ASIA 400-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 2
Tue, 15:30 - 183:0

Course description:

This course presents an introduction to the history of language, writing and linguistic thought in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam from a comparative perspective, and focuses on the dissolution of this translocal cultural formation with the onset of modernity. The course examines questions of the history of language and (especially) writing in the Sinographic Sphere, with a special focus on Japan and Korea and the role of Chinese writing in these countries. Other topics included are the ‘cosmopolitan and vernacular’ and the notion of a ‘Sinographic Cosmopolis’, the ‘ideographic myth’ in the study of Chinese writing, the role of glossing and commentary in vernacularization in East Asia, the problem of translation in the Sinographic Sphere, ideologies of language and writing in Japanese and Korean antiquity and modernity, the debates surrounding Chinese characters and Literary Sinitic with the onset of modernity in Japan and Korea, and questions of language-writing, colonialism and (colonial) modernity in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. We will also explore the interface between the Latin and Sinographic Cosmopoli through the mediation of scholar missionaries and other Western scholars and observers. Some previous exposure to Chinese, Japanese and/or Korean is assumed, but all readings are in English.

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

Course description:

This course examines the theory and practice of government in pre-modern China from the earliest emergence of the Chinese state to the 8th century CE when China witnessed the founding of one of its most celebrated dynasties, the Tang dynasty. Throughout we will discuss how political institutions developed against some classical political thought, how patterns of political action took form, and how the imperial system was structured at both the center and local levels as well as changes and continuities involved in the historical process.

We hope this course will help students to acquire knowledge of the unique historical path from which the traditional Chinese political thought and political institutions emerged/took root while also seeing how this knowledge is still relevant to the understanding of today’s China.

Term 1
Mon, 14:00 - 17:00
Tue, 14:00 - 15:00

Course description:

The indigenization of film in South Asia has made cinema indispensable to the formation of nation, identity, politics and culture in the region. This course focuses on representations of South Asian Muslims to study how popular films speak to the major political and social upheavals that have shaped the region in the post-independence period.

All films studied in the course will be screened in class, they all have English subtitles. Students will learn to define and apply key concepts in SA Film Studies; delineate, track and deconstruct iconic images of Muslims; and critically analyze how the cinematic 'Muslim' helps mediate the relation between nation and state, and between religion, gender and sexuality. Given the ubiquity of ‘Bollywood’ films in South Asia and beyond, this course draws mainly on popular Hindi/Urdu cinema.

Term 2
Wed, 16:00 - 19:00

Course description:

On the eve of their departure from the Indian subcontinent in 1947, the British Raj divided India into two sovereign states of Hindu majority India and Muslim majority Pakistan. This tragic event had torn apart communities and families on both sides of the newly formed border. The painful birth of two nations resulted in millions of displaced people and loss of innumerable lives.

The tragedy of Partition has inspired authors to depict on one hand the horrors of maddening violence and at the same time merciful compassion shown by the total stranger towards the unfortunate ones. The filmmakers have also applied their artistic expression to document and reflect the events of the Partition.

The course will offer the students a glimpse of the Partition of India through the eyes of writers and filmmakers. A representative collection of fictional writings on the Partition of India will be taken, discussed and analysed. All the readings will be in English and no knowledge of South Asian languages is required.

Term 2
Tue, 15:30 - 18:30

Course description:

The goal of this course is to help student understand and explore the dynamics of Chinese society in the late imperial period (esp. the Ming and Qing dynasties) through a close examination of how beliefs and practices—the stuff of culture—were created and transmitted. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussion and to carry out a major research assignment using (translated) primary sources. This course encourages students to think critically about the nature of "Chinese culture" and invites them to locate the Chinese historical experiences in a wider context.

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

Course description:

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

Course description:

How is crime defined? Who gets to decide? How do we know – how can we know – what constitutes the “truth”? In this research-intensive course, we will explore such questions through the genre of modern Japanese crime fiction. In Japan as in elsewhere in the world, the detective story in particular was a distinctly modern form of literature that let writers provocatively explore the relationship between truth and fiction, literature and society, the self and the other, and more. In this class we will consider the ways mystery, murder, and mayhem worked to expose the dangerous underbelly of the beast called modernity, paying special attention to the related issues of narrative form, urban space, and gendered/ethnic/class divisions.

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

Course description:

*Please note: If you do not find the course under ASIA 450A, it may already have shifted to ASIA 431 Tibetan Literature, Genres, and Book Culture

Why not be amazed about the beauty of mystic Buddhist songs written by great Tantric adepts about the nature of mind, steer through the complexity of philosophical treatises of great Tibetan Buddhist scholars, or read about the thrilling adventures of the glorious King Gesar in epic literature? In this course, we will discuss Tibetan literature and genres as well as aspects of material religious culture such as manuscripts and block prints. Students will have the opportunity to read and critically analyze Tibet’s key literary works in English translation and apply theories and methods from the field of literary and material culture studies. The focus this year will be on Tibetan Buddhist literature.

Term 2
Mon Wed, 12:30 - 14:00

Course description:

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

Course description:

This course explores major social, economic, political, and cultural changes and continuities in Taiwan from the seventeenth century to the present. Due to time constraints, specific emphasis will be placed on the post-World War II period where a “great transition” took place as Taiwan was transformed into a democratic polity.

In addition to offering students an analytical approach to history and a broad knowledge base concerning Taiwanese history and culture, we also hope to help stimulate further interest in studying Taiwan society, particularly the evolution and the relevance of its democracy, as well as its place in the contemporary world.

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

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

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Term 2
Wed, 15:00 - 18:00

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

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

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