(S)The End of the World in Japanese Literature and Visual Culture

    From the endemic warfare of the medieval era to the atomic bombing and the violent explosion of technology in the last century, the end of the world is an idea which has occupied a central place in almost every generation of Japanese literature. Paradoxically, the spectacle of destruction has given birth to some of the most beautiful, most moving, and most powerfully thrilling literature in the Japanese tradition. Texts may be drawn from medieval war narratives like The Tale of the Heike; World War II fiction and films by Ibuse Masuji, Imamura Shohei, and Ichikawa Kon; fantasy and science fiction novels by Abe Kobo, Murakami Haruki and Murakami Ryu; and apocalyptic comics and animation by Oshii Mamoru, Otomo Katsuhiro, and others. The class and the readings are in English; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required. [ more ]

    ASST 255(S)Buddhism: Ideas and Practices

    This course introduces students to Buddhism by examining its ideas and practices as they have taken place in actual social contexts rather than as disembodied textual objects. After examining the main ideas and narratives of the tradition, we turn our attention to Thailand where we examine how these ideas and narratives have shaped a whole range of practices, from meditation to shamanistic rituals. We then consider the transformations that Buddhism is undergoing in contemporary society, examining the rise of meditation movement, the changing role of monks and laity, the resurgence of the nun order, the rise of Buddhist social activism and the development of new Buddhist social philosophies. We ask questions such as: How can Buddhism adapt to a modern global consumerist society? What are the transformations involved in this process and the role that Buddhism can play in such a global society? Should Buddhists take advantage of the opportunities of this new global culture or should they adopt a critical stance toward its consumerist values? [ more ]

    ASST 256(F)Buddhism, Sex, & Gender: #MeToo Then and Now

    This course considers the feminist voices that have been part and parcel of Buddhist practices, texts, and institutions for most of its 2500-year history. We will conduct a historical genealogy of Buddhist voices that illustrate the fluid and disruptive role of sex, gender, caste, and class in relation to individual behavior and social relations. How did the Buddha's inner revolution produce a set of practices that both reject and reinforce existing binaries and social hierarchies of sex and gender, and with what effects? We will trace a feminist voice that decries harassment, assault, and systemic sexism within Buddhist communities from the first female disciples (Theri) of the Buddha to the current #MeToo era of embattled toxic masculinity. Along the way, we explore a literary canon that contains misogyny and 'she devils' alongside a rich tapestry of female divinities, transgender fluidity, and female liberation. We pursue and intersectional analysis of Buddhist traditions and texts by considering the multiple forms of social hierarchy--gender, sexuality, race, and class--that Buddhism has attempted to transcend. We begin by considering three women in the Buddha's life-his mother (Maya), his stepmother/aunt (Gotami), and his wife (Yashodhara)--as well as the tales of the first enlightened Buddhist women whose topics include prostitution, patriarchy, sexism, and pathetic husbands, as well as their own decaying bodies and beauty. Our next theme is the myriad ways that gender is both produced and deconstructed in Buddhist discourses on enlightenment and the human body. Our final theme considers a range of monastic memoirs, including a Buddhist black nun who left Harvard to take ordination in Thailand, and a Dutchman who studied Zen Japan. We close by examining the current debates in the U.S. and Asia that seek to combat systemic racism, sexism, and casteism in Buddhist traditions. [ more ]

    ASST 266Confession and Deception in Japanese Literature

    Last offered Fall 2017

    Situated at the origins of Japanese literature are the beautiful and revealing diaries of ladies in waiting at the tenth-and eleventh-century court. Yet one of the most famous of these women turned out to be a man. For the next thousand years, Japanese literary tradition would place a premium on confessional writing, but the distortions and concealments of these narrators (and the authors hiding behind them) would always prove at least as interesting as the revelations. This course examines several centuries of Japanese literature to ask whether you can ever put your true self into writing; along the way I will ask you what you reveal, conceal, discover, or reinvent about yourself when you write about literature for a class like this. Texts will range from classical and medieval court literature by Sei Shonagon and Lady Nijo, through autobiographical and confessional novels by Soseki, Tanizaki, Mishima, and Abe Kobo, to documentary and subculture films like The New God and Kamikaze Girls. The class and the readings are in English; no familiarity with Japanese language or culture is required. [ more ]

    ASST 269 T(S)Mindsight: Mindfulness and Medicine

    This course offers a social analysis and historical genealogy of mindfulness meditations from its roots as a Buddhist practice through its modern applications in a variety of social settings including hospitals, clinics, schools, communities, and even prisons to improve health and other social outcomes. We explore the scientific evidence including clinical research and other qualitative studies that have shown how mindfulness can alter human experience, behavior, and well-being. We begin by considering how mindfulness and meditation practices were first taught the Buddha two millennia ago in monastic and lay settings before turning to the modern studies and applications of mindfulness training. How has research on mindfulness exploded since 2000 and how does this relate to better models of the human brain and behavior? We critically examine the models developed by clinical psychiatry, neuroscience, and biomedicine, including brain imaging technologies like the fMRI, that have improved our understanding of the relationship between the brain, behavior, and emotions. We consider research on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) within clinical medicine, the rise of the `kindness curriculum? in schools, and other areas of applied research on mindfulness that have generated a `science of personal transformation?. Last but not least, we ask how mindfulness has been used to improve the interpersonal skills and training of doctors, teachers, and social workers to help improve social and learning outcomes as well as enhance patient/provider encounters. Students will be expected to engage in a mindfulness practice during the semester. [ more ]

    ASST 270Japanese Art and Culture

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This course is a survey of traditional Japanese painting, sculpture, architecture, woodblock prints, and decorative arts. Special attention will be paid to the developments in artistic style and subject matter in the contexts of contemporary cultural phenomena. Through visual analysis students learn the aesthetic, religious, and political ideals and cultural meanings conveyed in the works of art. Course highlights include the transmission of Buddhism and its art to Japan; Zen Buddhism and its art (dry gardens; temples; and tea ceremony related art forms) in the context of samurai culture; the sex industry and kabuki theater, their art, and censorship; and the Western influences on Japanese art and culture and vice versa, (Japanese woodblock prints' impact on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, for example). [ more ]

    ASST 271Erotic, Grotesque, Sublime: Ghosts and Monsters in East Asian Religion and Popular Culture

    Last offered Fall 2016

    "Ghosts and monsters" (Chinese yaoguai, Japanese yokai, Korean yogoe) have long figured prominently in East Asian cultural history. In medieval East Asian chronicles, wrathful demons attacked the imperial palace, ghosts haunted abandoned temples, and shape-shifting foxes infiltrated the bedrooms of royal concubines. These creatures persisted into the modern era when nineteenth century tabloids reported the existence of demon-foxes, giant serpents, and vengeful spirits. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, monsters began crossing over into the realm of fiction, and Japanese, Chinese, and Korean popular novels and films continue to crawl with images of traditional dark beasts. The opening contention of this course is that ghosts and monsters signify deviancies from "the normal" as it is constructed in a given culture and time period--they often come to represent transgressions of nature, gender, sexuality, race, morality, or to subvert distinctions such as those between human and animal, man and woman, animate and inanimate, present and past, or living and dead. This course will analyze East Asian ghosts and monsters in their historical cultural context, thinking about how they come to embody particular cultural fears and desires. We will use a range of East Asian materials in translation--including folktales, medieval bestiaries, short stories, and films, alongside a heavy dose of theory including works by feminist scholars Julia Kristeva, Ilka Quindeau, Susan Sontag and various others who attempt to understand the monstrous and the uncanny. Students will undertake an extended research project on a ghost or monster of their choice and locate it in its broader cultural context. Doing so should put us in a position to explore central themes, such as the connection between the grotesque and the erotic, the cultural performance of gender, the social construction of illness, the trauma of memory, the commodification of the supernatural, and the boundaries of the human. [ more ]

