Spring 2023 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.


Elementary Cantonese 3B 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. Prerequisite: Chinese 3A or consent of instructor.


The second sequence introduces students to Chinese literature in translation. In addition to literary sources, a wide range of philosophical and historical texts will be covered, as well as aspects of visual and material culture. 7B focuses on late imperial, modern, and contemporary China. The course will focus on the development of sound writing skills.


The course further develops students’ linguistic and cultural competence. In dealing with texts, students are guided to interpret, narrate, describe, and discuss topics ranging from real-life experience and personal memoir to historic events. Intercultural competence is promoted through linguistic and cultural awareness and language use in culturally appropriate contexts. Prerequisites: Chinese 10A; or consent of instructor.


The course continues to develop students’ literacy and communicative competence through vocabulary and structure expansion dealing with topics related to Chinese heritage students’ personal experiences. Students are guided to express themselves on complex issues and to connect their language knowledge with real world experiences. Prerequisites: Chinese 1X; or consent of instructor.


The course helps students further develop their linguistic and cultural competence in Mandarin Chinese. It trains students to use Mandarin more appropriately and confidently in speaking, reading, and writing. With the expanded repertoire of Chinese language use and the increased awareness of the differences between cultures and subcultures, students are equipped to negotiate their way in an intercultural environment. Prerequisites: Chinese 1Y; or consent of instructor.

Going beyond satisfying basic communicative needs, students would learn to use Cantonese to complete more complicated tasks such as elaborating, comparing, analyzing, defending, debating, etc. Students would be frequently exposed to discussions regarding broader societal issues such as housing, food culture, fashion, safety, recreation, education, etc. Assuming basic competence of Cantonese, the course attempts to relate the learners to Chinese subculture through analyzing the link between Cantonese expressions and societal phenomenon in the Cantonese speaking society. Difference between Cantonese and Mandarin expressions and its cultural implications, as well as the social position of Cantonese globally and regionally. Prerequisites: Chinese 3X; or consent of instructor.

This course continues the development of critical awareness by emphasizing the link between socio-cultural literacy and a higher level of language competence. While continuing to expand their critical literacy skills, students interpret texts related to Chinese popular culture, social change, cultural traditions, politics and history. Through linguistic and cultural comparisons, students understand more about people in the target society and themselves as well as about the power of language in language use to enhance their competence in operating between languages and associated cultures. Prerequisite: Chinese 100A.


This course is designed for Chinese heritage language learners who have taken Chinese 100XA or an equivalent course. It guides learners to use their Chinese language knowledge and skills to survey portions of Chinese history and society and to comprehend Chinese cultural heritage in economic and socio-political contexts. Students read and analyze texts discussing cross-strait relations, Chinese people’s basic living necessities, and their changing lifestyles and mindsets since the economic reforms in mainland China. They are also introduced to several important historical figures in modern Chinese history and to modern literary works. In addition to the continuous development of reading techniques for communicative purposes, critical reading skills in the heritage language are also developed in order to interpret subtle meanings in texts. Different styles and genres of Chinese discourses in speaking and writing are further explored along with an increasingly sophisticated vocabulary, phrases, and structures. Moreover, students are required to be able to read both simplified and traditional versions of Chinese characters. The development of critical reading and writing skills enables students to understand more about people in the target culture and themselves, about what determines values and actions, and about the power of language. Prerequisite: Chinese 100XA. If you have not taken Chinese 100XA, to enroll in this class you must first take the online Chinese Language Placement Exam and be interviewed. Students are responsible for following the instructions at ealc.berkeley.edu to complete the placement process. 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 from the class.

This course is designed to assist students to reach the advanced-mid level on language skills and to enhance their intercultural competence. Students read the works of famous Chinese writers. Movie adaptations of these writings are also used. In addition to reading and seeking out information, students experience readings by interpreting and constructing meanings and evaluate the effect of the language form choice. Prerequisites: Chinese 100B, 100XB, or 100YB. If you have not taken Chinese 100B, 100XB, or 100YB, to enroll in this class you must first take the online Chinese Language Placement Exam and be interviewed. Students are responsible for following the instructions at ealc.berkeley.edu to complete the placement process. 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 from the class.


The second half of a one-year introductory course in literary Chinese, continuing the topics from the first semester, and giving basic coverage of relevant issues in the history of the language and writing system. This course examines the canonical texts of the late-imperial period, placing them in the context of literary culture of the Ming-Qing. The course focuses on a different set of texts each time it is taught; the aim is to introduce students to the primary issues in scholarship of late-imperial fiction and drama over a period of several years. Prerequisite: Chinese 110A.


