ASIA 300-Level Courses

Listed below are short descriptions of our 2019 Winter Session courses. The instructor will post the actual course syllabi for registered students shortly before term begins or distribute them on the first day of class. View the full course schedule here.

Term 1
Tue Thu, 12:30 - 14:00

Course description:

Writing plays an important role in East Asian societies. In this course, writing is both regarded as a product in the form of Chinese characters and scripts, and also as processes involving a series of dynamic movements. Chinese characters were invented over 3,000 years ago, which attains not only practical and referential functions of recording and delivering information (as a way of communication), but also non-referential functions in politics, arts, religion, science and technology, and many more. This course will examine writing and the nexus surrounding writing in different societies with diverse purposes and formats. To be specific, we will examine the origins of writing and its adaptations in new social settings, the discourse around writing—how writing is incorporated into political agenda and social hierarchies, and how writing works together with artist creations and individuals’ embodied experience in societies.

Term 2
Wed, 16:00 - 19:00

Course description:

Term 2
Mon, 15:00 - 18:00

Course description:

Term 2
Tue Thu, 12:30 - 14:00

Course description:

Term 1
Tue Thu, 15:30 - 17:00

Course description:

Term 2
Tue Thu, 14:00 - 15:30

Course description:

001
Term 1
Tue Thu, 9:30 - 11:00

Course description:

“Every valley has its dialect - each Guru their Buddhist teaching.” (Tibetan proverb)

What is a Guru? Why meditate in caves? How to determine an incarnation? This course introduces into Tibet’s religious and political history and the formation of Tibetan Buddhism since the 7th century. In particular, we will focus on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, meditative practices and rituals as well as ethics in the four main Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Special topics include the globalization of Tibetan Buddhism and gender. Students will gain insight into the rich religious landscape of the Tibetan cultural area in past and present and will be introduced to key terms of Tibetan Buddhism. Besides scholarly literature, we will engage with film and other visual representations of Tibetan material religious culture, such as arts and architecture.

002
Term 2
Tue Thu, 15:30 - 17:00

Term 2
Tue Thu, 15:30 - 17:00

Course description:

A look at the history of Buddhism in Korea, focusing on its role in the global Buddhist community as well as the distinctive features of the Korean approach to Buddhism. Course readings will include English translations of essays by Korean Buddhist monks and nuns from the 7th century to today.

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 10:00 - 11:00

Course description:

Term 1
Mon Wed Fri, 13:00 - 14:00

Course description:

Term 2
Tue Thur, 8:00 - 9:30

Course description:

Term 1
Mon Wed Fri, 14:00 - 15:00

Course description:

A survey of the evolution of Korean culture from the stone age to the 16th century. Emphasis will be placed on how the men and women of the Korean peninsula created and preserved a distinctive cultural and political identity.

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 9:00 - 10:00

Course description:

Term 1
Wed, 16:00 - 19:00

Course description:

This course traces the evolution and transformation of the multi-faceted Cantonese worlds, both in the context of the history of China and that of the Cantonese diaspora. The goal is to help students understand the worlds forged by those who have come to be identified as “Cantonese” and how such worlds have intersected or overlapped with other political, commercial, or cultural realms. This course traces the construction of “Cantonese” as a category or identity and examines how Cantonese languages, beliefs, and practices—in short, culture—could broaden or challenge our understanding of “Chinese-ness.” Our geographic focus will be on the Cantonese worlds of present-day South China, but attention will also be given to the Cantonese communities in the greater Pacific region.

001
Term 1
Tue, 16:00 - 19:00
Thu, 16: 00 - 17:00

Course description:

This course surveys various cultural aspects of Hong Kong Cinema, including the unique urban space, violence, gender, nostalgia, immigration, and identity, all of which make Hong Kong cinema distinctive. This course will situate Hong Kong cinema in historical contexts and examine filmic languages, directors, genres, the star system, reception and audiences, and global influence. This course provides a series of Hong Kong cinema as a way to answer the questions: What is Hong Kong cinema? What is the identity of Hong Kong cinema that is different from Chinese cinema or Taiwanese cinema? How did directors, studios, stars, producers, and audiences collectively make the unique characteristics of Hong Kong cinema?

