Location: Bowdoin / Asian Studies / Courses

Asian Studies

Spring 2014

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ASNS 2005. Science, Technology, and Society in China.
Leah Zuo.

Seminar. Examines Chinese science, technology, and medicine in the cultural, intellectual, and social circumstances. The first part surveys a selection of main fields of study in traditional Chinese science and technology, nodal points of invention and discovery, and important conceptual themes. The second part tackles the clash between traditional Chinese natural studies and modern science from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Prominent themes include astronomy and court politics, printing technology and books, and the dissemination of Western natural science, among others. Reading materials reflect the interdisciplinary approach of this course and include secondary literature on cultural, intellectual history, ethnography, and the sociology of scientific knowledge.

ASNS 2010. The Emergence of Chinese Civilization.
Leah Zuo.

Introduction to ancient Chinese history (2000 BCE to 800 CE). Explores the origins and foundations of Chinese civilization. Prominent themes include the inception of the imperial system, the intellectual fluorescence in classical China, the introduction and assimilation of Buddhism, the development of Chinese cosmology, and the interactions between early China and neighboring regions. Class discussion of historical writings complemented with literary works and selected pieces of the visual arts. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

ASNS 2020. Power and Politics in Pre-modern Chinese Art.
Peggy Wang.

Introduces students to Chinese art from the First Emperor’s terracotta warriors in the third century BCE to the waning of the country’s dynastic history in the nineteenth century CE. Following a chronological sequence, explores key mortuary spaces, religious objects, court art, and landscape painting with emphasis on themes of power and politics. Emphasis is placed on understanding changing art formats and functions in relation to socio-cultural contexts, such as shifts in belief systems, foreign imperial patronage, and the rise of literati expression. Readings include primary sources such as ancestral rites, Buddhist doctrines, imperial proclamations, and Chinese painting treatises.

ASNS 2060. Contemporary Chinese Politics.
Christopher Heurlin.

Examines Chinese politics in the context of a prolonged revolution. 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. Topics include the political impact of decentralization and marketization, the reintegration into the capitalist world economy, and the development of the legal system. The adaptation by the Communist Party to these changes and the prospects of democratization are also examined.

ASNS 2071. Cultural Topics in Contemporary China.
Shu-chin Tsui.

Explores cultural trends in contemporary China with post-socialist condition as the contextual setting and cultural studies the theoretical framework. Discussion topics include rural-urban transformations, experimental art, alternative literature, documentary cinema, fashion codes, and gender issues. Examines how cultural trends reflect and react to China’s social-economic transitions, and how the state apparatus and the people participate in cultural production and consumption.

ASNS 2072. Topics in Chinese Cinema.
Shu-chin Tsui.

Introduces students to films produced in the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Places national cinema in a transnational framework and explores how cinema as a sign system constructs sociocultural and aesthetic meanings. Students will benefit most by bringing both an open mind toward non-Western cultural texts, and a critical eye for visual art.

ASNS 2270. The Fantastic and Demonic in Japanese Literature.
Vyjayanthi Selinger.

From possessing spirits and serpentine creatures to hungry ghosts and spectral visions, Japanese literary history is alive with supernatural beings. The focus of study ranges from the earliest times to modernity, examining these motifs in both historical and theoretical contexts. Readings pose the following broad questions: How do representations of the supernatural function in both creation myths of the ancient past and the rational narratives of the modern nation? What is the relationship between liminal beings and a society’s notion of purity? How may we understand the uncanny return of dead spirits in medieval Japanese drama? How does the construction of demonic female sexuality vary between medieval and modern Japan? Draws on various genres of representation, from legends and novels to drama, paintings, and cinema. Students develop an appreciation of the hold that creatures from the “other” side maintain over our cultural and social imagination.

ASNS 2552. Hindu Literatures.
John Holt and Sree Holt.

A reading and discussion of translated classical Hindu literature, including the Rg Veda, Upanishads, Yoga Sutra, the epics Ramayana, Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad Gita), Devi Mahatmya and the Cilapatikaram, etc. Focuses on development of various types of religious worldviews and religious experiences as reflected in classical Sanskrit and vernacular literature of India.

ASNS 2555. Religious Culture and Politics in Southeast Asia.
John Holt.

An examination of the ways in which changes in political economies and societies of Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have fostered changes in the predominantly Theravada Buddhist religious cultures of modern Southeast Asia. Focuses include how civil wars in Sri Lanka and Burma, revolutions in Laos and Cambodia, and the ideology of kingship in Thailand have elicited changes in the public practice of religion. Previous credit in Religion 2222 {222} (same as Asian Studies 2554 {242}) is highly recommended.

ASNS 2590. Islam in South Asia c. 700 to the Present.
Nishtha Singh.

Seminar: Focuses on Islam in South Asia—which is home to the largest number of Muslims anywhere in the world, and whose large Muslim population has always co-habited with a much larger non-Muslim population. Questions and themes include: the manner and extent of the expansion of Islam over the subcontinent (religion of conquest? mass conversions?); how “Islamic” was Muslim rule on the sub-continent; Islamic aesthetics and contributions to material culture; the multiple engagements and reactions of Muslims to British colonial rule; the politicization of religious identity under colonialism; the partition of British India into the nation states of India and Pakistan on grounds of religion; and the contemporary concerns and challenges of South Asia’s Muslims.

ASNS 2591. Gandhi and Non-Violent Politics.
Nishtha Singh.

