Graduate Courses 2020-21




ASIA 510B (012) – Monastic Biography and Hagiography in East Asian Buddhism [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Jinhua Chen

Term 1, Thursdays, 6:00pm-8:30pm

As a general introduction to medieval East Asian (mainly Chinese and Japanese) monastic bio/hagiographical literature, this seminar (for graduate students and advanced under-graduates) will begin with a general discussion of its nature, structure and basic features, which is supplemented by a comparison of East Asian monastic biographies with Chinese secular (official) biographies on the one hand and Western (mainly Christian) biographies on the other. After a brief survey of biographies of nuns, a peculiar portion of East Asian monastic biographical literature, we will formally investigate the functions monastic biographies played in medieval East Asian Buddhism, focusing on the following aspects: (i) the writing of monastic biographies and the formation of sectarian consciousness, (ii) monastic biographies as a vehicle of sectarian ideologies, (iii) monastic biographies as a polemical instrument. In the course of this investigation, we will touch on the historical and textual value of monastic biographical literature, especially its significance for deciphering sectarian agenda. Some general methods of interpreting monastic biographies will also be introduced (in particular, we will stress the necessity and effectiveness of reading monastic biographies in close comparison with their corresponding autobiographies).



ASIA 503A (005) – Writing and Culture in East Asia [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Bruce Rusk

Term 1, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Undergraduate Course: ASIA 300

Practical, aesthetic, historical, technological and political issues pertaining to the use of Chinese characters – hanzi (Chinese), kanji (Japanese), or hanccha (Korean) – throughout the region.


ASIA 508A (017) – Topics in Pre-modern Chinese History and Institutions [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Leo Shin

Term 1, Mondays, 3:00pm-6:00pm
In consultation with interested students, actual meeting time for the rest of the term will be decided at the first meeting.

The goal of this seminar is to introduce students to some of the major problems in Chinese historiography. Emphasis will be placed on issues that are particularly pertinent to the study of later imperial China.


ASIA 512B (034) – Introduction to Classical Chinese [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Kay Duffy

Term 1, Tuesdays Wednesdays Fridays, 11:00am-12:00pm
Undergraduate Course: CHIN 388

The basics of classical Chinese grammar, with short illustrations from texts of the Warring States and early Han Period.


ASIA 570A (035) or ASIA 514B (035) – Contemporary Chinese Popular Cultures [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Renren Yang

Term 1, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-11:00am.
Undergraduate Course: ASIA 319

Histories and Analyses of Chinese popular cultures of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, with an introduction to cultural studies approach, and a selective genealogy of case studies in relation to social changes, national policies, individual choices, everyday experience, and globalization.


ASIA 502A (035) – Modern Chinese Fiction in Translation II [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Renren Yang

Term 2, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-9:30am.
Undergraduate Course: ASIA 361

A survey of narratives of love and betrayal in modern Chinese literature and film, exploring Chinese views of marriage and family, individual and nation-state, gender and sexuality, fate and choice, truth and deception, trust and betrayal, ritual and emotion, and freedom and solidarity. Introduction of sociological and anthropological theories of love for narrative interpretation.


ASIA 570B (004) – Narratives of Violence, Trauma, and Remembrance [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Alison Bailey

Term 2, Thursdays, 3:00pm-6:00pm

This course will focus on (translated) texts dealing with the impact of violent upheavals, wars and, later, revolution, and modernity on Chinese lives mainly at certain key points in recent history: the fall of the Ming dynasty, the end of the Qing dynasty and the Republican era, and the Cultural Revolution. A section of the course will also consider the role of memory, remembrance, and archiving in the time of Covid-19.  Fiction, diaries, oral histories, sociological, historical, and theoretical accounts will be analyzed to consider the ways in which violence and trauma are remembered, told, and re-told over time.  While focusing on Chinese texts and histories, the course will draw upon examples and discussions of violence and trauma from other cultures for a comparative perspective, and show how terrible human acts are represented, glossed over, and at times redeemed through narrative.

Warning: Time limitations mean that we can only focus on a limited number of texts and critical analyses, but it is hoped that participants will draw upon the wide range of studies and materials available to enhance discussions and written assignments. Different types of narrative (including memoir, popular account, oral history, fiction, history and film) will be examined and interrogated to establish critical and informed readings of often disturbing material.  In particular, several studies of the Holocaust will be considered from a comparative perspective because many recent studies of trauma begin with that abhorrent crime.