002
Term 2
Wed, 16:00 - 20:00

001
Term 1
Tue Thu, 11:00 - 12:30

Course description:

002
Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 12:00 - 13:00

Term 1
Mon Wed Fri, 10:00 - 11:00

Course description:

Term 1
Tue Thu, 15:30 - 17:00

Course description:

Term 1
Tue Thu, 11:00 - 12:30

Course description:

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of South Asian Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. A key aspect of colonial governance was the construction of South Asia and its heterogeneous populations as gendered in ‘traditional’ ways. We will explore how this construction has shaped contemporary feminist and queer engagements with post/coloniality, citizenship, development, neo-liberalism and violence in South Asia. We will also use the concept of ‘intersectionality’ to problematize the feminist conflation of ‘woman’ with 'gender', and to explore the constitutive relation of gender to class, caste, race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion.

Term 2
Tue Thu, 14:00 - 15:30

Course description:

Term 1
Tue, 15:30 - 18:30

Course description:

This course explores the history of China from the disintegration of the Tang empire at the turn of the tenth century to the eve of the country's modern transformation. Its goals are to help students develop the language and tools to understand the political, socio-economic, and cultural changes in later imperial China and to initiate them to the art and techniques of historical analysis. This course challenges the stereotype of a monolithic and static China and encourages students to develop a critical understanding of the internal and external forces integrating and dividing this geo-cultural unit.

Term 2
Tue Thu, 11:30 - 12:00

Course description:

In 2019 W this course will be devoted to the study of The Tale of Genji (ca. 1008), Japan’s greatest work of narrative fiction and called by some the world’s first psychological novel. The entire text will be read over the course of the term, though students are allowed to read it translated into the language of their choice (English, modern Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German or Russian—or the original classical Japanese!). This year, particular attention will be paid to illustrations to the Tale and how they serve as interpretations of the text. Examples will include traditional court painting (yamato-e), early modern woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), as well as cinema, manga, and anime.

Term 2
Mon Wed, 8:00 - 10:00

Course description:

002
Term 2
Tue Thu, 12:30 - 2:00

Course description:

The pursuit of the “modern” has always been the core concern in China since the late Qing period, and the genre of fiction was adopted as an imported literary tool in achieving national modernity. This course provides a survey of modern Chinese fiction from the May Fourth period to the contemporary era and examines the experience of the modern through political, social and cultural changes in fiction. Though loosely following a historical chronology, this course selects recurrent themes and patterns in modern Chinese fiction to look at different facets of the Chinese society. Literature, fiction to be specific, is an important mediator in voicing experiences, affective feelings, and imagination in sociopolitical scenarios. This course aims to provide an alternative history that goes beyond the official narrative of Chinese historical and political discourse.

Term 1
Mon, 15:00 - 18:00
Wed, 15:00 - 16:00

Course description:

The Hindi films, commonly known as “Bollywood” is one of the most prominent and biggest film industries not only in India but also in the world. In India and South Asia in general, films have always been major source of entertainment. Along with the main aim of giving pleasure to moviegoers, the Hindi films have always played a vital role in shaping the South Asian society.

This introductory course offers an overview of Hindi film history through different time periods and different themes and patterns that prevailed in those periods. A representative collection of films will be screened and later taken for discussion in the class. The chronological screening of the films is based on themes, personalities and genres to represent different eras of the Hindi film history. Along with the films the students are required to read select articles on weekly themes. All the readings are in English and the films will have English subtitles, no knowledge of Hindi is required for the course.

Term 2
Thu, 15:30 - 19:30

Course description:

This course introduces Japanese films from the 1920s to the present, including an early silent film, “canonical works” by directors of the “golden age” of the 1950s, a politically conscious New Wave films of the 60s, a commercially successful series, “hybrid” and “international” films from the late 20th century, images of the postcolonial, multicultural reality of Japan, and women’s film of the 21st century. We will focus on contemporary dramas and examine how these films grapple with artistic, social, political, economic, cultural and/or other issues of their time and place.