Politics, almost by definition, is oppositional. It promotes an “us vs. them” mindset. However, Gandhi introduced a form of politics that was non-adversarial and based in dialogue. His non-violent form of politics was able to bring the masses into the political arena for the first time in South Asia, and to create one of the largest anti-colonial movements in the world. Analyzes Gandhian politics through questions such as: How did Gandhi’s deeply held personal views on non-violence impact his politics? What were the Gandhian techniques of mass mobilization? Can Gandhi’s own initiatives—what he himself said and did—adequately explain his vast popularity amongst the masses? What were the pitfalls of Gandhian politics? What groups felt alienated from them? How did people such as Martin Luther King Jr. adapt Gandhian ideas outside South Asia? Do Gandhian ideas have a place in our contemporary world?

ASNS 2806. New Fictions of Asian America.
Belinda Kong.

Surveys developments in Asian American literature since 2000, and asks how post-millennial fictions revise and extend the core concerns of earlier writing. If Asian American writers have long been preoccupied with questions of ethnic identity and national belonging, recent works tackle these themes within new contexts of transnationalism, the post-9/11 security state, and the global financial crisis. Considers the diverse functions of the contemporary Asian American novel—as autobiography and narrative of racial passing, as social satire and tragicomedy, and as cultural memory and multiracial national history.

ASNS 3051. Totalitarianism and Dissidence in Contemporary Chinese Literature.
Belinda Kong.

Seminar. Can “literature” be produced within a totalitarian regime where public expression is tightly controlled by the state? Or does political repression ironically foster creative means of literary circumvention? These are some central questions raised by the controversial awarding of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to Mo Yan. Focusing on contemporary China as a case study, explores the relation between aesthetics and politics via a range of writers, from establishment novelists to dissidents in exile to Internet activists. Authors may include Mo Yan, Su Tong, Yu Hua, Liu Xiaobo, Liao Yiwu, Yan Lianke, Ai Weiwei, and Han Han. Theoretical reference points may include Lukacs, Arendt, Mao, Boym, Barme, and Evasdottir.

ASNS 3300. Advanced Seminar in Japanese Politics.
Henry Laurence.

Analyzes the political, social, and cultural underpinnings of modern politics, and asks how democracy works in Japan compared with other countries. Explores how Japan has achieved stunning material prosperity while maintaining among the best healthcare and education systems in the world, high levels of income equality, and low levels of crime. Students are also instructed in conducting independent research on topics of their own choosing.

Chinese

CHIN 1102. Elementary Chinese II.
Songren Cui.

A continuation of Chinese 1101 (101). Five hours of class per week. Covers most of the essential grammatical structures and vocabulary for basic survival needs and simple daily routine conversations. Introduction to the next 350 characters (simplified version), use of Chinese-English dictionary. Followed by Chinese 2203 (203).

CHIN 1102. Elementary Chinese II.
Songren Cui.

A continuation of Chinese 1101 (101). Five hours of class per week. Covers most of the essential grammatical structures and vocabulary for basic survival needs and simple daily routine conversations. Introduction to the next 350 characters (simplified version), use of Chinese-English dictionary. Followed by Chinese 2203 (203).

CHIN 1104. Advanced Elementary Chinese II.
Xiaoke Jia.

A continuation of Chinese 1103 (103). Five hours of class per week. An all-around upgrade of communicative skills with an emphasis on accuracy and fluency. Covers more than 1,000 Chinese characters together with Chinese 1103 (103). Propels those with sufficient competence directly to Advanced-Intermediate Chinese [2205 (205) and 2206 (206)] after a year of intensive training while prepares others to move up to Intermediate (second-year) Chinese language course. Followed by Chinese 2203 (203) or 2205 (205) with instructor’s approval.

CHIN 1104. Advanced Elementary Chinese II.
Xiaoke Jia.

A continuation of Chinese 1103 (103). Five hours of class per week. An all-around upgrade of communicative skills with an emphasis on accuracy and fluency. Covers more than 1,000 Chinese characters together with Chinese 1103 (103). Propels those with sufficient competence directly to Advanced-Intermediate Chinese [2205 (205) and 2206 (206)] after a year of intensive training while prepares others to move up to Intermediate (second-year) Chinese language course. Followed by Chinese 2203 (203) or 2205 (205) with instructor’s approval.

CHIN 2204. Intermediate Chinese II.
Xiaoke Jia.

A continuation of Chinese 2203 (203). Five hours of class per week. Further develops students’ communicative competence and strives to achieve a balance between the receptive and productive skills. Students learn another 400 characters; read longer, more complex texts; and write short compositions with increasing discourse cohesion. Followed by Chinese 2205 (205).

CHIN 2204. Intermediate Chinese II.
Xiaoke Jia.

A continuation of Chinese 2203 (203). Five hours of class per week. Further develops students’ communicative competence and strives to achieve a balance between the receptive and productive skills. Students learn another 400 characters; read longer, more complex texts; and write short compositions with increasing discourse cohesion. Followed by Chinese 2205 (205).

CHIN 2206. Advanced-Intermediate Chinese II.
Songren Cui.

A continuation of Chinese 2205 (205). Three hours of class per week. Further enhances students’ ability in the three modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal, and presentative. Focuses on the improvement of reading comprehension and speed, and essay writing skills of expositive and argumentative essays. Deals particularly with edited and/or authentic materials from Chinese mass media such as newspapers and the Internet. Followed by Chinese 3307 (307).

CHIN 3308. Advanced Chinese II.
Xiaoke Jia.

Continuation of Chinese 3307 (307).