    ASST 272(S)Art of the Noble Path: Buddhist Material Culture Across Asia

    Buddhism has spread throughout Asia and beyond since its emergence in India in the 5th century BCE, providing a shared philosophical and cosmological framework for diverse cultures. Artistic expression, regional politics and cultural landscapes have been shaped by its remarkable influence. With patrons ranging from powerful monarchs and monks to merchants and tradespeople, Buddhist art has historically reflected the religion?s social inclusivity. This course will survey the architecture, painting and material culture of Buddhism in Asia, tracing its influence in diverse media, from rock-cut architecture to Zen painting. A close reading of primary texts, such as architectural inscriptions in India, manuscripts from Tibet, and travelogues of Chinese pilgrims, will provide greater context for the artworks. [ more ]

    Taught by: Murad Mumtaz

    Catalog details

    ASST 274(S)Chinese Calligraphy: Theory and Practice

    Beginning in the fourth century, Chinese calligraphy has remained one of the highest art forms in China and in East Asia generally, practiced by the literati, or highly erudite scholars. This course has two components: art history and studio practice. The first offers students an opportunity to acquire an understanding of theoretical and aesthetic principles of Chinese calligraphy. It also examines the religious, social, and political functions of Chinese calligraphy in ancient and contemporary China. Students will also have an opportunity to investigate contemporary artists, both Eastern and Western, whose works are either inspired or influenced by Chinese calligraphy, and those whose works are akin to Chinese calligraphy in their abstraction. Studio practice allows students to apply theories to creating beautiful writing, or calligraphy (from Greek kallos "beauty" + graphe "writing"). This course can be taken as either an Art History or a Studio Art course. [ more ]

    ASST 278(S)Buddhist Material Culture: Objects of Practice and Merit

    What is material culture? What is considered Buddhist material culture? If Buddhism is a tradition that encourages non-attachment, then what is meant by "Buddhist material culture"? Shouldn't Buddhists be "free" from material things? Is it necessary for a Buddhist to be free from material things or rather that material things should be free from Buddhists? This course will introduce students to a material culture approach to the study of religion, which acknowledges the agency of not only humans but also the agency of objects/things/stuff, and it emphasizes relationships and networks between people and things. The course will begin with basic foundational theories that make up the burgeoning field of "material culture" within Religious Studies. We focus on various relationships: "internal" (our body and senses in relation to things) and "external" (things themselves, and their connections to other things). We will learn about these relationships by looking closely at Buddhist "stuff" and investigating what such relationships can tell us about Buddhism. Things act upon us, and we (re)act upon them. They shape identity, create meaning, and maintain relationships. We will learn that things are never just things. They help us better understand what people do in Buddhism, not just what people believe. In a nutshell, this course is about the "social life of [Buddhist] things". For students without a background in Buddhism, this course will introduce them to Buddhism as lived in China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and particularly Southeast Asia. [ more ]

    Taught by: Susanne Kerekes

    Catalog details

    ASST 284(S)Introduction to Asian American History

    This course covers the immigration of Asian to the U.S. from the 1850s to the present and the lives of both immigrants and their descendants. Possible topics are the Chinese Exclusion Act, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the arrival of Vietnamese to the U.S. after the war in Viet Nam. [ more ]

    ASST 297(F)Intermediate Korean

    Intermediate level in developing linguistic abilities and fundamental reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Students will be able to carry on more sophisticated conversations; use the language to manage logistics of everyday life; and demonstrate more complicated grammatical structures in speaking and writing. [ more ]

    ASST 298(S)Intermediate Korean.

    Continuation of intermediate skills in speaking and writing. [ more ]

    ASST 312(F)The Mughal Empire: Power, Art, and Religion in India

    Established in the early 1500s, the Mughal Empire was one of the grandest and the longest to rule the Indian subcontinent for over three hundred years. Commanding unprecedented resources and administering a population of 100 to 150 million at its zenith--much larger than any European empire in the early modern world--the Mughals established a centralized administration, with a vast complex of personnel, money, and information networks. Mughal emperors were also political and cultural innovators of global repute. Moreover, while the Mughal dynasty was brought to an end with British colonial rule over India in 1857, the Mughal administrative structures and cultural influences continued to have a lasting impact on the British and later Indian states that followed. Centered around the intersection of the themes of power, patronage of art and architecture and religion, this course will ask: What factors contributed to the durability of the Mughal Empire for three centuries? How did global trade and innovations in taxation contribute to its wealth and stability? How did this dynasty of Muslim monarchs rule over diverse, and largely non-Muslim populations? How did they combine Persian cultural elements with regional ones to establish an empire that was truly Indian in nature? How were the Mughals viewed in their contemporary world of gunpowder empires like the Safavids of Persia and the Ottomans of Turkey? Readings will include the best of the recent scholarship on this vastly influential empire and a rich collection of primary sources, including emperor's memoirs, accounts of European travelers, and racy biographies, which will allow students make their own analysis. They will also have the opportunity to interpret paintings (some of which are held in the WCMA collections) and architecture. They will also discuss how the Mughals are remembered in South Asian film and music. [ more ]

    ASST 313(F)The People's Republic: China since 1949

    This course provides a close examination of the six decades of the history of the People's Republic of China, from the 1949 Revolution to the present day. Through readings and discussion, we will explore the multiple political, economic, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the idealism of the "golden age" of Communist Party leadership (1949-65), the political violence of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the profound transformation of the Reform Era (1978-present) as well as the motors of change in China today. Course materials will include films, novels, and ethnographies, as well as secondary analyses. Please note that this is a discussion seminar and not a survey course. [ more ]

    ASST 316Feeling Queer and Asian

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This advanced undergraduate seminar focuses on concepts, queries, and methodologies at the intersections of Asian Americanist critique, queer theory, and affect theory. How might we come to understand Asian gender, sexuality, and racialization less through a language of being or meaning, as through feeling? How do Asian/American discourses rely upon languages of gender and sexuality, and how might queerness depend upon Asianness? How might these theories identify, complicate, and call forth more expansive or alternative practices of belonging? The class will read theories including national abjection, racial melancholia, disaffection, queer diaspora, and homonationalism, as well as engage Asian American literatures. [ more ]

    ASST 319Gender and the Family in Chinese History

    Last offered Fall 2017

    Although sometimes claimed as part of a set of immutable "Asian values," the Chinese family has not remained fixed or stable over time. In this course, we will use the framework of "family" to gain insight into gender, generational, and sexual roles in different historical periods. Beginning in the late imperial period (16th-18th Centuries), we will examine the religious, marital, sexual, and childrearing practices associated with the "orthodox" Confucian family. We will then explore the wide variety of "heterodox" practices in imperial China, debates over and critiques of the family system in the twentieth century, and configurations of gender and family in contemporary China. [ more ]

    ASST 321History of U.S.-Japan Relations

    Last offered Fall 2017

    An unabating tension between conflict and cooperation has been an undercurrent of U.S.-Japan relations for over 150 years, at times erupting into clashes reaching the scale of world war and at times allowing for measured collaboration. We will explore the U.S.-Japan relationship from the perspectives of both countries with a focus on how culture, domestic concerns, economic and political aims, international contexts, and race have helped shape its course and nature. Topics will include early U.S.-Japan encounters; the rise of both countries as imperial powers; the road to, and experience of, World War II; the politics and social history of the postwar American occupation of Japan; the U.S.-Japan security alliance; trade relations; and popular culture. Contemporary topics will also be discussed. [ more ]