ASIA 570B (035) – Hong Kong Cinema [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Renren Yang

Term 2, Tuesdays, 4pm-7pm and Thursdays, 5pm-6pm.
Undergraduate Course: ASIA 325

A survey of the aesthetics and politics of Hong Kong cinema from the post-war period to the present. The influence of Hong Kong on global cinema, and the forces (artists, studios, audiences, etc.) that have given rise to filmmaking styles and genres perceived as “distinctively Hong Kong.” Issues of linguistic sovereignty, national imaginary, post-colonial identity, and cultural branding.




ASIA 532A (021) –Teaching Japanese Language through Literature [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Christina Laffin

Term 1, Date and Time: Mondays 5:00 pm–6:00 pm PDT (or best time for participants)

In this seminar we will practice critical approaches to teaching Japanese language through literature by learning about current pedagogy and collaborating to create a set of readings shared as an open educational resource. Our goal will be to reflect on and respond to the call for “Social Justice in the Language Classroom” (Randolph and Johnson 2017) through the process of selecting “authentic resources that provide counterpoint to dominant narratives” and by making these accessible for teaching.

We will begin by reflecting on the 2017 call to action from Randolph and Johnson and the 2019 introduction to “Diversifying Language Educators and Learners” by Anya and Randolph. Turning to an example of past pedagogies in a language through literature course, we will consider strategies for building better teaching resources which enable access, enact critical pedagogies, and diversify our curriculum. We will learn about examples of engaged practices through language programming offered by the Foundation for Ainu Culture and read about the perspectives of Ainu language teachers.

Drawing from the expertise and experiences of scholars of critical language studies, we will study approaches to culture, race, gender, sexuality, and sexual identities in Japanese language education. Finally, we will meet to discuss strategies taken by colleagues in language and literature classes and seek their advice as we work together to create a set of literary texts aimed at intermediate to advanced language teaching.

The seminar is designed to support students who may teach Japanese language in the future and is open to anyone with an interest in Japanese literature, language, and pedagogy. Participants are welcome to enroll, audit, or simply stop by for sessions of interest and discussions with our guests.

By the end of this course participants will:
• Be familiar with a spectrum of approaches to teaching language through literature
• Have improved their understanding of critical language studies and gained a grasp of applied linguistics strategies and terminology related to teaching Japanese language and literature
• Feel ready to create teaching materials based on critical language pedagogy approaches
• Have prepared one literary text for language teaching as a form of public scholarship


ASIA 533A (011) – Seminar in Modern Japanese Literature [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Sharalyn Orbaugh

Term 1, Date and Time: Wednesdays 5:00pm-7:00pm


This year the seminar topic will be WWII-era literature and film (from around 1935 to around 1952), with attention to depictions of friend vs. enemy, naichi vs. gaichi, the racializing of non-Japanese “others,” and gendered expectations vis-à-vis the national emergency in a variety of both high-culture and popular culture media (novels, popular magazine stories, manga, propaganda films, etc.). All primary texts will be in Japanese; critical and theory works will be in either Japanese or English. Class discussion will be primarily in English.


ASIA 570B (033) – Film Theory and Japanese Cinema [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Colleen Laird

Term 1, Wednesday, 2:00pm – 5:00pm

This graduate seminar serves as an introduction to both Japanese cinema studies and foundational film theory. Participants will engage with primary theoretical texts including essays by filmmakers and critics in Japanese, excerpts from monographs that have historically shaped the field of Japanese cinema studies, scholarship that demonstrates close readings of Japanese films, and the practice of formal sequence analysis. To understand the global context of Japanese cinema throughout motion picture history, participants will be required to watch both Japanese films and films from other national cinemas. Students should be prepared to watch several films per week in addition to time allocated for readings. Although all non-English, non-Japanese language films will have English subtitles, some Japanese language films do not. Graduate students interested in the course who do not have Japanese language reading/aural comprehension skills are welcome but should consult with the instructor at the beginning of the term for reading and viewing alternatives.


ASIA 532B (009) or ASIA 570B (709) – Topics in Japanese Cultural History II: The Early Modern Age – TPCS JAPN CLT II [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Joshua Mostow

Term 2, Date and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30pm-5:00pm
Undergraduate Course: ASIA 346A 001

Yōkai in early modern Japanese culture


ASIA 532B (021) – Japanese Travel Literature [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Christina Laffin

Term 2, Wednesdays, 3:00pm-6:00pm

Undergraduate Course: ASIA 453

Japanese travel literature (myths, legends, poetry, tales, diaries, illustrated guides, satiric sermons, haiku, comic fiction, colonial reporting, and ethnography) from the 8th century to present.


ASIA 533A (006) – Topics in Modern Japanese Literature [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Christina Yi

Term 2, Date and Time: TBA

This seminar will explore the effects of (post)colonialism in Asia through close reading and critical discussion of selected Japanese-language literary and critical texts. It will also include a translation component, where we will consider the practice and theory of translation in a postcolonial context. Particularly attention will therefore be given to the trans-lingual and cross-cultural formation of literary genres, languages, and racialized identities; the creation of a transnational network of media and literary communities centered in East Asia; and shifting definitions of “Japan” / “Japanese” from Meiji through Showa.