Modern Chinese Buddhism emerged from a variety of reactions to the challenges posed by modernity. The course aims at introducing students to the ways in which Buddhists in China have engaged and continue to engage with the formation of a modern state and society in a globalized world. The course will follow the trends of Chinese Buddhism from the early twentieth century down to the most recent developments in the present. In exploring modern constructions of Buddhism in China, we will distinguish between modernism and modernity, and investigate how Chinese Buddhists introduced reforms and innovations, while also attempting to maintain continuity with traditional ideals and modes of practice.

This class is designed as a hands-on introduction to classical Chinese poetry, with an eye to developing the student’s ability to read and interpret poems in the original. Through the mutually informative processes of close reading and translation, supported by a selection of secondary writings offering relevant context, students will learn to perceive and articulate the aesthetic, formal, philosophical, and socio-historical features of selected poems thought to be representative of particular poets, periods, movements, and genres. Prerequisite: Chinese 10B or permission of the instructor. Advanced students in Japanese and Korean (with reading knowledge of Chinese characters) are welcome.



This course examines the development of Confucianism in pre-modern China using a dialogical model that emphasizes its interactions with competing viewpoints. Particular attention will be paid to ritual, conceptions of human nature, ethics, and to the way that varieties of Confucianism were rooted in more general theories of value.


This course sets out to examine a set of “focus chapters” from the Zhuangzi along several dimensions: 1) in the context of Warring States thought, 2) as independent stories that need to be puzzled through and read critically, and 3) tracing the influence of those chapters on subsequent periods of Chinese thought.


For many aspects of traditional education and literacy, the Analects might be termed a sort of “book zero”— beyond its own particularities of structure and content, it played from very early on an outsized role in defining and in structuring what reading itself was for and about, as well as the ground rules under which reading and interpretation were deemed most “naturally” to be carried out. In the early period, the Analects (along with the Classic of Filial Piety) might often be mentioned as the single classic text that a marginally literate person (say, a military man) had studied; yet its status was never circumscribable to that of a primer. In fact, the interpretive challenges it poses—the problem of interpreting situational meanings; and particularly that of discerning situational meanings of Confucius in particular—are so fundamental to the entire project of Classicism that Analects exegesis may be seen as carrying on a core function within Classicist hermeneutical thought in general. The Classics proper were deemed all to have received the imprimatur of Confucius in some way during his lifetime, through some combination of editorial shaping all the way up to full-blown authorship in the case of the Spring and Autumn Annals. The production of the Analects, by contrast, is traditionally described as emerging from the disciples’ response to the death of Confucius—the project of gleaning, collecting, and preserving fragmentary recollections of his personal teaching in action was at root driven by their unwillingness to “let go” of the Master’s responsive living presence. Thus in the Analects, the horizon within which interpretation occurs is that direction of imaginative and reconstructive effort asymptotically directed toward restoring that very living presence. That personal presence is the missing element that the text’s words are fated to point to without ever being able to adequately “express” it; such an interpretive impasse, signaled for example in the key catch-phrase wei yan 微言, or “subtle speech,” was a central leitmotif both for hermeneutical thought, theories of time and understanding, as well as a generative kernel for a range of other contexts where the rhetoric of direct address, generically embodied in the “recorded speech” genre (yuluti 語錄體), took center stage. In this class we will carry out a chronologically ordered series of readings in primary sources, including both Analects passages and commentary proper, as well as a range of sources that may be viewed as transpositions or afterwritings of the Analects. The general course aims, accordingly, are to deepen our conversancy in the interpretive world of the Analects as well as to learn to apply this Analects-derived interpretive “toolkit” to a broader range of premodern Chinese texts where a direct connection to the Analects itself may be elusive or even absent.

East Asian Languages and Cultures Courses

Sight can be described as a natural human capacity. But what does it mean to see, and to be seen? What is the relationship between the perceiving subject and the perceived object? What happens when one realizes that one has become the object of another’s perception? Through the work of writers, film directors, and thinkers ranging from Europe and East Asia, this course examines how the simple act of seeing raises artistic and philosophical questions about selfhood, performance, truth, beauty, power, and the nature of art itself. Materials that we will explore include Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex, the exemplary Greek tragedy, according to Aristotle, The Tale of Genji, often considered the world’s first novel, and Natsume Sōseki’s Kokoro, perhaps the most the most important modern Japanese novel. 