    ASST 337Zen and Philosophy: The Kyoto School and its Legacy in Japanese Thought

    Last offered Spring 2015

    Popularly regarded as the most important philosophical movement in modern Japanese history, the Kyoto School creatively marshaled the resources of Buddhism to address the impasses of Western philosophy to startling effect. Although the members of the Kyoto School were not all of one mind, their shared aims were ambitious: to bridge the dualism between subject and object, to overcome nihilism, to explore the implications of absolute nothingness, and to surmount what they saw as the chasm between Japanese and European thought. After providing some brief background in Japanese Buddhism, we will read the writings of the core thinkers of the Kyoto School: Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe Hajime, Nishitani Keiji, and some of their later proteges. Thematically, we will explore issues in ethics, epistemology, phenomenology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion; and demonstrate the continued relevance of their insights in these areas. Finally, we will reflect on the group's engagement with Japanese nationalism. All readings will be in translation. [ more ]

    ASST 341Caste, Race, Hierarchy

    Last offered Spring 2017

    Caste in India looms large in global social thought as a kind of benchmark against which hierarchical social systems across the world are measured. This prominence has much to do with British colonial ideologies of rule, but it also has a deeper and different history: the Buddha compared caste to Greek slavery, early modern Jesuits related it to the system of European estates, and since the nineteenth century, anti-caste radicals from Dalit, or "untouchable," backgrounds have drawn a sustained comparison between the forms of oppression they face and those with which African Americans contend in the United States. Reciprocally, thinkers from W.E.B. DuBois to Toni Morrison have deployed the category of caste in their writings on race. What can the study of caste in postcolonial South Asia contribute to global debates over the persistence of "traditional" forms of social hierarchy? What are the stakes of bringing caste and race into the same conversation, and what are the implications of refusing to do so? In this seminar we will acquire a thorough grounding in the anthropological literature on caste and then investigate the politics of the caste-race comparison over the last hundred years. Assignments include weekly postings of 1-page critical response papers and either a research paper or an interview-based, ethnographic final project examining "caste" in one's own community. [ more ]

    ASST 346Islam and Anthropology

    Last offered Spring 2016

    If anthropology has helped to define Islam in global thought, Islam has returned the favor, holding a critical mirror to the anthropological endeavor perhaps more than any other traditional "object" of study. This course examines anthropological studies of Islamic societies for what they teach us both about Islam and about anthropology. We begin with foundational social theorists whose studies of religious phenomena helped give rise to the field of anthropology of religion. We then survey influential efforts to construct "ideal-type" models of Muslim society based on anthropological and historical knowledge, alongside efforts to critique, historicize, and redirect the model-building project (notably by Talal Asad and Edward Said). The second half of the course is devoted to ethnographies that explore, from a variety of perspectives and in several regions (Morocco, India, Egypt, Syria), questions of human agency, hierarchy and resistance, and Islam as discursive resource, ethical project, and embodied community. [ more ]

    ASST 347Tribe and State on the Afghan-Pakistan Border

    Last offered Fall 2011

    One of the major challenges President Obama will face in his first term in office involves the perilous situation on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. While the problems in the region are generally framed in relation to Islamic extremism, the more fundamental issue is the failure of the Afghan and Pakistani governments to exercise control over the tribes that occupy the mountainous frontier. This course will look first at the history of the Afghan and Pakistani states and of the Pushtun and Baluchi tribes that are part of, yet independent from the states that surround them. We will go on to consider the role of Islam as a political force in the region, with particular emphasis on the ways in which outside religious groups, most recently al-Qaeda, have managed to gain a foothold in the borderlands, despite the historic resistance of the tribes to outsiders of any kind. The course will also examine the efforts of, first, the Soviet Union in the 1980s and, more recently, the United States and its allies to control the borderlands, and we will conclude with a consideration of the geopolitical implications if Afghanistan and Pakistan prove in the end to be "failed states." Readings will include theoretical discussions of tribe/state relations, British and Soviet era accounts of the frontier (non-fiction and fiction), ethnographies of tribal societies, and contemporary studies. [ more ]

    ASST 376(S)Zen Buddhist Visual Culture: The Path to Nirvana

    This course is about the ways in which images are produced, viewed, and used in the Zen Buddhist tradition. It explores the various ways in which visual culture is a key part of Zen Buddhist teaching in China and Japan. In this class we will look at both high art and popular expressions of Zen Buddhist visual culture. Topics of interest include: 1) Buddhist image making and icon worship; 2) Gardens; 3) tearooms, tea ceremony and tea bowls; 4) The Zen temples Ryoan-ji, Daisen-in, and Daitoku-ji; 5) The political function of Zen and its art in Japan's samurai culture; 6) The popular Zen Buddhist cult of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and his gender transformation; and 7) Daruma (Bodhidharma) imagery in popular culture. This course is a CRAAS (critical reasoning and analytical skills) course. The class format also offers students opportunities to practice public speaking and writing skills. [ more ]

    ASST 384Selected Topics in Asian American Studies

    Last offered Fall 2017

    Assuming some previous knowledge of Asian American history, this course will examine a number of specific topics in Asian American Studies. Using historical sources, monographs, graphic memoirs, novels, and films, potential topics include Asians of mixed race, Orientalism, adoption, food culture, the "model minority," legal studies, Asian Americans and the environment, and the impact of war on Asian American history. [ more ]

    ASST 389(S)The Vietnam Wars

    This course explores Vietnam's twentieth century wars, including an anti-colonial war against France (1946-1954), a massive Cold War conflict involving the United States (1965-1973), and postcolonial confrontations with China and Cambodia in the late-1970s. Course materials will focus primarily on Vietnam's domestic politics and its relations with other countries. Lectures, readings, films, and discussions will explore the process by which Vietnam's anti-colonial struggle became one of the central conflicts of the Cold War, and examine the ramifications of that fact for all parties involved. The impact of these wars can hardly be overstated, as they affected the trajectory of French decolonization, altered America's domestic politics and foreign policy, invigorated anti-colonial movements across the Third World, and left Vietnam isolated in the international community. Students will read a number of scholarly texts, primary sources, memoirs, and novels to explore everything from high-level international diplomacy to personal experiences of conflict and dramatic social change wrought by decolonization and decades of warfare. [ more ]

    ASST 391(S)When India was the World: Trade, Travel and History in the Indian Ocean

    What do Ibrahim Ben Yiju, a Jewish merchant from 11th century Yemen, Ibn Batutah, a Muslim scholar from 15th century Morocco and Captain Kidd, a 17th century English pirate have in common? All three men travelled and lived in the Indian Ocean region! This course explores the history of one of the world's oldest maritime highways that has connected the diverse cultures of Asia, Africa and Europe for millennia, thus making it a vital element in the birth of globalization. Moving away from conventional land-centric histories, we will focus instead on understanding the human past through oceanic interactions. South Asian ports and port cities remained the fulcrum of the Indian Ocean world throughout its history; traders, travellers, nobles, scholars, pilgrims and pirates from all over the world travelled to the Indian coast in search of adventure, spices, knowledge and wealth. Thus we will primarily focus on India's role in the Indian Ocean roughly from the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE through the expansion of various European communities in the region and the subsequent rise of the global economy and colonialism in the nineteenth century. Rather than following a strict temporal chronology we will concentrate on themes such as travel and adventure; trade and exchange; trust and friendship; religion and society; pilgrimage; piracy; the culture of port cities; and food across time. [ more ]

    ASST 413 T(S)History of Taiwan

    Almost all discussions of contemporary Taiwan reference the fierce debate over its sovereignty and international status: is the island of Taiwan an independent nation, or an "inalienable part" of the much larger and more powerful People's Republic of China? Part of the argument for Taiwan's separate nationhood derives from its claim to a unique history different from that of the P.R.C.. In this tutorial course, we will look closely at the distinctive aspects of Taiwan's history that underlie this claim, including its aboriginal populations, maritime history, experience of Japanese colonialism, settlement by mainland Chinese after World War II, role in the Cold War, and the development of a Taiwanese ethnic and political identity in the postwar period. The goal of the course is neither to debate nor resolve the "Taiwan question", but to explore the history and historical arguments that inform it. [ more ]

