Spring 2024 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 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 1X; 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 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 or 100XB. If you have not taken Chinese 100B or 100XB, 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.


This course is an introduction to the study of medieval Buddhist literature written in classical Chinese. We will read samples from a variety of genres, including early Chinese translations of Sanskrit and Central Asian Buddhist scriptures, indigenous Chinese commentaries, philosophical treatises, and sectarian works, including Chan (Zen koans). The course will also serve as an introduction to resource materials used in the study of Chinese Buddhist texts, and students will be expected to make use of a variety of reference tools in preparation for class. Readings in Chinese will be supplemented by a range of secondary readings in English on Mahayana doctrine and Chinese Buddhist history. Prerequisites: Chinese 110A; or one semester of classical Chinese. Prior background in Buddhist history and thought is helpful, but not required.

This course discusses Taiwan’s social and cultural transformation throughout its history of colonization, economic development, and democratization. Students are expected to gain a better understanding of Taiwanese history, literature, and culture, new skills in the reading and analysis of textual and cultural artifacts, and the ability to rethink colonialism, nationalism, and resistance in the era of globalization. Prerequisites: Chinese 100A/100XA (may be taken concurrently); or consent of instructor.


Vernacular fiction in late imperial China emerged at the margins of official historiography, traveled through oral storytelling, and reached sophistication in the hands of literati. Covering the major genres and masterpieces of traditional Chinese novels including military, martial arts, libertine, and romantic stories, this course investigates how shifting boundaries brought about significant transformations of Chinese narrative at the levels of both form and content. Prerequisites: None.


The subject of this year’s seminar is Cao Xueqin’s 18th-century novel The Story of the Stone (Honglou meng紅樓夢) and its referents. Critics conventionally read Stone as though it described the lived world of its author.  More than any other pre-modern novel, Stone has generated a wealth of secondary materials regarding the material world which its author is presumed to have known.  We will consider this tradition of reading and ask what has allowed it to adhere, looking at examples from both traditional commentary and contemporary scholarship. We will examine the writing regarding the visual and material culture of the novel, and extend this investigation to analyze the novel’s complicated relation to the question of reference.  We will also look at some of the dramatic sequels to the novel and ask how these dramatizations might illuminate the ways in which the novel created an anticipatory quality of reference that made possible its own sequels. 



The advent of Chinese literary modernity is often associated with the introduction of the modern vernacular language in the early twentieth century. This process, however, was preceded and augmented by a fundamental restructuring of prevailing genre hierarchies, as well as the gradual institutionalization of new systems for the categorization of cultural production. In this seminar, we will familiarize ourselves with various 'genres' of genre theory, while undertaking a concurrent exploration of how genre has worked to constitute new infrastructures for reading and writing in the early twentieth century. The course will culminate with a series of case studies of particular intermedial genres understood as local and contingent inflections of transnationally circulating forms through which the experience of modernity has been mediated.

In recent years, the proliferation and ubiquity of screens across the globe has raised new questions about the ontology, archaeology, and ecology of media. What is a screen? Is it a technical device, a material surface, an optical portal, a spatial construct, or a living environment? Or is it a psychic mechanism, a social interface, a cultural articulation, and a political instrument? How are these questions considered beyond the dominant scope of Europe and North America?

This course examines the histories and theories of the screen from a comparative perspective. By pursuing the divergent, parallel, and intersecting histories and theories of the screen between China and the “West” from antiquity to the present, we interrogate existing notions and assumptions of media, technology, human, and environment to the effect of destabilizing boundaries of both culture and media.

Locating the screen’s deep and plural histories in a variety of settings and arrangements–from religious murals to painted screens, from architectural constructs to optical illusions, from advertising walls to museum installations, from theatrical spectacles to portable media, from surveillance technologies to medical devices–our class will test the limits of a wide range of methodologies from phenomenology, psychoanalysis, critical race and postcolonial studies, philosophy of technology, and platform, infrastructure, and network studies. We will rethink the screen in expanded and innovative ways and consider the critical purchase regarding its theoretical, historiographical, aesthetic as well as political implications.


East Asian Languages and Cultures Courses

This class will aim to move our understanding of the modern gothic beyond horror, while also situating it within its social context as a genre deeply enmeshed in the issues and anxieties of its moment within contemporary Japanese society.

This course examines varying portrayals and interpretations of “Confucius” (Kongzi 孔子) and Confucian traditions from the late nineteenth century through to the present.  Materials considered will include philosophical and religious writings as well as films, self-help books, and accounts of popular practices.  No prior knowledge of Confucian traditions or of Chinese is required.  As an R1B course, this class also emphasizes building reading and writing skills.  

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This course will discuss the social, economic, and cultural aspects of Buddhism as it moved along the ancient Eurasian trading network referred to as the “Silk Road”. Instead of relying solely on textual sources, the course will focus on material culture as it offers evidence concerning the spread of Buddhism. Through an examination of the Buddhist archaeological remains of the Silk Road, the course will address specific topics, such as the symbiotic relationship between Buddhism and commerce; doctrinal divergence; ideological shifts in the iconography of the Buddha; patronage (royal, religious and lay); Buddhism and political power; and art and conversion.


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 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 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.


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 semester, we will explore a wide range of media works with a focus on experimental and narrative cinema, including eco-horror, melodrama, romance, tech-noir, and anime. Going beyond the concerns of auteurism and national styles, we will approach contemporary Japanese cinema and media as a participant in a series of transnational conversations about cybernetics, media mix, gaming and database aesthetics as well as on emergent forms of sociality (gender, race, sexuality) intimated by the reconfigurations of communication technologies. In addition to discussing the transcultural give and take of media theory, we will explore the various intersections of Japanese cinema with other media forms.

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.


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.


This course is designed for students who have studied Japanese at college level for at least three years (450 hours). Students read a variety of texts in Japanese as sources for discussions that deepen their understanding of Japanese society and people. Additionally, they will research related topics, followed by a short presentation in class. Through these activities, students develop further their knowledge of kanji, vocabulary, and Japanese grammar. They will improve their ability to read and write logically, coherently, and effectively in Japanese so that they can express their points of view and construct argumentative discourse. Prerequisites: J100B, J100X, or equivalent; or consent of instructor.

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.


This undergraduate course offers a broad understanding of the non-mainstream independent cinema of South Korea, from its early formative years in the 1980s under the authoritarian regime through to the present renaissance. It traces the indie cinema’s historical origins and transformation, socio-political context and institutional practices, and modes of production, distribution, and exhibition. The course also stresses exploring the changing subject matters, aesthetics, and sensibilities. The questions of identities and affiliations (class, gender, sexuality, national division), affect and ethics, style, genre, and taste form the thematic pillars of the course.

Mongolian Language and Literature Courses

This course introduces students to Literary Mongolian, its phonetics, grammar, vertical writing system and its relation to living spoken language. The course emphasizes reading texts in the Mongol vertical script. As foundation, students receive a basic introduction to Mongolian phonology and grammar as well as learn the Mongol vertical script writing system and a standard system of transcription. After a brief period of introduction students immerse in reading texts. Class time is devoted to reading comprehension, translation, and analysis. Although texts may be drawn to suit student interest, the standard course repertoire will consist of works of Mongolian Buddhist literature and history.


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.


Tibetan Language and Literature Courses

This course is a broad introduction to the history, doctrine, and culture of the Buddhism of Tibet. We will begin with the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century and move on to the evolution of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhist literature, ritual and monastic practice, the place of Buddhism in Tibetan political history, and the contemporary situation of Tibetan Buddhism both inside and outside of Tibet.