East Asian Languages and Cultures Courses

This course will examine comparative responses to and representations of violent conflict. We will pay attention to how catastrophic events are productive of new forms of expression--oral, written, and visual--as well as destructive of familiar ones. We will examine the ways in which experience and its representation interact during and in the aftermath of extreme violence. Our empirical cases will be drawn from our research on responses to WWII atrocities, and on the post-Cold War civil wars in Africa.

This course explores representation of romantic love in East Asian cultures in premodern and post-modern contexts. Students develop a better understanding of the similarities and differences in traditional values in three East Asian cultures by comparing how canonical texts of premodern China, Japan and Korea represent romantic relationship. This is followed by the study of several contemporary East Asian films, giving the student the opportunity to explore how traditional values persist, change, or become nexus points of resistance.

This course provides a forum for reading and discussing East Asia’s greatest and most iconic modern writers, Lu Xun. We will closely read Lu Xun’s major works , discuss his role in the reinvention of the Chinese language and literary tradition, explore the global literary and intellectual currents with which he was deeply engaged, as well as situating him within the tumultuous era of colonialism, modernization, and revolution. All readings will be available in English translation.

This course examines the multiple ways in which the enormous upheavals of modernity have impacted Buddhism and the ways in which Buddhist institutions, beliefs, practices, and values have responded, with a focus on Japan. Because the end of World War II changed the political landscape in fundamental ways throughout Asia, most notably the end of colonialism, the course will be divided into two sections: 1800 to 1945, and 1945 to the present. The course will focus on the example of Japan because of the unusual rapidity with which Japan began an accelerated process of Westernization and globalization at the end of the nineteenth, earlier than any other Buddhist nation, the rise of nationalism as an anti-Buddhist force, and the way in which Japanese Buddhist thinking has recovered from that period. 

This course is a capstone experience that centers on the philosophies and religions of East Asia examined from multiple theoretical perspectives. It comprises several thematic units within which a short set of readings about theory are followed by chronologically arranged readings about East Asia. Themes will alternate from year to year but may include: ritual and performance studies; religion and evolution; definitions of religion and theories of its origins; and the role of sacrifice.

Prerequisites: Preference will be given to majors, especially those with junior or senior standing

This course provides a place for graduate-level seminars in East Asian Studies that rely primarily on secondary scholarship and texts in translation. Content will vary between semesters but will typically focus on a particular theme. Themes will be chosen according to faculty and student interests, with an eye toward introducing students to the breadth of available western scholarship on that subject, from classics in the field to the latest publications.