Fall 2021 Course Decriptions

Chinese Language and Literature Courses

The course is designed for students who are of non-Chinese origin and were not raised in a Chinese-speaking environment; or who are of Chinese origin but do not speak Chinese and whose parents do not speak Chinese. The course develops beginning learners’ functional language ability—the ability to use Mandarin Chinese in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways at the beginning level. It helps students acquire communicative competence in Chinese while sensitizing them to the links between language and culture.


This course is designed specifically for Mandarin heritage students who possess speaking skill but little or no reading and writing skills in Chinese. The course utilizes students’ prior knowledge of listening and speaking skills to advance them to the intermediate Chinese proficiency level in one semester. Close attention is paid to meeting Mandarin heritage students’ literacy needs inmeaningful contexts while introducing a functional vocabulary and a systematic review of structures through culturally related topics. The Hanyu Pinyin (a Chinese Romanization system) and traditional/simplified characters are introduced. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor.


The course is designed for students who have had exposure to a non-Mandarin Chinese dialect but cannot speak Mandarin and possess little or no reading and writing skills in Chinese. The course helps students gain a fundamental knowledge about Mandarin Chinese and explore their Chinese heritage culture through language. Students learn ways and discourse strategies to express themselves and develop their linguistic and cultural awareness in order to function appropriately in Mandarin-speaking environments. 
Note: For students who: 1) were born in a non-Chinese speaking country but were raised in a home where a non-Mandarin Chinese dialect was spoken but cannot speak Mandarin and possess little or no reading and writing skills in Chinese; 2) were born in a Chinese-speaking country in a home where a non-Mandarin Chinese dialect was spoken and received zero or limited formal education up to the second grade. All students must take the online Chinese Language Placement Test at ealc.berkeley.edu before enrolling. Test results must be reported in a course survey before the first day of class for instructor verification. Students are responsible for enrolling in the appropriate level and section. They must also accurately inform instructors about their language proficiency level. Any student who enrolls in a class below his/her level will be dropped.

Elementary Cantonese 3A is designed for non-Chinese heritage learners with no prior knowledge of Cantonese, a regional variety of Chinese, introducing students to its use through oral, written and visual texts related to daily life. Topics include meeting people, shopping, leisure activities, telling the time, discussing daily routines, describing people and family members, and transportation, and students will compose texts in Cantonese that show the relationship between language and culture. Finally, the course develops students’ awareness of socio-culturally situated language use and their ability to compare and negotiate similarities and differences between the target culture and their own culture.

The course is designed for students who are of non-Chinese origin and were not raised in a Chinese-speaking environment, or who are of Chinese origin but do not speak Chinese and whose parents do not speak Chinese. The course deals with lengthy conversations as well as narrative and descriptive texts in both simplified and traditional characters. It helps students to express themselves in speaking and writing on a range of topics and raises their awareness of the connection between language and culture to foster the development of communicative competence. Prerequisites: Chinese 1 or Chinese 1B; or consent of instructor


A constellation of banquet song-forms of the Tang came to form, from the 12th century onward, the lyric genre—increasingly practiced as a literary form defined by metrical and stylistic norms, divorced from its musical origins—that we now typically refer to simply as “song lyric,” or ci 詞. The history of this form includes many of the most celebrated works and authors in premodern tradition; the history of the genre’s emergence and of its conceptualization within the world of texts, moreover, affords a series of intriguing reference points for understanding the status of “literature” for premodern writers and audiences, and worlds of performance, both musical and social. In this semester we will read extensively in primary works from the tradition along with relevant traditional critical and musicological sources, and consider a range of approaches to the genre reflected in late imperial and modern scholarship.

East Asian Languages and Cultures Courses

What comes to your mind when thinking about an island? Is it a geographical object, an anthropological site, a tourist destination, a military base, or a data storage center? This course looks at the ideas and imaginations about the islands and archipelagos in modern East Asia. We will discuss how these ideas and imaginations have been shaped by different social and natural forces: migration, imperial expansion, technological development, and environmental impact. To rethink the significance of island cultures within the global networks of cultural, commodity, and information exchanges, we will go through the following topics: (1) the indigenous cultures and worldviews, (2) the tropical and the oceanic trade network, (3) the forefront of the Cold War geopolitics, (4) the migration and cultural hybridity, and (5) the environmental challenge and an islandic futurity. Around these topics, we will discuss short stories, photographs, and films from Taiwan, Japan, and China (in English translation and with English subtitles), along with related analytical articles. Students will be expected to think analytically about literature, images, music or films, and to develop skills of close reading, making arguments, constructing theses, library research, self-editing, peer reviews, and presentations. 


Speculative fiction is a broad literary genre which includes science fiction, fantasy and magical realism.   Although this genre speaks of other worlds and realities, we will be contextualizing the speculative fiction we read in this class through the real world histories and experiences of AAPI diasporas.  From the creation of paranormal entities to dystopian futures,  AAPI authors reflect the hopes, fears and complex struggles of navigating a globalized world through their unique imaginings of new (and old) worlds. This class will explore how AAPI authors interrogate themes of race, power, community and diasporic identity to creatively engage in a place-making project through speculative fiction.  