    ASST 414Merchant Cultures and Capitalist Classes in China and India

    Last offered Spring 2015

    As the expression "Chindia" in the title of a recent book suggests, contemporary commentators find it difficult to resist conflating the rise of China and India as economic powers in the early 21st century. There are, however, both significant parallels between the two national histories and important distinctions that shape their contemporary viewpoints and futures. This seminar will examine various historical dimensions of entrepreneurial activity in China and India from the early modern period through the twentieth century. It will focus on topics such as indigenous forms of merchant organization, the impact of nineteenth-century imperialism, the adoption of Western business forms and methods, and the relationship of entrepreneurial elites to the modern state. [ more ]

    ASST 415Gods and Kings: Historical Narratives from India

    Last offered Spring 2016

    India's long history with earliest written records going back to 2000 B.C presents multiple challenges that are unique among the ancient civilizations. The critical challenge is conceptual: how do we recognize the historical sense of societies whose past is recorded in ways that are different from European conventions? British rulers claimed that India had no sense of history before the colonial period. And this view has persisted despite recent scholarship that has undermined the factual and conceptual basis of this theory. The purpose of this course is two fold: first, to discuss the analytical methods one could apply to understand the 'history' contained in the diverse body of classical Indian literature; second, to study a representative set of primary sources that belong to the distinct historical traditions of India. Students will learn to apply these methods to gain new insights and debate the limitations of the approach. The course will begin with an exploration of the epic tradition and continue with in-depth readings of narratives from other important genres including popular bardic accounts, royal biographies and court dramas ranging from c. 1000 BCE to 1500 CE. [ more ]

    ASST 460Economic Development of China

    Last offered Spring 2016

    This course is an introduction to the economic development of China in the post-1978 period. It seeks to provide an overview of the process by which China grew from an economic backwater to the second largest economy in the world, with a particular focus on rural development and the growing gap between rural and urban incomes; human capital and education; and health and gender in the Chinese context. In addition, the course has the goal of familiarizing students with current economics research on Chinese topics and enabling them to be informed consumers of this research. [ more ]

    ASST 465War and Remembrance in Vietnam

    Last offered Spring 2015

    This seminar, which includes a required spring break field trip to Vietnam, examines how that country's twentieth century wars for independence have been remembered, memorialized, and represented by the Vietnamese state, by citizens and scholars, and by the ever-growing number of international tourists who visit Vietnam each year. All class members are eligible to participate in the spring break field trip at no cost. In the weeks leading up to the trip, students will read a number of scholarly works on war and memory that will prepare them to think critically and knowledgeably about the representations of Vietnam's recent past that they encounter inside the country's borders. Students will consider the following questions: What factors influence representations of war in Vietnam? What cultural assumptions underlie them? What political, social, or economic purposes might they serve? How do official memorials in state-run museums and monuments differ from other perspectives? How do Vietnamese memories and representations of the Vietnam Wars differ from American memories and representations, and for what reasons? These questions will serve as the basis for a research paper or final project on one aspect of war and remembrance in Vietnam that students will complete during the second half of the semester, based in part on observations recorded during the trip. [ more ]

    ASST 488 TGandhi: Nationalism, Philosophy, and Legacy

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This course studies the work and ideas of M.K. Gandhi (1869-1948, one of the most influential thinkers of the non-western world. Gandhi is well known today for his philosophy of non-violent resistance and its application in India's freedom struggle as well as his influence on the work of leaders like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Hailed as the `father of the Indian nation', however, Gandhi is not only known for his political ideas but also for his deep engagement with aspect of everyday human behavior and morality: truth, vegetarianism, sex and celibacy, to name just a few of his obsessions which contributed to making his broader philosophy. It is this commitment to a morally pure life that earned him the title of `Mahatma' or Great Soul in India. The tutorial will focus on three key aspects of Gandhi: his ideas of peaceful protest as means of social and political change, his contemplations on moral philosophy, and on his legacy in modern India and the world. Students will read a combination of Gandhi's own writings as well as journal articles, monographs and films. The course will probe questions such as: What was the nature of Gandhian nationalism? Did it help to integrate the Indian nation? How, if at all, was shaped by Gandhi's engagements with moral philosophy and human behavior? Was Gandhi truly a Great Soul, a saint or a shrewd politician? In what ways is Gandhi received and remembered by the Indian nation today? How does understanding a figure like Gandhi facilitate our understanding of modern nationalism, citizenship and political action? [ more ]

  • CHIN 101(F)Basic Chinese

    An introduction to Mandarin, the language with the largest number of native speakers in the world, which is the national language of China and Taiwan, and one of the official languages of Singapore. Course objectives are for the student to develop simple, practical conversational skills and acquire basic proficiency in reading and writing at about the 200-character level. The relationship between language and culture and the sociolinguistically appropriate use of language will be stressed throughout. Both audio and video materials will be employed extensively. [ more ]

    CHIN 102(S)Basic Chinese

    An introduction to Mandarin, the language with the largest number of native speakers in the world, which is the national language of China and Taiwan, and one of the official languages of Singapore. Course objectives are for the student to develop simple, practical conversational skills and acquire basic proficiency in reading and writing in both the simplified and the traditional script at about the 500-character level. The relationship between language and culture and the sociolinguistically appropriate use of language will be stressed throughout. Both audio and video materials will be employed extensively. [ more ]

    CHIN 131Basic Cantonese

    Last offered Spring 2017

    An introduction to Standard Cantonese, a major regional language of southern China which is spoken by over 70 million people in Hong Kong, Macao, Guangdong, and Guangxi as well as by many overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, Hawaii, and North America. Due to the pervasive influence of Hong Kong as well as the economic transformation of Guangdong Province, the prestige of Cantonese within China has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Our focus in this course will be on developing basic listening and speaking skills, though some attention will also be paid to written Cantonese, including the special characters which have been used for centuries to write colloquial Cantonese and which have become even more widely used in Hong Kong since 1997. Since students will ordinarily possess prior proficiency in Mandarin, a closely related language, they should be able to attain in one semester approximately the same proficiency level that is attained in the first two semesters of Mandarin. [ more ]

    CHIN 134 T(S)Leaving the World Behind: The Literature of Reclusion

    Living in a time of political and social turmoil, Confucius told his followers: "When the realm has the Way, show yourself; when it lacks the way, hide." Reclusion here is a moral choice, justified by the ethical decline of the state. But it could also be a mortal necessity in a period in which government service was a distinctly hazardous pursuit. In other contexts becoming a hermit could instead be figured as aesthetic stance meant to preserve one's artistic integrity against the dominant claims of society. This course looks at the literature of reclusion---living a life of seclusion from society---in a range of different cultures and periods, from ancient China to contemporary America. With sources that include poems, essays, novels, and films, we will investigate a set of issues surrounding radical seclusion. What different forms does reclusion take? Can one be a hermit without being completely separated from society? What is the relationship between hermits and the state---to what extent does one depend on the other? What are the philosophical and moral implications of eremitism? Is separating oneself from human society an inherently immoral act? What is the relationship between reclusion and technology in the contemporary world? What is the nature of solitude and can it be experienced in a group (for example, in contemporary "intentional communities")? While most of our work will focus on textual analysis, there will be an experiential component to the course as well. Each student will design and implement their own experiment in (short-term) eremitism. [ more ]

