Spring 2015

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ASNS 1175. China’s Path to Modernity: 1800 to Present.
Introduction to modern and contemporary Chinese history. Covers the period from the nineteenth century, when imperial China encountered the greatest national crisis in its contact with the industrial West, to the present People’s Republic of China. Provides historical depth to an understanding of the multiple meanings of Chinese modernity. Major topics include: democratic and socialist revolutions; assimilation of Western knowledge and thought; war; imperialism; and the origin, development, and unraveling of Communist rule. Not open to students with credit in Asian Studies 2012 or History 2322.
ASNS 2060. Contemporary Chinese Politics.
Examines the history and politics of China in the context of a prolonged revolution. Begins by examining the end of imperial rule, the development of Modern China, socialist transformations and the establishment of the PRC. After a survey of the political system as established in the 1950s and patterns of politics emerging from it, the analytic focus turns to political change in the reform era (since 1979) and the forces driving it. The adaptation by the Communist Party to these changes and the prospects of democratization are also examined. Topics include political participation and civil society, urban and rural China, gender in China, and the affects of post-Mao economic reform
ASNS 2073. Chinese Women in Fiction and Film.
Approaches the subject of women and writing in twentieth- and early twenty-first-century China from perspectives of gender studies, literary analysis, and visual representations. Considers women writers, filmmakers, and their works in the context of China’s social-political history as well as its literary and visual traditions. Focuses on how women writers and directors negotiate gender identity against social-cultural norms. Also constructs a dialogue between Chinese women’s works and Western feminist assumptions. Note: Fulfills the non-US cinema requirement for Cinema Studies minors.
ASNS 2075. Ecocinema: China's Ecological and Environmental Crisis.
Examines how China’s economic development has caused massive destruction to the natural world and how environmental degradation affects the lives of ordinary people. An ecological and environmental catastrophe unfolds through the camera lens in feature films and documentaries. Central topics include the interactions between urbanization and migration, humans and animals, eco-aesthetics and manufactured landscapes, local communities and globalization. Considers how cinema, as mass media and visual medium, provides ecocritical perspectives that influence ways of seeing the built environment. The connections between cinema and environmental studies will enable students to explore across disciplinary as well as national boundaries. Note: Fulfills the film theory requirement for Cinema Studies minors.
ASNS 2201. From Mao to Now: Contemporary Chinese Art.
Examines the history of contemporary Chinese art and cultural production from Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) until today. Traces experiments in oil, ink, performance, installation, video, and photography and considers these media and formats as artistic responses to globalization, capitalist reform, urbanization, and commercialization. Tracks themes such as art and consumerism, national identity, global hierarchies, and political critique. Readings include primary sources such as artist’s statements, manifestoes, art criticism, and curatorial essays. Not open to students who have credit for Art History 320 or Asian Studies 311.
ASNS 2271. Samurai in History, Literature, and Film.
An examination of representations of samurai in historical, literary, and filmic texts from the twelfth to the twentieth century. Topics include the changing understanding of “the way of the warrior,” the influence of warrior culture on the arts in medieval Japan and the modern appropriation of the martial arts. Analyzes the romanticization of samurai ethos in wartime writings and the nostalgic longing for a heroic past in contemporary films. Focus on the reimagining of the samurai as a cultural icon throughout Japanese history and the relationship of these discourses to gender, class, and nationalism. Readings include the Tale of the Heike, Legends of the Samurai, Hagakure and Bushido: The Soul of Japan. Films may include Genroku Chushingura, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and the animation series Samurai 7.
ASNS 2400. Japan's Pacific Wars.
Seminar. Examines the history, presentation, and memory of Japan’s twentieth century wars in the Pacific in order to contemplate how Japan’s past and present has been shaped by war. Discussions focus on themes of state-formation and empire-building, tensions between tradition and modernity, cosmopolitanism and militarism, expansion and the quest for economic independence, battlefield conduct, race and propaganda, life on the homefront, defeat and occupation, postwar economic revival, and contemporary diplomatic issues and accusations of resurgent militarism. Students produce a term paper on a topic of their choosing.
ASNS 2401. Architecture and Power in Japanese History.