No background in film or Japanese studies is required. All films have English subtitles. Lectures and readings will present relevant scholarly perspectives to help you engage with these films in a critical way. We also hope that you will bring your own backgrounds and expertise to this course and welcome different/alternative interpretations.

Term 2
002
Tue, 17:00 - 20:00
Thu, 17:00 - 18:00

003
Mon, 16:00 - 19:00
Wed, 16:00 - 17:00

Course description:

This course aims to illustrate rich facets of Chinese society through cinema. Chinese cinema, as one important media genre, provides a prism to explore China’s culture, social values, and history. This course will explore important films in the Chinese film industry and situate the discussion in socio-political and historical contexts. We will examine not only the cultural elements reflected within films, its contents, filmic languages, and themes, but also outside the films, the politics around film production and reception in certain historical and political scenarios.

Term 2
Wed, 16:00 - 19:00
Fri, 16:00 - 17:00

Course description:.

This introductory course aims to better understand Korean society and culture through the lens of current Korean films. Students will be introduced to a variety of Korean films pertaining to major historical and sociopolitical affairs, such as the Korean War, military dictatorship, gender roles, multiculturalism, and others. While critically engaging in the cinematic representations of the issues through group discussions, students will be given an opportunity to (1) understand the global and social forces that contributed to constructing contemporary Korean culture and society, (2) critically view the roles of cultural productions such as films in (re)shaping and changing the ways in which Korean people think about the issues, and (3) articulate their own interpretations and arguments on Korean films verbally and in written form.

Term 2
001
Mon Wed Fri, 14:00 - 15:00

002
Mon Wed Fri, 10:00 - 11:00

Course description:

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 14:00 - 15:00

Course description:

Term 2
Tue, 14:00 - 17:00
Thu 14:00 - 15:00

Course description:

This class explores the history and culture of post-partition Punjab (primarily focusing on Indian Punjab), through film. We will explore the green revolution, gender issues, caste hierarchy, social and religious change and movements, and the dynamic exchange between Indian Punjab and the Punjabi Diaspora. The class includes film viewings and seminar discussions. Films will be screened with English subtitles.

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 12:00 - 13:00

Course description:

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 11:00 - 12:00

Course description:

Term 2
Mon, 16:00 - 19:00

Course description:

This course explores the history, culture, and identities of Hong Kong from the port's pre-colonial settings in the early nineteenth century to its post-colonial contexts. Its goals are to help students develop the language and tools to understand the metamorphoses of this most unusual metropolis as well as to further their skills in historical analysis. This course encourages students to critically consider Hong Kong's multifaceted identities as well as to take into account the local, national, and transnational (not to mention international) contexts of its spectacular transformations.

Term 2
Thu, 17:00 - 21:00

Course description:

Global Chinese cinema is a fluid concept in constant formation. In this course, we will watch cinemas that can be categorized as global Chinese cinema in order to answer the question what global Chinese cinema is. We will watch and discuss Chinese cinemas in a global perspective, covering films produced in China and received global attention and international engagement, as well as films made overseas with a cultural focus on China, or the imagined “Chineseness.” Covering both cinematic culture and filmmaking technique, the purpose of the course is to revisit the significance of transnational dimension as a theoretical framework to rethink Chinese cinema, which challenges the boundary constructed around nation, language, and culture in a globalized era.

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 13:00 - 14:00

Course description:

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 12:00 - 13:00

Course description:

Term 1
Mon Wed Fri, 12:00 - 13:00

Course description:

One of the most sophisticated texts of world philosophy, the Zhuangzi is a compendium of different but related works that has exerted tremendous influence on the philosophical, religious, artistic, and literary traditions of East Asia. Written in a volatile and dangerous age, the Zhuangzi explores how one can live a meaningful life of cultivated sensitivity and empathy in a world whose dangers are exacerbated, but also solved, by those very traits.