    CHIN 140Introduction to Traditional Chinese Literature

    Last offered Fall 2017

    With a written record stretching over 3000 years, China's literary cultures are some of the richest and most varied in human history. Their influence continues to be felt not only in modern China, but also throughout much of the world. This course examines the origins and development of the different literatures of China from their earliest stages up until the end of the imperial system in 1911. We will read texts ranging from the Analects of Confucius to the medieval poetry of the Tang dynasty, from Buddhist sutras to plays about prostitutes and singing girls. An invulnerable monkey god may make an appearance to sow chaos as well. He's difficult to pin down. Some important themes will include: the role of the individual versus that of the community, responses to catastrophe and disorder, the fantastic, the articulation of the self through literature, and ways of dealing with historical and literary legacies. All readings are in English translation. [ more ]

    CHIN 152(S)Introduction to Taiwanese/Southern Min Language and Culture

    This course, which includes a required, fully-funded two-week field trip to Taipei, Quemoy (Jinmen), and Xiamen over Spring Break, constitutes an introduction to Taiwanese, the majority language of Taiwan, which is essentially the same as the native language of Xiamen, China and environs. Different varieties of this language, which is also known as Amoy, Hokkien, Fukienese, and Southern Min are spoken by about 50 million people in Taiwan, southern Fujian, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Suppressed in Taiwan by the Japanese from 1895-1945 and by the KMT Chinese government from 1945 through the 1970s, Taiwanese--in both its spoken and written forms--has been experiencing a fascinating revival in recent decades. The most divergent of all the major Chinese "dialects," this language is of special linguistic interest because it has preserved a number of features of Old Chinese. Our focus will be on developing basic listening and speaking skills, though we will also study some of the special characters used to write Taiwanese. The relationship between language and culture and the sociolinguistically appropriate use of language will be stressed throughout. Since students in the course will ordinarily possess prior proficiency in Mandarin, a related language, we should be able to cover in one semester about as much as is covered in the first two semesters of Mandarin. Classes will include dialog performance, drills, communicative exercises, and oral reading and discussion of written Taiwanese. Required Spring Break field trip to Taiwan and China, funded by the Global Initiatives Fund. [ more ]

    CHIN 201(F)Intermediate Chinese

    These two courses are designed to consolidate the foundations built in Basic Chinese and continue developing students' skills in aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Upon completion of the courses, students should be able to speak Chinese with fluency on everyday topics, reach a literacy level of 1000 characters (approximately 1200 common words written in both traditional and simplified characters), read materials written in simple standard written Chinese, and produce both orally and in writing short compositions on everyday topics. Conducted in Mandarin. [ more ]

    CHIN 202(S)Intermediate Chinese

    These two courses are designed to consolidate the foundations built in Basic Chinese and continue developing students' skills in aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Upon completion of the courses, students should be able to speak Chinese with fluency on everyday topics, reach a literacy level of 1000 characters (approximately 1200 common words written in both traditional and simplified characters), read materials written in simple standard written Chinese, and produce both orally and in writing short compositions on everyday topics. Conducted in Mandarin. [ more ]

    Taught by: Lu Kou

    Catalog details

    CHIN 214(F)Foundations of China

    This course examines the foundational period of Chinese civilization, from the earliest evidence of human activity in the geographical region we now call China, through the end of the Han dynasty in the early third-century CE. This is the period that saw the creation and spread of the Chinese script (a writing system that would be the dominant one in East Asia for thousands of years), the teachings of Confucius (whose ideas continue to play a role in the lives of billions of people today), the construction of the Great Wall (which is not, as it turns out, visible from space), and the creation of the imperial bureaucratic system (that was, in essence, the progenitor of the modern bureaucratic state). We will proceed chronologically but focus on a set of thematic topics, including language and writing, religion and philosophy, art and architecture, politics and economics, and science and technology. While this course is entitled "Foundations of China," we will take a critical perspective on narratives, both Chinese and Western, that see Chinese history as an unbroken history of a single "civilization." [ more ]

    CHIN 225(F)The Fantastic in Chinese Literature

    From the famous human/butterfly metamorphosis in the Daoist text Zhuangzi to contemporary writer Liu Cixin's award-winning "Three Bodies Problem," the "fantastic" has always been part of Chinese literature that pushes the boundary of human imagination. Readers and writers create fantastic beasts (though not always know where to find them), pass down incredible tales, assign meanings to unexplainable phenomena, and reject--sometimes embrace--stories that could potentially subvert their established framework of knowledge. Meanwhile, the "fantastic" is also historically and culturally contingent. What one considers "fantastic" reveals as much about the things gazed upon as about the perceiving subject--his or her values, judgment, anxiety, identity, and cultural burden. Using "fantastic" literature as a critical lens, this course takes a thematic approach to the masterpieces of Chinese literature from the first millennium BCE up until twenty-first century China. We will read texts ranging from Buddhist miracle tales to the avant-garde novel about cannibalism, from medieval ghost stories to the creation of communist superheroes during the Cultural Revolution. The topics that we will explore include shifting human/non-human boundaries, representations of the foreign land (also the "underworld"), the aestheticization of female ghosts, utopia and dystopia, and the fantastic as social criticism and national allegory. All materials and discussions are in English. [ more ]

    Taught by: Lu Kou

    Catalog details

    CHIN 226Chinese Film and Its Significant Others

    Last offered Spring 2018

    From the "wows" that the first short films invoked at a Shanghai teahouse in 1896 to the $527 million (or 3.4 billion RMB) grossed at the box-office by a 3D fantasy in 2016, Chinese films have struck a responsive chord among domestic and foreign audiences. In this survey course, we will explore the evolving relationships between Chinese films and five "significant others" that are central to film and film-making. Roughly following a chronological order, this course will examine 1) the effect of new technological developments (such as photography, sound, color, special FX) on film; 2) the tension between film and traditional modes of public entertainment (such as operas and shadow plays); 3) film's social role to affirm and contest gender, national, and class identities; 4) the need to garner differing sources of financial support (state funding, cultural entrepreneurs, and transnational capital); and 5) the circulation of Chinese films in the global market. Class materials include various genre films (melodrama, horror, martial arts, comedy, etc.), directors' notes, contemporary reviews, and scholarship in China and media studies. All materials and discussions are in English. [ more ]

    CHIN 227Made in China or Making "China"?: Twentieth-Century Chinese Performative Culture

    Last offered Spring 2017

    This course explores the ways in which twentieth-century Chinese performative culture fashioned our contemporary understanding of "China." Starting with Chinese hybrid theatres staged in the US, Japan, and semicolonial Shanghai in the early 1900s and ending with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremonies, this course examines performative works drawn from the breadth of an expanded 20th century; including film, spoken drama, intercultural reproductions of Peking and Kun Operas, revolutionary and avant-garde theatre, Chinese Rock concerts, and global mass mediated performances. Emphasis will be placed on how performances (encompassing the performance onstage and the performance-making backstage) placed "China" on the global stage; and shaped racial, gender, and national identities among play-makers and audiences. We will also explore how Chinese operas were reinvented as "traditional culture" and a "national essence" in the early 20th century; and how agents of Chinese performance, as makers of imaginary worlds, serve as both assets and threats to real-life arbiters of power. The class will be structured around the themes of "Inventing Tradition on the World Stage," "Acting the Right Part," and "Performing the Nation." Students will learn to engage performances as cultural texts embedded in national and global histories. By gaining knowledge about major playwrights, directors, artists, networks, and ideas, students will also become fluent in the landscape of performance culture in China. All class materials and discussions are in English. [ more ]

    CHIN 237 TPresent Past: The Politics of Memory in Contemporary Chinese Literatures and Films