How do we grasp the present? According a model of linear time, as the present moment is tugged towards the future, a sense of belatedness befalls as it is assimilated into the past. In this class, we take as our object of inquiry the backwards gaze and futuristic imaginaries that inform our understanding of the contemporary in the People's Republic of China. How do filmic and literary works mediate and represent the present through evocations of earlier periods in the twentieth century and projections of the future? In the Chinese context, how does the socialist legacy figure in the experience of contemporaneity? Through frequent in-class writing activities and lively discussion, students will hone their ability to read critically and analytically, pose interesting questions, and construct convincing arguments based on literary and visual analysis. By the end of the course, students will write a 8-10 page final research paper on a topic drawn from our class discussions. A passing grade in this class satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition (R&C) university requirement. No previous knowledge of Chinese is required. 

Ever since the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term in the late nineteenth century, the "Silk Road" has captivated the western imagination, inspiring thoughts of fabled cities and exotic peoples from the Mediterranean basin across central Asia to China and Japan. In addition to discussing aspects of daily life on the Silk Road, this course will draw on a variety of disciplinary perspectives (history, anthropology, religious studies, and so on) to examine some of the underlying notions bound up in the study of such vast cultural regions under a single headway. Relying on the records left by a number of early Western travelers, we will trace the rise of the Silk Road in world history, and explore the role played by different religious traditions in the telling of that history, particularly Buddhism. Prerequisites: None.



Spring 2023 Course Description coming soon

A study of the Buddhist tradition as it is found today in Asia. The course will focus on specific living traditions of East, South, and/or Southeast Asia. Themes to be addressed may include contemporary Buddhist ritual practices; funerary and mortuary customs; the relationship between Buddhism and other local religious traditions; the relationship between Buddhist institutions and the state; Buddhist monasticism and its relationship to the laity; Buddhist ethics; Buddhist "modernism," and so on.


This course offers a cultural history of encounters between Russia and Asia in literature, film and visual art. The lenses of Orientalism, Eurasianism and Internationalism will be used to analyze Russian interactions with three spaces: the Caucasus, Centr

This course studies the purview of astral science under Buddhist dominion. Here it is at once promoted for promulgating Buddhist world order and repudiated for begetting the suffering-inducing physical universe, a warped vessel of ceaselessly turning stars that the Buddhist dharma must transcend. The course begins with the part astral science plays in genesis, the creation of Buddhist world order. It then covers the science’s central aspects, celestial systems, spatial orientation, time reckoning, the making of a calendar, and publication of an almanac. Thereafter, it treats the science’s outgrowth into interrelated forms of Buddhist propaganda manifest as divination, magic, medicine, ritual, scripture, and iconography.


This course comprises an immersive survey of science fiction - historically the only literary genre fully devoted to imagining the alterity of the future - as it takes on a unique and pressing relevance in contemporary East Asian culture and society. Providing students with both comprehensive training in literary analysis and critical thinking as well as a substantive sociohistorical introduction to contemporary East Asian societies and politics, the course will constitute a solid foundation for the East Asian humanities major. All readings will be in English; no prior knowledge of Asian languages and/or cultures expected.

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.


This seminar reconsiders the epistemic and biopolitical stakes of postwar and contemporary media theory (cybernetics, technical media, philosophies of technology) by focusing on Asia (Japan, Koreas, Taiwan, and Vietnams) as the primary site of warfare and experimentation.  We will probe the entangled histories of war and media as well as the ongoing operations of militarized aesthetics and machines in the historical present.  Drawing upon recent works in the fields of literature, media studies, art history and gender and sexuality studies, this seminar tracks the research methods and theoretical apparatus through which the relation between war and media has come to be articulated.

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.


An introduction to Japanese literature in translation in a two-semester sequence. 7B provides a survey of important works of 19th- and 20th-century Japanese fiction, poetry, and cultural criticism. The course will explore the manner in which writers responded to the challenges of industrialization, internationalization, and war. Topics include the shifting notions of tradition and modernity, the impact of Westernization on the constructions of the self and gender, writers and the wartime state, literature of the atomic bomb, and postmodern fantasies and aesthetics. All readings are in English translation. Techniques of critical reading and writing will be introduced as an integral part of the course.


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 1B.


This course aims to develop further context-specific skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. It concentrates on students using acquired grammar and vocabulary with more confidence in order to express functional meanings, while increasing overall linguistic competence. Students will learn approximately 200 new Kanji. There will be a group or individual project. Course materials include the textbook supplemented by newspapers, magazine articles, short stories, essays, and video clips which will provide insight into Japanese culture and society. Prerequisites: Japan 100A; or consent of instructor.