This course will examine the Zhuangzi in its entirety, surveying its themes, arguments, and the tensions that exist between its component parts. It will also explore its reception and influence in later periods of history. Although the class will discuss the full variety of the text’s themes, it will focus on the Zhuangzi’s relevance for the modern age and how its thought can change and enrich both daily life and the world at large.

Term 1
Tue Thu, 11:00 - 12:30

Course description:

ASIA386 is the first of a two-part comprehensive grammar course which provides an in-depth examination of modern Chinese grammar and its usage, including word formation, syntactic constructions, discourse cohesions, semantics, and stylistic considerations. A functional approach is taken to link form and function, structure and usage in relation to social and cultural contexts and implications. This systematic and rigorous survey of the nature of Standard Chinese language structure aims to enhance students’ understanding of Chinese grammar and learn how and where it differs from the grammars of other languages, such as English. This course is aimed at all students with an interest in the Chinese Language, including those whose primary interest may be in Chinese language education, classical Chinese or Chinese literature, Chinese translation and interpretation, and Chinese journalism.

Term 2
Mon Wed Fri, 10:00 - 11:00

Course description:

Term 2
Tue Thu, 11:00 - 12:30

Course description:

This interdisciplinary course studies what diasporic South Asian women's auto/biographical and other life-writings contribute to our understanding of constructions of the self; gendered, classed and racialized social life; memory and agency; and the poetics and politics of migration.
Students will be introduced to key issues in the study of women's auto/biographies as we ask what it means to be 'diasporic', 'South Asian' and 'woman'. We will also draw on South Asian Diaspora and Migration Studies, and theories of representation, subjectivity and difference to learn about the complexities of SA women's lived experience as narrated through their own personal and political accounts.

Term 2
Thu, 15:30 - 18:30

Course description:

This course will familiarize you with modern Persian literature (in English translation) in Iran. You will also have a chance to conduct a small-scale, guided scholarly research project on the modern literature(s) of Iran, Afghanistan, and/or Tajikistan. The course is arranged thematically around readings from modern Persian literature in Iran from the mid-nineteenth to the twenty-first century. The readings include instances of representative short stories, novels, poems, plays, memoirs, and film adaptations. The themes include modernity; satire and self-ridicule; racialism; the West; diversity (gender, sexuality, class, etc.); the Iran-Iraq war; the environment; and the Iranian diaspora. While due to its limited scope, the course focuses on the case of modern Persian literature from Iran, for their major research projects, students are strongly encouraged and guided to conduct research on texts of their own choosing from the modern Persian or non-Persian (diasporic) literatures of Iran, Afghanistan, and/or Tajikistan.

Term 2
Tue Thu, 11:00 - 12:30

Course description:

ASIA 396 is the continuation of ASIA 386, the second part of a comprehensive grammar course which provides an in-depth examination of modern Chinese grammar and its usage, including word formation, syntactic constructions, discourse cohesions, semantics, and stylistic considerations. A functional approach is taken to link form and function, structure and usage in relation to social and cultural contexts and implications. This systematic and rigorous survey of the nature of Standard Chinese language structure aims to enhance students’ understanding of Chinese grammar and learn how and where it differs from the grammars of other languages, such as English. This course is addressed to all students with an interest in the Chinese Language, including those whose primary interest may be in Chinese language education, classical Chinese or Chinese literature, Chinese translation and interpretation, and Chinese journalism.

Term 2
Mon, 15:00 - 18:00
Tue, 15:00 - 16:00

Course description:

What do the films East is East and Loins of Punjab have in common? How do representations of South Asian diasporic life in the UK differ from those of SA communities in the US and Canada? This course introduces students to films of the South Asian diaspora, it aims to enhance students' understanding of key concepts and issues in South Asian Diaspora Studies, Cultural Studies and SA Film and Media Studies. Exploring the themes of belonging, home, transnationalism and multiculturalism, the course is organized around weekly film screenings (in English), lectures, critical readings, and large and small group discussion.