    Last offered Fall 2017

    What happens when memories, already slippery, are further massaged by literary and cinematic narrative strategies? How is the historical "past" remembered, forgotten, and subverted in a literary "presence"? This tutorial explores the politics of memory in contemporary literatures and films from the People's Republic of China (post-socialist era, 1978), Taiwan (post-martial law, 1987), and Hong Kong (postcolonial era, 1997). We will look at how literary and cinematic works in each of these "post" societies represent state-sponsored narratives of remembrance, dissidents' collective amnesia, and at the popular level, a playful yet cynical flirtation with politics. With close- and distant- readings of textualized and visualized memories, we will examine themes of nation and locality, public and private, amnesia and nostalgia, and home and diaspora in the PRC, Taiwan, and Hong Kong from the late 1980s until to today. Course readings include "root-seeking", "new realist", "avant-garde" and "hooligan" novels, examples from the Taiwanese small theater movement, and the transnational cinemas made by the fifth, sixth, and second new wave filmmakers from these three "post" societies. [ more ]

    CHIN 252Bridging Theory and Practice: Learning and Teaching Chinese as a Second Language

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This course introduces students to the principles of second language acquisition (SLA), a field of study that investigates how people learn a foreign language and provides a basis for understanding research related to foreign language learning and teaching. Theoretical issues to be covered include what it means to know a language, how one becomes proficient in a foreign language, factors that affect the learning process, and the role of one's native language. We will also examine what SLA research has discovered about teaching grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, and writing. The goal is to explore ways in which SLA theories can be applied to facilitate acquisition of Chinese in terms of learning strategies and curriculum design. This course will be useful to both students who want to improve their own learning of Chinese and those who plan to teach or conduct research on Chinese. All readings in English with some examples in Chinese. [ more ]

    CHIN 253"Disease" in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

    Last offered Fall 2016

    From early modern anxieties about China's status as the "sick man of Asia" to contemporary concerns regarding the prospect of transnational pandemics, "diseases" and their related stories have played a critical role in making and contesting individual psychologies and Chinese modernity in the 20th and 21st centuries. Actual diseases, from tuberculosis to AIDS, constitute not only social realities that trouble political and popular minds in their own right; but further provide powerful metaphors for exploring issues of human rights, national identity, and transnational circulation. This course examines how Chinese literature in the 20th and 21st centuries writes and visualizes "disease"--a universal human experience that is nevertheless heavily bounded by culture and history. Specifically, we examine the cultural and social meaning of "disease"; the relationship between diseases on the one hand, and the politics of body, gender, and class on the other; we ask how infectious (sexual) disease, and mental illness are defined, represented, and understood in both male and female writers' analytical essays and fictional writings in the 20th century; we examine how metaphorical "diseases," such as infectious cannibalism and fin-de-siecle "virus," are imagined and interpreted by key culture figures ranging from the founding father of modern literature (Lu Xun), to the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature (Mo Yan), to the "Second New Wave" film director of Taiwanese Cinema (Tsai Ming-liang); and we explore how Freud's psychoanalysis and post-Freudian psychotherapy are "practiced" in literature circulated in both print and internet cultures. Throughout the course, we will focus on the interplay between literature canons (fictions, essays, and dramas) and popular media and genres: blockbuster cinemas and art house films, popular novels, photographs and posters, etc. [ more ]

    CHIN 272The History and Mythology of Chinese Scripts

    Last offered Spring 2018

    Written scripts using what are most often called "Chinese characters" have an attested history of over 3000 years and have been used all over the world to represent a range of different languages. In this course we will examine the history and development of Chinese characters from their earliest extant examples on sacrificial animal bones to their often amusingly misguided use for contemporary tattoos. We will look at historical evidence and mythology, carefully constructed grammatological studies and wild orientalist imaginings. Some topics will include: comparisons between the development of Chinese characters and other written scripts, the relationship between Chinese characters and the languages of China, the use of Chinese characters to write non-Chinese languages, Chinese characters in art and calligraphy, theories of connections between Chinese characters and Chinese philosophy and literature, issues of education and literacy, and the future of Chinese characters in the digital age. [ more ]

    CHIN 301(F)Upper-Intermediate Chinese

    The goal of this course is to continue developing students' overall language proficiency. However, special emphasis will be on strengthening students' reading and writing proficiency in standard written Chinese, the grammar and vocabulary of which differ considerably from colloquial Chinese introduced during the first two years of instruction. Conducted in Mandarin. [ more ]

    CHIN 302(S)Upper-Intermediate Chinese

    The goal of this course is to continue developing students' overall language proficiency. However, special emphasis will be on strengthening students' reading and writing proficiency in standard written Chinese, the grammar and vocabulary of which differ considerably from colloquial Chinese introduced during the first two years of instruction. Conducted in Mandarin. [ more ]

    CHIN 312(S)Introduction to Classical Chinese

    This course is an introduction to the grammar and basic vocabulary of Classical Chinese, the standard written language of China from around the seventh century BCE through the 1920s (and for many centuries an important written language in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam as well). Aspects of Classical Chinese continue to play a role in both written (e.g., in newspaper, academic, and legal writing) and in spoken (e.g., proverbs and aphorisms) modern Chinese. Our work in this course will be based on reading, translating, and discussing philosophical, political, literary, and historical anecdotes from the Spring and Autumn (770-481 BCE) through the Han (206 BCE-220 CE) periods, as they served as the foundation for the language. We will conduct discussions of grammatical and philological issues primarily in English and most of our translation work will be from Classical Chinese into English. We will, however, frequently discuss the points of intersection between Classical and Modern Chinese. Students are required to have completed CHIN 202 or the equivalent. Students who have extensive reading knowledge of Chinese characters through other languages (such as Japanese) may also take this course with the instructor's permission. [ more ]

    CHIN 401(F)Advanced Chinese

    This course is designed to enhance the Chinese language proficiency of students who are already at relatively advanced levels. A wide assortment of materials is used including (for speaking/comprehension) audiotapes, videotapes, and films featuring Chinese speakers from various segments of society; and (for reading) newspaper and magazine articles dealing with Chinese politics and economics as well as selections from modern Chinese literature. Conducted in Mandarin. [ more ]

    Taught by: Lu Kou

    Catalog details

    CHIN 402(S)Advanced Chinese

    This course is designed to enhance the Chinese language proficiency of students who are already at relatively advanced levels. A wide assortment of materials is used including (for speaking/comprehension) audiotapes, videotapes, and films featuring Chinese speakers from various segments of society; and (for reading) newspaper and magazine articles dealing with Chinese politics and economics as well as selections from modern Chinese literature. Conducted in Mandarin. [ more ]

    CHIN 413Intermediate Classical Chinese: Ideas of Authority in Classical Chinese Literature

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This course builds on the foundation established in Introduction to Classical Chinese (CHIN 412) by examining longer and more complicated texts from the Warring States (403-221 BCE) and Han (206 BCE-220 CE) periods. While our focus will be on careful linguistic analysis and translation, we will also discuss these texts in terms of their philosophical ideas, rhetorical methods, and cultural and historical contexts. The works we will read include some of the foundational texts of Chinese philosophical and political thought, including the Confucian Analects, the Mencius, and the Zhuangzi. While this course is a continuation of Chinese 312, students with prior work in Classical Chinese (through study abroad, attending high school in a Chinese speaking region, etc.) are welcome as well. [ more ]

    CHIN 420(S)Masterpieces in Modern Chinese Literature

    "To modernize the Chinese people, it has to start from the modernization of the genre 'novel'." Liang Qichao, the famous Chinese intellectual in the early twentieth century, envisioned a collapsing China to be salvaged by, first, its modernized literature. Indeed, throughout China's long century of struggle, exploration, and transformation, literature has been playing a crucial role in negotiating (the consequence of) modernity, fueling revolution, investigating human interiority, constructing national identity, and coping with trauma and diaspora. This course introduces students to the masterpieces in modern Chinese literature and their representations of critical events in twentieth-century Chinese history. We will read novels, poems, prose pieces, and plays, and pay close attention to the language and literary devices that the authors use for storytelling, characterization, and self-representation. The class is organized by themes, such as, for example, modernity, revolution, diaspora, root-seeking, trauma, science fiction and so on. Through class discussions, writing assignments, and oral presentation on the final project, this course will further develop students' language proficiency, especially reading ability and effective communication in a formal setting. This course also trains students to be a critical reader who will be able to not only analyze the key moments and literary masterworks of modern China but also reflect on the complexity of Chinese culture vis-a-vis its tradition and the global context. The class will meet in one large group meeting once a week and the second meeting will be in smaller groups. The course is conducted in Mandarin. [ more ]