In this course, students will practice various techniques to read articles in Japanese on current issues in Japan, and they will learn about Japanese conceptions of the world and how Japanese society functions. They may want to compare what they have learned with similar issues in their own countries to deepen their understanding of the issues and develop their critical thinking ability. They will also learn more advanced Japanese grammar and increase their vocabulary. Prerequisites: Japan 100, Japan 100B, or Japan 100X; or consent of instructor.

Introductory reading class focusing on premodern texts written in Kanbun, the Japanese way of reading and writing Classical Chinese. The first half focuses on the orthography and syntax of Kanbun, primarily using examples from military texts from the medieval period. The second half focuses on writings considered artistic, religious (Buddhist), literary, historical, biographical, or ritualistic in nature, including snapshots of doctrinal statements by influential thinkers in the Buddhist tradition. In that Kanbun is Chinese in format but was nearly always read in Classical Japanese word order, this fulfills the Japanese-major requirement of a second semester of Classical Japanese. Also listed as: BUDDSTD C141

This course deals with issues of the structure of the Japanese language and how they have been treated in the field of linguistics. It focuses on phonetics/phonology, morphology, writing systems, dialects, lexicon, and syntax/semantics. Students are required to have advanced knowledge of Japanese. No previous linguistics training is required. Prerequisites: 10B or equivalent.

Highways and Byways in Premodern Japanese Literature

Spring 2023 Course Description coming soon

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 is a continuing course for Korean-American heritage students who have completed K1AX or demonstrated an equivalent proficiency level. More emphasis will be paid on reading and writing in order to establish their balanced four language skills. Students will enhance their linguistic competence by mastering essential grammatical structures and more elaborated daily expressions, as well as accompanying cultures. Prerequisites: Korean 1AX; or consent of instructor.


With equal attention given to speaking, listening, reading, writing, and cultural aspects of the language, students will further develop their language skills for handling various everyday situations. Prerequisites: Korean 1B; or consent of instructor.


This is an intermediate course for Korean-American heritage students who have completed K10AX or demonstrated an equivalent proficiency level. It will emphasize reading and writing so that students can reach a comparable proficiency with their already high speaking and listening skills. More cultural aspects and social phenomena will be covered and students will be able to convey and write more than a paragraph level on various topics. Prerequisites: Korean 10AX; or consent of instructor.


This course is a continuation of K100A for non-heritage speakers. It will place more emphasis on listening and speaking through various authentic materials. Students will conduct individual projects on aspects where they intend to improve on. Various cultural aspects in addition to four-letter idiomatic expressions will be also covered. Prerequisites: Korean 100A; or consent of instructor.


This course is a continuation of K100AX for Korean-American heritage speakers. Students will be introduced to advanced-level Korean by reading authentic texts and writing short compositions, summaries, essays, and critical reviews. They will be encouraged to use advanced vocabulary and expressions including various idiomatic expressions. This course particularly emphasizes on heritage speakers’ speaking and writing competency. Prerequisites: Korean 100AX; or consent of instructor. 


This course is uniquely designed for students who are interested in enhancing their proficiency level up to high-advanced or superior level through the lens of Korean popular media. By analyzing various media such as movies, documentary, TV shows, K-Pop songs, and news articles, students will broaden their knowledge and understanding about Korean society and culture in a deeper level, which is vital in advancing proficiency. Class discussions, presentations, article readings, and essay writings will help students learn and practice how to express their own opinion on various topics from aspects of Korean history to current social issues. Additionally, four-letter idioms, advanced grammars, and vocabularies will be introduced. Prerequisites: Korean 100B or Korean 100BX; or consent of instructor.


This course aims to help students acquire strong language proficiency in spoken and written Korean at the advanced-high (or superior) level required for academic research and in business or other professional fields. The focus will be on building advanced-level vocabulary that is useful in understanding and expressing their opinions on topics, such as social studies, politics, business, policy, and history. Students will gain knowledge in four-letter words, complex idiomatic expressions and proverbs that often appear on editorials, news discourse, and academic writings. Students will also learn skills in formal oral presentations and writing. Prerequisites: Korean 101/102; or consent of instructor.


Mongolian Language and Literature Courses

This course covers the history of Mongolian Buddhism from its inception in the Yuan dynasty to the present. The importance of Mongolian Buddhism to the greater dharma lies not only with the ways of its priests but also with the means of its patrons, the Mongol aristocracy, in forging a distinctive tradition in Inner Asia and disseminating it throughout the world. While maintaining a historical thread throughout, this course will examine in detail some of the tradition’s many facets, including Mongolian-Buddhist politics, the politics of incarnation, the establishment of monasteries, economics, work in the sciences, astral science and medicine, ritual practice, literature, sculpture and painting, music and dance, and more.