ASIA 533A (036) – Japanese Documentary Media [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Ayaka Yoshimizu

Term 2, Thursdays, 3:30-7:30pm, Undergraduate Course: ASIA 463

Classroom: Biological Science 2020In this course, students will examine Japanese documentary media, with a focus on films but also including press, photography, reality TV shows, and social media. Through examples selected from the Meiji era through the present, students will learn important roles that these media have played as catalysts for democracy in Japan, investigating current socio-political issues, shedding light on overlooked issues and experiences, interrogating authorities, creating a forum for public debate, and exploring new forms of cultural expressions. Students will also explore the constructed nature of documentary texts, examining their aesthetic and creative aspects, and discuss the ways in which they make the viewers critically engage the texts. Throughout the term, the course will also offer students foundational theories of documentaries to critically approach the course materials. Given that documentaries, or “non-fictions,” are generally trusted by their audience as “authentic” representations of the reality, class discussion will include ethical questions of how Japanese documentaries have engaged both their subjects and audiences in unique ways, differently than their fictional counterparts.


ASIA 521A (009)– Research Methods and Source Materials in Japanese Studies [3.0 credits]

Instructor: Dr. Joshua Mostow and Ms. Tomoko Kitayama Yen

Term 2,  Fridays, 3:00pm-5:00pm

Course Description:
The aims of this course are to
1. familiarize ourselves with existing resources useful for research in Japanese studies through exercises and presentations/demonstrations using various reference works, tools, and databases
2. test new means of conveying knowledge by producing entries, articles, and metadata for existing resources
3. create a record of relevant resources for a research project of interest to the participant



ASIA 582A (008) – History and Structure of the Korean Language [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Ross King

Term 1, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30pm-5:00pm, Undergraduate Course: KORN 420

The purpose of the course is to learn the basics of Middle Korean, the language recorded in the earliest hangul records from the 15th century shortly after the alphabet was invented. The text we use is the 삼강행실도 (三綱行實圖, Illustrated Conduct of the Three Bonds). This was an illustrated Neo-Confucian ethics primer that continued to be used and reprinted for the next 500 years in Choson and therefore offers many insights into historical changes in the Korean language.



South Asia

ASIA 546A (028) – Contemporary South Asian Gender and Sexuality Studies [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Sunera Thobani

Term 1, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00-12:30pm, Undergraduate Course: ASIA 333

Main theories and key concepts with a particular focus on the changing status of women, and gender and sexual minorities.


ASIA 546A (023) – Topics in South Asian Literature [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Adheesh Sathaye

Term 1 & 2, Date and Time:  Please contact course instructor for details.

This seminar offers advanced readings in classical Sanskrit texts, featuring selections of story literature, poetry, drama, and scientific/theoretical traditions.


ASIA 570A (028) – Representations of Muslims in Hindi/Urdu Films [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Sunera Thobani

Term 1, Thursdays, 2:00-3:30pm, Undergraduate Course: ASIA 433

Depictions of Muslims in relation to the majoritarian community as well as other minorities in South Asian cinema, with a particular focus on the Hindi/Urdu film industry.


ASIA 580A (023) – Directed Readings [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Adheesh Sathaye

Term 1, Date and Time: Please contact course instructor for details.


ASIA 547 (028) – Life Writings of South Asian Diasporic Women [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Sunera Thobani

Term 2, Tuesdays, 11:00am-12:30pm, Undergraduate Course: ASIA 389

Auto/biographies and life writings of South Asian women in the Diaspora. Emphasizes theories of representation, subjectivity, agency, difference, and memory.


ASIA 576B (028) – Films of the South Asian Diaspora [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Sunera Thobani

Term 2, Thursdays, 2:00pm-3:00pm, Undergraduate Course: ASIA 399

Contemporary films of the South Asian Diaspora, with a focus on Canada, US, and UK. Emphasizes theories of representation, visual and cultural analysis.


ASIA 580A (028) – Gender, Conflict and Human Rights [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Sunera Thobani

Term 2, Tuesdays, 4:00-5:30pm

Course Description
This interdisciplinary course introduces students to key theories and concepts related to the fraught relation between gender and human rights in conflict situations in South Asia. Beginning with a brief overview of postcolonial, subaltern studies and feminist approaches to gender, nation and state, we will study how violence structures these formations as well as the relations among them. We will also critically engage the concept of Human Rights to examine how this functions in particular contexts to reorder relations between and among women, gender and sexual minorities; citizens and migrants; religious communities; and majorities and minorities. Students will have the opportunity to focus their learning on specific ‘human rights’ issues, such as sexual violence; trafficking; development and poverty; communalism and religious persecution; war, occupation and national liberation; caste and ethnic violence, etc. This course is designed to give students a grounding in contemporary debates in the field of gender and human rights while allowing them to tailor the course assignments to their own research interests.