    Taught by: Lu Kou

    Catalog details

    CHIN 422 TOld Shanghai, New Shanghai

    Last offered Spring 2018

    Once nicknamed as "Paris of the East," Shanghai, now a megacity with a population of 25 million, is the industrial, commercial and financial center of contemporary China. Shanghai is often depicted as a metropolis that marked the beginning of China's modernity and urban culture. People from other regions in China see Shanghai as a city full of opportunities, but characterize its people as astute and shrewd, cocky and unwelcoming. Foreigners, however, find the city appealing and its people open-minded. Jews fleeing Nazi persecutions during WWII, found Shanghai to be a "paradise of ghetto" that provided the only haven of survival. For local people, there have always been two Shanghai: an old one and a new one. They are proud of the new Shanghai but constantly nostalgic about the old one. This tutorial examines the multifaceted city of Shanghai and its people from historical and cultural perspectives. We will look at the city's history (from the late nineteenth century to present day), its local language and culture, and everyday life of the people (including migrants and foreigners) living in it. The central ideas we will explore are "modernity" and "regional identity." We will investigate how these theoretical constructs play out in the making of the city of Shanghai and the formation of its unique local identity. Course readings include historical and cultural studies as well as documentaries in English about Shanghai, and primary sources in Chinese in a wide range of genres including fiction, essays, and films (English translation of the primary sources are available for students taking the course in English). The course is conducted in either Chinese or English. Students wishing to take the course in English should register under ASST 122T and students wishing to take the course in Chinese should register under CHIN 422T. Students will come away with a critical understanding about China's regional cultures and one of its most important metropolitan cities. Chinese language learners will be able to improve their reading and writing skills in Chinese through this course. The course has a required field trip to a Chinese restaurant on a Saturday or Sunday, depending on all students' schedules. [ more ]

    CHIN 425(F)Becoming Taiwan: Social, Cultural, and Economic Discourses of Modern Day Taiwan

    A small island in East Asia and home to 23 million people, Taiwan is the largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations. From 1949, when the Nationalist Party (KMT) retreated to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War, to becoming one of the Four Asian Tigers in the latter half of the 20th century, Taiwan has developed into a multifaceted society through an array of social/cultural/economic changes associated with industrialization, globalization and identity formation. In this course, we will examine some of the signal examples of these experiences that define the Taiwan society that it is today through literary works and films, as well as journalistic and academic articles. By way of group discussions and individual projects, students will acquire domain-specific vocabulary and develop abilities to analyze and discuss in Mandarin complex ideas related to the aforementioned issues. Using a semi-tutorial format and collaborating with a graduate program in Chinese pedagogy in Taiwan, this course is designed to provide opportunities for Williams students to engage in direct conversation with a language partner on course assignments and for the MA students in Taiwan to gain practical training in helping non-native speakers of Mandarin Chinese develop linguistic proficiency at the levels of Advanced Low to the Advanced Mid based on the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. [ more ]

    CHIN 431Introduction to Chinese Linguistics

    Last offered Spring 2017

    Is Chinese--whose nouns "lack" number and whose verbs have no tense--a monosyllabic, "primitive" language? Are the Chinese characters a system of logical symbols or "ideographs," which indicate meaning directly without regard to sound? Could (and should) the characters be done away with and alphabetized? Are Cantonese, Hakka, and Taiwanese dialects or languages? And what is the relationship between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese? These are some of the questions we will be taking up in this one-semester introduction to the scientific study of the Chinese language. Topics to be covered include: the phonological, syntactical, and lexical structure of Modern Standard Chinese; the Chinese writing system; the modern Chinese dialects; the history of the Chinese language; sociolinguistic aspects of Chinese; and language and politics in various Chinese-speaking societies. Readings in English and Chinese, with class discussion in Mandarin [ more ]

    CHIN 497(F)Independent Study: Chinese

    For students who have completed Chinese 402 and Chinese 412 or equivalent. Interested students must contact the Coordinator of the Chinese Program one semester in advance and present a proposal to the Coordinator or the professor with whom they wish to study during pre-registration week. [ more ]

    CHIN 498(S)Independent Study: Chinese

    For students who have completed Chinese 402 and Chinese 412 or equivalent. Interested students must contact the Coordinator of the Chinese Program one semester in advance and present a proposal to the Coordinator or the professor with whom they wish to study during pre-registration week. [ more ]

  • JAPN 101(F)Elementary Japanese

    An introduction to modern spoken and written Japanese, the course aims to instill proficiency in Japanese by developing four necessary skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing to successfully interact with native speakers. The relationship between language and culture and the sociolinguistically appropriate use of language will be stressed throughout. Audio, video and computer--assisted learning materials will be used extensively. Classes consist of a combination of "act" classes, conducted exclusively in Japanese, where students use the language in various types of drills and communicative activities, and "fact" classes, conducted in Japanese and English, where students learn about the language and culture. [ more ]

    JAPN 102(S)Elementary Japanese

    An introduction to modern spoken and written Japanese, the course aims to instill proficiency in Japanese by developing four necessary skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing to successfully interact with native speakers. The relationship between language and culture and the sociolinguistically appropriate use of language will be stressed throughout. Audio, video and computer--assisted learning materials will be used to facilitate learning. Classes consist of a combination of "act" classes, conducted exclusively in Japanese, where students use the language in various types of drills and communicative activities, and "fact" classes, conducted in Japanese and English, where students learn about the language and culture. [ more ]

    JAPN 131(F)Introduction to Japanese Linguistics

    This course is an introduction to the basic ideas and methodology of linguistics. We learn how to formally analyze the patterns of speech sounds (phonetics and phonology), word formation (morphology), sentence structures (syntax), and meanings (semantics and pragmatics). Other topics, such as first language acquisition and language variations, may be discussed as needed. Although we use Japanese as the primary target data throughout the course, we occasionally look at data from other languages for further application of linguistic methodology and for the better understanding of cross-linguistic variations and underlying universality across languages. Classes are conducted in English. [ more ]

    JAPN 153Japanese Film

    Last offered Fall 2015

    From the swashbuckling samurai films of Kurosawa and delicate family dramas of Ozu to edgy cinematic experiments and a breathtaking range of animation, Japan has one of the most varied and exciting film traditions in the world. This course will introduce you to major periods, genres, and directors in that tradition. We will read film criticism that represents a range of approaches, but focus particularly on learning and practicing the kind of close visual analysis that will allow you to build your own original descriptions of how a given scene "works." Throughout the course we will consider the relationship between classic cinema and popular genres like sword flicks, melodramas, psychological thrillers, and anime, focusing particularly on directors whose work seems to borrow equally from genre film and the artistic avant-garde. All texts are translated or subtitled. All levels welcome. [ more ]

    JAPN 201(F)Intermediate Japanese

    This course is a continuation of First-Year Japanese 101-102, further developing the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The same general methodology will be used. Upon completing the course, students will have been introduced to most of the major structural patterns of contemporary Japanese and will be able to read simple expository prose. [ more ]

    JAPN 202(S)Intermediate Japanese

    This course is a continuation of Japanese 201, further developing the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The same general methodology will be used. Upon completing the course, students will have been introduced to most of the major structural patterns of contemporary Japanese and will be able to read simple expository prose. [ more ]

