Fall 2022 Course Descriptions

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.

This course is designed for native and heritage Mandarin speakers. These students share the knowledge of standard Chinese writing system with Cantonese speakers. They have an interest in speaking Cantonese and learning a Chinese subculture shared among Cantonese speakers. This course will introduce 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, transportation, and students will compose texts in Cantonese. Students will focus on vocabulary, linguistic knowledge, culture through expression analysis, and practical use of language. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor.

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


The primary goal of this course is to provide students with the tools for in-depth reading of one of the most famed of Chinese novels, The Story of the Stone (Honglou meng).  Our focus this semester is how this novel treats character, both major and minor.  Honglou meng's rich world is composed of hundreds of characters, a bewildering array that forms a sharp distinction to the more condensed worlds of the contemporary novels that have formed our habits of reading.  We will ask how the novel structures relationships among this cast of hundreds, and how as it progresses it spotlights different aspects of its complex social world.   Most importantly, we will ask how the novel both encourages and discourages interpretation.

Every year, we have a mix of native speakers of Chinese and of English in Chinese 155.  I try to accommodate everyone’s needs.  We often compare the original and the translation; some students will be reading the original and some primarily the translation. The translation we use is David Hawkes' magisterial accomplishment, The Story of the Stone, published by Penguin.  

A secondary goal of this course is to develop your oral and written skills of expression.  To this end, I will ask you to give an in-class presentation, lead a 15-20 minute class discussion once over the course of the semester, and write two papers, one 5-7 pages and one 8-10 pages. 

Fall 2022: description coming soon

This seminar is an intensive introduction to various genres of Buddhist literature in classical Chinese, including translations of Sanskrit and Central Asian scriptures. Chinese commentaries, philosophical treatises, hagiographies, and sectarian works. It is intended for graduate students who already have some facility in classical Chinese. It will also serve as a tools and methods course, covering the basic reference works and secondary

In this seminar, students will read across a range of genres, examining how writers of the medieval period (Six Dynasties and Tang) imagined and represented time and, especially, man’s place—collectively and individually—in it.  After a brief critical survey of selected scholarship on notions of time in traditional China, we will focus on both explicit and implicit treatments of temporality, memory, and change as found in rhapsodies, poetry, letters, biographies, fiction, historical writings, and anecdotes.  Topics of discussion may include: the relationship between perceptual experience and the understanding of time; the sense(s) of duration, and its verbal manifestation; transcendence as both a theme and a motivation for writing; the personal and communal rhetoric of commemoration; the spatial representation of time in poetry and essays; the role of fate and causality in biographical (and autobiographical) writing; the relationship between narration, desire and prognostication; the use of genre as a mode of historical meditation; and formal manifestations of temporal ideation in different genres of literary writing. Prerequisites: Graduate standing (or permission of the instructor) and good reading knowledge of Classical Chinese.

In this seminar we will explore the legacies and resonance of dialectical and speculative thought in modern Chinese culture. We will consider the philosophical roots of dialectics in Hegel and Marx, and then consider their extensions through such figures as Lenin and Mao. We will explore a number of historical controversies, antinomies, and problematics, including: the vexed relationship between literature and life; the dialectics of particularity and universality and their relationship to nationalism/national form; the complexities of aesthetic "type" and "model"; the controversy between "One Divides into Two," "Two Unite as One," and the politics of scission; the PRC aesthetic debates in the 1950s and 1960s; and the antinomies of 1970s-1980s so-called "Marxist humanism." We will also consider Hegelian Marxist explorations in the Soviet Union and the PRC that ran parallel to the development of "Western Marxism." We will also consider cultural texts (film, literature) that engaged these problematics. Requirements: Graduate level standing; reading knowledge of modern Chinese; familiarity with and/or interest in learning critical theory is highly desirable



East Asian Languages and Cultures Courses

This class will help students develop their thinking, reading, viewing, research, and writing skills. Students will create writing that is strong, persuasive, compelling, and interesting in general, and practice writing college-level essays in particular. We will take bodies in Japanese film and media as our topic—including aspects of race, gender, sexuality, disability, and violence—and think about how to write about film and media, the language of visual culture, the ethics of viewing, how to use historical context effectively, and how to do close readings, research, and citation. 