Examines how the built environment was deployed as an instrument of power throughout Japanese history. Focuses on four important historical urban settlements—Makimuku, Nara, Osaka, and Tokyo—to chart how cities and architecture were used to project power. Major emphasis on how Japanese urbanism and architecture was shaped by interactions with outside influences. Assigned literary readings and films draw on the urban experience, considering the experience of city life in Japan.
ASNS 2550. Religion and Fiction in Modern South Asia.
Explains the nexus between religion and society in modern South Asia proffered via the prism of South Asian literature in English. Confined to prose fiction, considering its tendency to attempt approximations of reality. Interrogates how ideas of religion and ideas about religion manifest themselves in literature and affect understanding of south Asian religions among its readership. Does not direct students to seek ‘authentic’ insights into orthodox or doctrinal religion in the literary texts but to explore the tensions between “textual” religion and everyday “lived reality” in South Asia.
ASNS 2582. Politics and Popular Culture in Modern India.
Examines the new forms of politics and of popular culture that have shaped modernity in India. Topics include the emergence of mass politics, urbanization, modern visual culture, new media technologies, and contemporary media and democracy.
ASNS 2584. From Gandhi to the Taliban: Secularism and Its Critics in Modern South Asia.
Seminar. Explores modern social and political movements that have sought to redefine the relationship between religion and the state. Focusing on India and Pakistan, questions considered include: What is secularism? How have modern states sought to define their relationship with “religion?” Why and how have various political movements rejected the idea of secularism? What historical effects have these diverse movements had? Students write a research paper utilizing primary and secondary sources.
ASNS 2700. Women in South Asia: Images and Experiences.
South Asia undoubtedly presents a paradox with regard to women’s status with its veneration of Devi [Goddess] and ‘Mother’ and endorsement of strong political women, on the one hand, and spectacular, headline-grabbing violence against women on the other. What are the factors that give rise to this seeming paradox? Drawing on a variety of sources, literary and non-literary (from literary and analytical pieces to field reports, documentaries, interviews, personal narratives and oral testimonies), the course introduces students to the forces—cultural and material—that shape women’s life-experiences in South Asia.
ASNS 2830. Topics on Asian Economies.
A study of the similarities and differences in growth experience and the level of economic output per person in Asian countries. Explores possible causes of differences in economic paths, with a focus on several important economies, including China and Japan. Also discusses the relationship between the Asian economies and the United States economy.
ASNS 2870. Asian Cities and Globalization.
Introduces the concept and phenomenon of globalization and its relationship to the global city. Examines how historical, social, cultural, and political change takes shape in Asian cities, along with their importance as spaces of global information and capital and technological linkages. Studies how cities are created and imagined in public and official discourse. Readings draw from political science, but also cover urban studies, global studies, anthropology, sociology, geography, and cultural studies. Topics include migration and immigration, development, gentrification, the environment, civil society and popular protests, and labor.
ASNS 3100. Revolutionary China.
China’s twentieth-century destiny boils down to one word: revolution. Through analysis of historical and literary sources, provides insight into the turbulent course China has followed: from imperial monarchy to republic, from bureaucratic capitalism to command economy, from Communism to Socialism with "Chinese characteristics." Focal topics vary from year to year and each time include one or two of the following revolutions: the Revolution of 1911 (the overthrow of the last imperial dynasty), the intellectual awakening of May Fourth, the Communist Revolution in 1949, the Cultural Revolution under Mao, and the most recent capitalist reforms. Each student writes an original research paper.
ASNS 3810. How to Imagine East Asian Modernisms.
From China’s defeat in the Opium Wars to the opening up of Japan in 1868, the nineteenth century launched critical debates in East Asia over how to become modern. Rising up against dominant Western powers, some proposed a pan-Asian entity under the slogan “Asia is One.” Within a few decades, however, this devolved into disparate political realities for colonizers (Japan), the colonized (Korea and Taiwan), and the semi-colonized (China). This course analyzes how art was mobilized during this chaotic 150-year period to assert radically different political agendas. Questions include: why did abstraction spread across East Asia? How did artists use canvases, bodies, and photographs to register the trauma of war and the promises of utopia? Movements and styles such as the Japanese Gutai Group and Superflat will be studied.