East Asian Languages and Cultures Courses

What makes a literary text a "literary" text? Some would answer that literary texts are unique in their use of metaphor, metonymy, and other figurative schemas to frame one aspect of experience in terms of another. In fact, as we will discover together in the readings for this course, the use of figures is a feature of language use in general. Indeed, scholars in a number of fields have argued that thinking itself is an extremely complex process of analogy-making and figuration. In this class, we will look at how figurative language is used in Chinese literature by closely examining selections from ancient philosophical texts, medieval poetry collections, and modern short stories. This class has two main components. First, we will practice reading, outlining, summarizing, and evaluating a wide range of secondary literature drawn from the disciplines of philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and linguistics on the semantic, cognitive, and cultural dimensions of figurative language. Second, we will use the conceptual vocabulary we have built up through our reading of these secondary sources to describe and analyze the use of figurative language in a variety of different kinds of texts drawn from both premodern and modern Chinese literature. By putting these two kinds of sources in dialogue, we will both enrich our own experience of reading and writing about these texts and re-sensitize ourselves to the ways we use figurative language in our own writing. No previous knowledge of China, the Chinese language, or Chinese literature is required.

The arts of reading a text, summarizing its argument, questioning its suppositions, generating balanced opinions, and expressing those opinions with clarity and effectiveness lie at the center of university life and educated human endeavor. EA Lang R1B is designed to help inculcate those skills, paying particular attention to East Asian humanistic topics. This four-unit course focuses on how to formulate questions and hone observations into well reasoned, coherent, and convincing essays. Attention will be paid to the basic rules of grammar, logical construction, compelling rhetorical approaches, research techniques, library and database skills, and forms of citation.

In this course, we will examine works that explore the contesting notions of gender and sexuality in East Asian cinema and media.  Screenings will include classics like Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, along with other works by Ang Lee, Kore’eda Hirozaku, Kawase Naomi, Bong Joon-ho and July Jung.  Class will meet on the following dates: 1/23, 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/6, and 3/20. Note: Enrollment is limited to 13 sophomores and 5 freshmen.

In this course we compare the cultural traditions of tea in China and Japan. In addition, using tea as the case study, we analyze the mechanics of the flow of culture across both national boundaries and social practices (such as between poetry and the tea ceremony). Understanding the tea culture of these countries informs students of important and enduring aspects of both cultures, provides an opportunity to discuss the role of religion and art in social practice, provides a forum for cultural comparison, and provides as well an example of the relationship between the two countries and Japanese methods of importing and naturalizing another country's social practice. Korean tea traditions are also briefly considered.

Higher Learning begins with the study of heaven. As the source of orientation in space and time, heaven provides humanity the foundation for its knowledge and political order. To understand what knowledge is or how politics function, we need a basic understanding of the ways of heaven. This course examines the function heaven serves in the founding of order against the void in nature through the formation of conventional systems of time and space and the role heaven has played in the promulgation of governments. From a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary perspective that covers the course of Eurasian history and using primary sources in translation, we will see heaven unfold through the developments that leave us with the world we know today.

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. 

The future has long been associated with innovation, emancipation and progress.  The act of envisioning the future underlies various physical, socio-political, cultural and environmental projects of varied scale.  Communist revolutions, agrarian reforms, wildlife conservation efforts, heritage preservation, citizenship building and urban planning all constitute a form of envisioning. Geographers have long developed nuanced theoretical and practical understandings of how agency and power in these acts of envisioning can be made legible through a critical engagement with space and environment.  A place is never a mere container of memories or a stage for measuring development.  It plays an active role in shaping the processes of remembering, forgetting and envisioning.   Under the sign of the Anthropocene, how does the notion of space as an actorand human as “geological agent” invite alternative modes of thinking, acting, and envisioning the ways we are and will be living in the world?  How might we understand the different articulations of agency? How is biological, social and political life reproduced and distributed across space and time-- from various pasts, presents, andvariegated forms of future?  This seminar is designed for students working at the intersections of the social sciences and the humanities.  We will examine existing practices and theorization of futurity and its applicability to different disciplines and geographical areas.  With specific case studies, we will mobilize the spatial coordinates of geography (areas, nation-state, regions, urban/rural, wilderness, nature preserve, etc.) to put analytical pressure on competing theories of futurity, emergence and becoming, among other eco-critical concepts in currency.