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Asian Studies

Japanese Civilization
Asian Studies 202 Naamon
3 credits
The course examines the most important intellectual, cultural, political, and social events and trends of Japan from prehistory to the present. The approach is multidisciplinary, examining the development of Japanese political institutions, literary arts, religion, and social values, through both primary texts in translation and a range of secondary materials. The focus of the course will be on the development of Japan from an isolated collection of kingdoms to the first Asian imperial power, on to an economic powerhouse and a leader in pop culture around the world. While Japan emphasizes the homogeneity of its people, we will explore the diversity within and the external and internal forces that have shaped its distinctive character.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F09.
Modern China from the Margins: Class, Gender, Ethnicity, and the Nation State
Asian Studies 225 CP Coggins
3 credits
This course examines the making of Chinese modernity through the construction and contestation of spaces delineating class, gender, ethnicity, and nationhood. Our project is to explore relationships between space and time in narratives on identity dating roughly from the Opium War of the mid-19th century to the era of globalization in the early 21st. Materials for study include scholarly works, political tracts, fiction, essays, documentaries, administrative maps, landscapes, technologies, and more. Our dialogue revolves around the following questions: First, is the concept of the modern nation-state applicable to the People’s Republic of China and is the Chinese nation-state strictly a modern phenomenon? Second, how have cultural others--the non-Han peoples--contributed to the idea of “Zhongguo,” the “Central Kingdom(s),” as opposed to “waiguo,” the outside ethno-political entities, through time? What justifications and social controls have been used to facilitate the incorporation of non-Han territories into the Chinese realm and how is this process continuing in the 21st century? Third, how has the concept of socioeconomic class been conceived by modern Chinese political theorists, and upon which varieties of pre-modern social networks and cultural relations were these ideologies cast? How have class-relations developed over the course of the 20th century and into the present day? Fourth, how have gender relations and sexuality served as catalysts for political revolution and social change since the early 20th century? How have they informed Chinese Communist Party policy since 1949 and how are they changing in the post-reform period of economic liberalization and the hollowing out of the state? Fifth, how has space been defined in regard to the nation, the individual, the body, labor, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, the urban, the rural, and national boundaries in a globalizing world?” Sixth, how have Chinese intellectuals engaged with these issues and the question of China’s position in the global community in the post-Mao period, particularly within the engagement between “patriotic worrying,” post-modern theory, and the prospect of an end to the country’s geopolitical marginalization? Prerequisites: Completion of Accelerated Beginning Chinese, a 200-level course in Asian studies or a 200-level course in social studies.
Mind and Voice in Traditional China
Asian Studies 234 CP Staff
3 credits
This course examines how Chinese thinkers, writers, and artists have viewed the world and expressed their views through their genres of choice. The first unit explores Chinese thought, focusing on principal works of Confucianism, Taoism, Mohism, and Legalism. Students learn to debate both historical and contemporary political and social issues through the ideas of these early Chinese thinkers. The second unit focuses on Chinese poetry, primarily the regulated verse of major Tang Dynasty poets including Wang Wei, Li Bo, Tu Fu, Tao Yuanming, and Tu Mu. Through character-by-character glosses, students learn the principles of reading and writing Chinese poetry. The third unit teaches the fundamental concepts underlying traditional Chinese theater, particularly Kunqu and Beijing Opera. Both visual and oral aspects will be addressed, including a basic introduction to performance techniques. No prerequisites. This course assumes no background in Chinese language or culture.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S09.
Unity of Buddhism and State in Japan
Asian Studies 237 CP Naamon
3 credits
If a group of Japanese are asked their religion, the most likely response is that they have none. The reason is that the Japanese consider Shinto and Buddhism as part of their culture, not as a religion in the Western context. While a separation of “church and state” is written into the Japanese constitution, in fact, such a division does not exist in Japan today, or any time in the past. Buddhism and Shinto totally interpenetrate social, political, economic, and cultural life in a way that eludes those who impose a religion category onto Buddhism and Shinto in Japan. In this course we will examine the unity of Buddhism, and to a lesser extent, Shinto, in the political, cultural, social, and economic realms from the 5th century to the present. Starting before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, we will examine how Buddhist philosophy, power, and practices formed and transformed Japanese life. At the end of the course the student will have a better appreciation of Buddhism and its role in Asian social and cultural development.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S11.
Japan and East Asian Affairs Since 1868
Asian Studies 238 CP Naamon
3 credits
The modern transformation of Japan had a profound effect on the development of a nationalist consciousness among the people of neighboring countries as well as posing a threat to their national sovereignty. In spite of intermittent collisions and collusions among imperial powers in China and Korea, Japan has played a unique and important role in East Asian affairs from the end of the 19th century. This course mainly emphasizes the background to the current political landscape and the cross-cultural interactions of the region.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S12.