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 discusses the stories about the islands and archipelagoes in modern East Asia. We will go through fiction, photographs, and films from Taiwan and Japan (in English translation or with English subtitles). The course includes 3 unites: (1) East Asian islands within the maritime exchange, (2) colonialism and the indigenous cultures, and (3) the ocean as an environmental archive. We will think about how the archaeological imaginations have been shaped by different social and natural forces: migration, imperial expansion, technological development, and environmental impact. While reflecting on the significance of island cultures within the Inter-Asia and trans-Pacific networks of exchanges, we will learn to analyze literary and visual texts, research references, develop interpretations, build up arguments, and present our ideas. 

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.


Fall 2022: description coming soon

This proseminar in literary theory and methods will serve as an intensive crash course in the interpretative practice known as “close reading,” open to any student who may foreseeably benefit from such practice. While the dominant trend in cultural studies East and West has moved away from formal analysis to prioritize content and context, we will reassess the potential merits of close reading by considering a given work’s aesthetic and medium specificity as we collectively exercise our interpretive muscles. Toward this end, we will pair influential literary-critical texts from scholars in various language areas with a range of East Asian fiction, poetry, painting, music, film and photography on which students will conduct weekly close reading exercises.


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 an overview of Japanese literature and culture, 7th- through 18th-centuries. 7A begins with Japan's early myth-history and its first poetry anthology, which show the transition from a preliterate, communal society to a courtly culture. Noblewomen's diaries, poetry anthologies, and selections from the Tale of Genji offer a window into that culture. We examine how oral culture and high literary art mix in Kamakura period tales and explore representations of heroism in military chronicles and medieval Noh drama. After considering the linked verse of late medieval times, we read vernacular literature from the urban culture of the Edo period. No previous course work in Japanese literature, history, or language is expected.


The goal of this course is for the students to understand the language and culture required to communicate effectively in Japanese. Some of the cultural aspects covered are; geography, speech style, technology, sports, food, and religion. Through the final project, students will learn how to discuss social issues and their potential solutions. In order to achieve these goals, students willlearn how to integrate the basic linguistics knowledge they acquired in J1, as well as study new structures and vocabulary. An increasing amount of reading and writing, including approximately 200 new kanji, will also be required. Prerequisites: Japan 1 or Japan 1B.


In this course we will explore Japanese (and other) cultural material, including literature, thought, film, and photography, through the prism of the aesthetic category of the sublime, and also through other categories such as the uncanny, the gothic, the beautiful, etc. We will draw conceptually on both the Western and the East Asian philopshical and theoretical traditions to explore the aesthetic, philosophical, cultural, and political dimensions of these aesthetic categories and their textual manifestations. Students not able to work in the original Japanese are welcome to join and can read in translation. We also invite students working comparatively, in other disciplines and traditions, to formulate topics relevant to their own work, to present to the group.

Korean Language and Literature Courses

This course is designed for non-heritage students who have absolutely no prior knowledge of the Korean language. Students will learn written and spoken Korean on self-related and day-to-day topics, and present information both in oral and written forms using formulaic and memorized expressions. They will also engage in simple conversational exchanges on a variety of daily topics. Prerequisites: None.


This course is designed for students who already have elementary comprehension and speaking skills in Korean and have minimum exposure to reading and/or writing in Korean. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor.

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.


This course is designed to help advanced Korean students understand the influence of history and politics on contemporary Korean culture. Students will analyze contrastive views on historical events reflected in writings and media. Structured as a seminar format, students will take active roles in a class by sharing their inquiries and findings on course materials. A superior level of speaking and writing competence will be promoted based on advanced reading and listening competence. Prerequisites: Korean 101 or Korean 102; or consent of instructor.

Cold War Culture in Korea: Literature and Film. This course examines the formation and transformation of global Cold War culture in South Korean literature and film of the 20th century. It pays close attention to representations of the Korean War and its aftermath in literature and cinema, but opens up the field of inquiry to encompass larger sociocultural issues related to the Cold War system manifest in literature and cinema. Prerequisites: None.

Mongolian Language and Literature Courses

Tibetan Language and Literature Courses

This seminar provides an introduction to a broad range of Tibetan Buddhist texts, including chronicles and histories, biographical literature, doctrinal treatises, canonical texts, ritual manuals, pilgrimage guides, and liturgical texts. It is intended for graduate students interested in premodern Tibet from any perspective. Students are required to do all of the readings in the original classical Tibetan. It will also serve as a tools and methods for the study of Tibetan Buddhist literature, including standard lexical and bibliographic references, digital resources, and secondary literature in modern languages. The content of the course will vary from semester to semester to account for the needs and interests of particular students.