This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the history, teachings, and practices of the Buddhist tradition. We will begin with a look at the Indian religious culture from which Buddhism emerged, and then move on to consider the life of the Buddha, the early teachings, the founding of the monastic order, and the development of Buddhist doctrinal systems. We will then turn to the rise of Mahāyāna Buddhism, and the transformation of Buddhism as it moved from India to China, Japan, Tibet and the countries of Southeast Asia. We will end with a brief look at contemporary controversies over, (1) the tulku (reincarnate lama) system in Tibet; (2) the ordination of Buddhist nuns in Southeast Asia; and (3) the rise and popularity of mindfulness meditation in America. Readings will cover a variety of primary and secondary materials, as well as two short novels, and we will make use of films and videos. There are no prerequisites for this course—everyone is welcome. But the course does demand a great deal of time and effort on the part of  students. There is a lot of reading as well as a short written assignment or quiz each week,  and attendance at all lectures and discussion sections is mandatory. Students should only enroll if they can commit the required time and energy to the course.


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.


How far can we go into the minds and bodies of others? How strongly can we sense their presence? When, and why, do we hit a wall separating us from the world beyond us? In this course we will experiment, through a number of genres and media, with the art of writing (and thinking and feeling) empathetically. These genres and media include diary, fiction, poetry, editorial, letter writing, reportage, description (of nature, art, emotions, psychic states, etc.), film, video, and photography.

Through the prism of psychoanalytical theories, early and contemporary, this course explores a variety of pre-modern and modern East Asian texts—literary, artistic, religious, and theoretical. We will be asking both how these theories enrich our reading of the texts, and how the texts enrich our understanding of the theories. Through close readings of all the material we will begin to discern how theory and text reshape one another, where they mesh productively, and where they insistently stay apart. Topics include: the unconscious, selfhood, repression, attachment, beauty, dreams, ritual, ghosts and haunting, madness, meditative states, mystical experience, mourning, healing, therapeutic method and cure. No prerequisites.

“Realism of the heart” is how the socialist poet Im Hwa described his particular variant of colonial Korean Romanticism. In this seminar, we will investigate the constitutive role “Asia” played in the development of European Romanticism via colonialism and Orientalism in the 18th and 19th centuries and then chart the diffusion of this Romanticism to East Asia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yet this complicated and selective reception by Asian artists requires us to rethink the correlations and correspondences between the two geographical / ideological / periodizing constructions of Europe and Asia in new, often achronological and nonlinear, directions. Pairing canonical theoretical texts from thinkers such as Rousseau, Marx, Freud, Lukács, Lacan, and Badiou with selections of original East Asian works by authors including Natsume Sōseki, Hayashi Fumiko, Yu Dafu, and Yi T’aejun, we seek both a comprehensive understanding of the global, multifaceted Romanticist movement and a healthy appreciation of how the Romantic imagination influenced and radically transformed subsequent iterations of subjectivity, collectivity, and modernity in East Asia. Examining works of poetry, prose fiction, painting, early photography, and music, we will explore such themes as nature and landscape, interiority and temporality, romantic love, childhood and youth, illness and death, supernatural and the uncanny.

Japanese Language and Literature Courses

Japanese 1A is designed to develop basic Japanese language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will learn the Japanese writing system: hiragana, katakana and approximately 150 kanji. At the end of the course, students should be able to greet, invite, compare, and describe persons and things, activities, intensions, ability, experience, purposes, reasons, and wishes. Grades will be determined on the basis of attendance, quiz scores, homework and class participation.


This course is designed for those at high-intermediate to low-advanced level of fluency in Japanese to further develop their reading proficiency through detailed grammatical analyses of selected texts. Although adequate knowledge of both vocabulary and grammar is essential for understanding the text, often in foreign-language learning, vocabulary typically receives more emphasis than grammar. Through assigned texts, students learn through a hands-on approach how words are combined to form a phrase, how phrases are combined to form a clause, how clauses are combined to form a sentence, how sentences are combined to form a text. Readings are selected from modern Japanese writing on current affairs, social sciences, history, and literature. Prerequisites: Japan 10B; or consent of instructor

Content varies; course description coming soon.

Korean Language and Literature Courses

This is a third-year course in modern Korean with emphasis on acquisition of advanced vocabulary and grammatical structure. Prerequisites: Korean 10BX; or consent of instructor.


This course is for students wanting to acquire high-advanced and superior level Korean proficiency in Korean business settings through the nuances of job-related communication and cultural expectations. Students master appropriate workplace terminology, expressions, and professional style spoken and written form. They complete job a search, plan a new product, present and negotiate the product status, and finally present the product externally. In addition, this course will cover Korean job culture topics such as work ethics and relationships. Upon completion, students can expect to be able to more confidently navigate a job search, application process, interview, job acceptance, and common situations in a professional Korean setting. Prerequisites: Korean 100B or Korean 100BX; or consent of instructor.


Mongolian Language and Literature Courses

Tibetan Language and Literature Courses