Theories, Methods & Pan-Regional

ASIA 521A (007) – Research Methods and Source Materials in Japanese Studies [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Nam-lin Hur

Term 1, Wednesdays, 3:00pm – 6:00pm

During the semester we will read a select set of early modern Japanese documents in their original forms. In each week we will closely read two original 「候文」文書釈文and 読み下し「候文」documents for the study of early modern Japan.


ASIA 561A (010) – Asian Empires, Colonialism and Nationalism
Instructor: Dr. Harjot Oberoi

Term 1, Mondays, 4:00pm-6:30pm

For most of human history societies around the world were organized under the auspices of empires. However, when we think of empires we commonly think only of European empires, in particular Roman, Spanish and British. Theoretical rigour would tell us that this is a Eurocentric way of framing world history. In the spirit of comparative analysis and interdisciplinary orientations we must think about Asian empires, particularly Qing, Mughal and Ottoman. In the first part of this course we begin with a conceptual conversation focusing on Asian empires and what we can learn about such themes as political order, sovereignty, representation, culture, ethnicity, innovation and borders under Asian systems of governance. The second part of the course looks at what went “wrong” with Asian empires and why the colonial project succeeded. European colonialism in Asia produced a powerful response in the form of anti-colonial struggles and massive cultural transformations. In the final part of the course we examine what sort of individuals led these struggles as it is increasingly becoming evident that the sharp polarity between the coloniser and the colonized is not the only story. Post-colonial theorists like Homi Bhaba speak of “mimetic subjects” and Spivak of “domesticated selves.” How helpful are these categories for those interested in cultural analysis and social history? Or do we need to go back to classical theorists like Franz Fanon who thought in terms of autonomous historical agents at the forefront of revolutionary change and racial justice. In discussing all these themes students will be encouraged to think comparatively, beyond the established canon and reflect on the central importance of Asia in global history.

NOTE: This seminar counts for the pan-Asian theory course requirement for Asian Studies PhD students.


ASIA 570A (034) – Approaches to Asian Literature [3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Kay Duffy

Term 1, Wednesdays, 3:00pm-6:00pm

This seminar focuses on approaches to and scholarship on a particular theme in Asian Literature. Students will read and critique theoretical works and secondary literature related to the course theme, and they will also consider how to bring these approaches to bear on literary works in their respective subfields. In 2020, this course will focus on festivals and festivity in literature. How do we approach literature composed on (or for) particular festive occasions, and how do we understand the occasions themselves? What is it that we think we are reading, when we encounter seasonal festivals in Koryŏ songs, the Hina matsuri in the Tale of Genji, the Lantern Festival in The Plum in the Gold Vase, or the Indradhvaja festival in the Ramayana? In this seminar, we will read descriptions and depictions of festivals in major literary works alongside foundational theoretical texts on ritual, festivity, and play. In doing so, we will consider the relationship between high culture and communal celebration, and between a moment and the text that commemorates it. The course will also entail an examination of the promises and perils of interdisciplinary research. Each student will present on a festive occasion of their own choosing, and will be responsible for presenting an analysis of a primary source, informed by the assigned theoretical readings, as well as a critique of a related work of secondary literature.

NOTE: This seminar counts for the pan-Asian theory course requirement for Asian Studies PhD students


ASIA 561B (031) – Popular Cultures in Asia: Theories, Methods, and Approaches
Instructor: Dr. Hyung-Gu Lynn

Term 2, Dates and Time: Mondays 4:00pm-7:00pm

This graduate seminar will cover various approaches to the analysis of popular culture in Asia. It will be composed of three segments: (1) theoretical and comparative readings; (2) readings focused on specific cases in Asia (mainly in modern and contemporary periods covering South, Southeast, and East Asia); and (3) readings and research for one final paper, for which there will be on presentation. The format will be discussion based.

NOTE: This seminar counts for the pan-Asian theory course requirement for Asian Studies PhD students.


ASIA 592 (011) – The Profession of Asian Studies [ 3.0 credits]
Instructor: Dr. Sharalyn Orbaugh

Term 2, Wednesdays, 5:00pm-8:00pm

Introduction to essential skills for academic and professional work in Asian Studies. Outlines career trajectories in the PhD and beyond, including grant applications, cv-writing, and job searches. Required of Asian Studies PhD students, normally in their first year.





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