    JAPN 223Japanese Food Culture in a Global Context

    Last offered Spring 2018

    The bourgeoning popularity of Japanese food on a global scale has resulted in a surge of new research, literature, and films. Conversely, the effects of globalization have transformed the dining experience within Japan to be ever more multiethnic. This interdisciplinary course explores the complex relationship between food and culture in Japan, and the emergence of Japanese cuisine as a global phenomenon, referring to a variety of materials and practices. Topics to be addressed include modernization, nation-building, militarization, globalization, the environment, and popular culture. [ more ]

    JAPN 258(S)Language and Literacy Development

    Language is uniquely a human function and fundamental to one's participation in society. Children learn to talk in the first three years of life at an impressive speed. However, in order to successfully participate in academic and social life, it is critical for one to develop literacy skills. Learning to read is a multifaceted process that involves various cognitive resources. This course is an introduction to language development and literacy acquisition in first language and in a cross-linguistic environment including Japanese, Chinese and English. Linguistic concepts such as phonology, syntax and morphology will be introduced as we discuss the acquisition processes. Questions to be addressed include: How does a child develop oral language from birth? How does a child learn the meaning of words? How is learning to talk and read similar or different across various languages? How is learning to read different from learning to speak? How "natural" is it to learn to read? [ more ]

    JAPN 260(F)Japanese Theatre and its Contemporary Context

    Japan's rich and varied performance traditions, old and new, born of different historical settings, coexist to this day and compete for the attention of audiences, domestically and abroad. The forms to be considered (nohgaku, kabuki, bunraku, shingeki, butoh, and Takarazuka all female revue among others) are all dynamic. Each has transformed itself in response to evolving social conditions. This course examines these performance traditions, considers how each reflects the social, cultural, and political context of its birth, and poses the question, "of what relevance is each to a contemporary audience?" Some of the other questions we will explore are: How have these performing traditions transformed themselves throughout history, including after 3.11? What do we mean by traditional? contemporary? How are traditional and contemporary performance genres interacting with each other? How have the central themes of these works evolved? All readings and discussion will be in English. [ more ]

    JAPN 274 TConfronting Japan

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This tutorial looks into confrontations, within Japan and across its borders, how such confrontations are perceived, handled and narrated, and what they tell us about Japanese society. Through literature and other media, we will probe domestic issues, such as gender/economic disparities, aging, minorities, suicide, reclusion and post 3-11 recovery, and international issues, related to Japan's shifting roles within East Asia and beyond. Discussions will untangle the conflicting perspectives, and elaborate the thoughts and feelings of the various contestants. All readings and discussions will be in English. Some course materials will also be available in Japanese, for those interested. [ more ]

    JAPN 276Premodern Japanese Literature and Performance

    Last offered Spring 2017

    Some of Japan's performance traditions, which developed in different historical settings, have survived to this day and continue to coexist and compete for the attention of audiences both domestically and abroad. This course examines the Japanese literature of three major periods in Japan's history, focusing on how literary and performance traditions have been interrelated in the unfolding of Japanese literary history. We will begin by looking into the Heian period (794-1185), when the work of female authors occupied center stage and some of the canonical texts of the Japanese literary and cultural tradition were born. Next we will consider the medieval period (1185-1600), which saw the rise of the samurai class and the consequent shift in the domain of artistic creation. Then we will look at the Edo period (1600-1867), when a new bourgeois culture flourished and audiences were greatly transformed. We will also explore the continuing force of premodern literary traditions in contemporary performing arts. All readings and discussions will be in English. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    JAPN 301(F)Upper-Intermediate Japanese

    This course is a continuation of Japanese 201 and 202. Students will, further develop the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, while consolidating the foundations built in Elementary and Intermediate Japanese. The same general methodology will be used. In this course, students begin to emphasize vocabulary building through the study of situationally oriented materials stressing communicative competence. The reading of expository prose in both semi-authentic and authentic materials of intermediate difficulty will also receive some extensive attention. [ more ]

    JAPN 302(S)Upper-Intermediate Japanese

    This course is a continuation of Japanese 301. Students will, further develop the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, while consolidating the foundations built in Elementary and Intermediate Japanese. The same general methodology will be used. In this course, students begin to emphasize vocabulary building through the study of situationally oriented materials stressing communicative competence. The reading of expository prose in both semi-authentic and authentic materials of intermediate difficulty will also receive some extensive attention. [ more ]

    JAPN 401(F)Advanced Japanese

    A continuation of Japanese 301 and 302, developing speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in the discussion of social issues in contemporary Japan. Topics may vary according to the level of the students. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    JAPN 402(S)Advanced Japanese

    A continuation of Japanese 401, developing speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in the discussion of social issues in contemporary Japan. Topics may vary according to the level of the students. [ more ]

    JAPN 403Advanced Seminar in Japanese I

    Last offered Fall 2015

    This course provides advanced training in listening, speaking, reading and writing Japanese, focusing on current issues in Japan. [ more ]

    JAPN 404Advanced Seminar in Japanese II

    Last offered Spring 2016

    This course is designed for advanced Japanese language students. The goal is for students to be able to carry on extended discourse--such as a discussion, a speech, or an interview--in a culturally appropriate manner; to read authentic materials with ease; and to make presentations and write research papers on issues of interest. The course will focus on current social, cultural, educational, and political issues in Japan. [ more ]

    JAPN 407 T(F)An Exploration of Japanese Language and Culture

    Language is the primary means for human beings to lead social lives and it expresses, embodies and symbolizes cultural and social reality. This tutorial will examine the intertwining ways in which the Japanese language reflects the patterns of life and intrinsic beliefs of Japanese, while exploring how this linguistic code may influence and shape the ways Japanese think. We will look into the following topics: polite language and the variety of personal pronouns in order to examine how the hierarchical structure of Japanese society is reflected in them. Also, we will explore women's speech, youth and queer Japanese to discuss social and gender identities and the role of linguistic stereotypes in manga, anime and TV dramas as well as the "easy Japanese movement," which depicts the shift from a monolingual to multilingual Japanese society. And finally, our examination will investigate the semantic and cultural losses that occur in translations from Japanese prose to English prose. The course is conducted in either Japanese or English with materials drawn from linguistics and sociocultural studies both in Japanese and English. Students wishing to take the course in English should register under ASST 207T and students wishing to take the course in Japanese should register under JAPN 407T. Japanese language learners will not only develop analytical and critical thinking, but will gain more advanced Japanese skills such as reading to understand the logic of arguments, exponent narrative, and academic presentations and writing. [ more ]

    JAPN 486 TThe Pacific War in Japanese Historical Memory

    Last offered Fall 2013

    Almost seven decades after Japan's surrender, the enduring question of how to remember the Pacific War continues to provoke controversy both within Japan and between Japan, South Korea, and China. This tutorial will explore how this difficult past has been remembered in postwar Japan, and how and why these memories have changed from 1945 to the present. Our focus will be on certain sites of memory--museums, shrines, literature, textbooks, and films--and how they have expressed and shaped memories of various aspects of the war from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to military comfort women and the Nanking massacre. Key issues include how various Japanese have tried to make sense of death and personal sacrifice in the name of a lost war; the implications of Japan's unique position as both perpetrator of wartime atrocities and victim of atomic bombings; the relationship between memory and nationalism; and what it means to come to terms with pasts contested both within and between countries. [ more ]

    JAPN 497(F)Independent Study: Japanese

    Japanese independent study. For students who have completed Japanese 402 or the equivalent. [ more ]

    JAPN 498(S)Independent Study: Japanese

    Japanese independent study. For students who have completed Japanese 402 or the equivalent. [ more ]