Chinese Studies



Anthropology 362 Gender and Ethnicity in China and Tibet

Chinese and Tibetan peoples have interacted for centuries, but it is only in the last half of the twentieth century that the “Tibet question” in China has risen to global attention. This course looks at modern Sino-Tibetan relations through the lens of ethnicity and gender as a way to understand the contentious process through which the Chinese nation-state and national identity have been constructed. Through readings, films, discussions, and lectures, we will explore the diversity of Tibetan and Han Chinese family organization, gender ideologies, and ethnic identities just prior to, during, and after the Communist revolutionary period. This perspective will shed light on the incorporation of Tibetans as a “minority nationality” in the Chinese “multinational state,” the role of such minorities in constructing Han Chinese majority identity, and the differing impact of state policies on men and women in the context of rapid economic reform and globalization in the PRC.

Anthropology 363 Race and Transnational China

Debates about forms of perceived or imagined social difference have a long history among people who identify as Chinese, including negotiations of diasporic relations with a Chinese homeland, now claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Those debates took on new urgency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for Chinese intellectuals faced with the threat of Western colonialism, the imperative to establish a sovereign nation-state, and the concomitant rise of Western modernity discourses that were grounded in notions of essential biological differences hierarchizing human “races.” Yet since the emergence of the PRC as global power in the 2010s and President Xi Jinping’s effort to extend Chinese infrastructure development and investment programs to over 70 countries worldwide, transnational China has seen reintensified debates about social difference and the meaning of Chineseness, as well as the rise of new mass-mediated Han Chinese nationalisms. In this course we engage multimedia sources (texts, videos, images) to explore these most recent debates in historical context. We do this as a way to dialogue with critical race theory, and to delve into the high-stakes interpretive politics of “race” and “racism” transnationally. As many Chinese scholars and netizens ask: are these English language terms even applicable in the very different cultural, historical and political economic contexts of transnational China? We start with comparative theoretical debates about the nature of “race” as historically situated perceptions and claims about biological/embodied difference. We then turn to debates in recent Chinese contexts to consider for example the relationship between discourses of “race” and “nation,” the nature of “Han-ness,” the status of “ethnic minorities,” and the status of “blackness” amidst increased Sino-African engagement. Our goal will be to expand our understandings of the stakes and contexts of cosmologies and ontologies of social difference and inequality transnationally.

Anthropology 365 The Anthropology of Development in Post-Mao China

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, state leaders have struggled to chart a course to a Chinese modernity that would break with the perceived humiliations of European domination in the nineteenth century and bring China commensurate status in a newly configured world stage of nations. Since Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms in the early 1980s, the PRC has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As such, it is poised to have major impacts globally, and especially since the PRC’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, these meteoric socioeconomic changes have complex implications for its diverse 1.4 billion people, as well as for many communities abroad now impacted by the expanding reach of Chinese investment and development efforts. This course draws on anthropological theories of modernity, capitalism, globalization, and development to turn a critical eye on discourses and practices of “development” in the PRC. Drawing on theoretical, historical, and ethnographic writings, as well as on other media such as government policy papers, advertising, and documentary and feature films, we consider the contexts and contradictions of various development efforts just before, during, and after the Maoist period, focusing especially on the post-Mao era of economic reforms. The PRC thus will serve as a case study for our broader examination of theories conceptualizing the relationships among transregional capitalisms, changing forms of governance, and local communities’ experiences.


Art 332 Art and Archeology in Early China

This course will explore artifacts excavated in China from the height of the Neolithic period (c. 4000–2000 BCE) to the end of the eastern Han dynasty (25–220 CE). Excavated objects from these periods rarely have accompanying textual explanations. Instead, we rely primarily on archaeology, which provides the raw material for understanding the distant past and constructs temporal narratives that account for the categorical differences between artifacts. With the rise of material culture studies in the field of art history, enigmatic objects that fell within the domain of archaeology may now have art-historical explanations. The course is organized chronologically by archaeological site. Secondary textual sources and comparative studies with other sites will be used to refine our understanding of artisans and their craft and the social and cultural functions of objects. What types of training did artisans undergo? What sources (manuals, tacit knowledge, guild practices, etc.) provided the necessary skills for artisans to work? How was labor divided and what were the social structures in place that dictated artisans’ modes of production? How were these objects used and circulated by the living and the dead?

Art 334 Art and Propaganda in Modern and Contemporary China

This course focuses on twentieth- to twenty-first-century Chinese visual culture and will be organized loosely around four phases of art production during the past hundred or so years. It begins with the major transition from the imperial Qing dynasty to the tumultuous Republican period in 1911, paying close attention to discussions on Western and Chinese artistic practices that arose at this critical political junction. We then turn to art production under Mao Zedong beginning in 1942, with his famous Talks on Literature and Art presented in Yan’an, in which art became an integral part of his social and political platforms. From there, we examine the visual objects produced during and shortly after the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. Finally, the rapid pace of China’s economic growth has also greatly affected its visual material. In the last half of the semester, we will seek to critically examine the process in which China has become one of the most exciting geographic regions for thinking about contemporary art, and the ways in which artists have chosen to depict and negotiate their changing realities.

Art 393 Chinese Calligraphy

This course is a survey of the history and aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy from the late Eastern Han (25–220 CE) through the Song dynasty (960–1279). In addition to familiarizing students with the calligraphy of these periods, this course also seeks to bring into conversation early Chinese theories on writing and contemporary art, historical literature, and the relationship between words and images. Some questions that will guide the general theoretical arc of the course include 1) how the origins and development of the Chinese writing system inform its later incarnations a an inextricable part of literati art; 2) what it might mean to emphasize the look of writing more than its linguistic characteristics; and 3) how closely the notion of being able to know calligraphers through their calligraphy matches the actual practice of writing and self-cultivation during this period.

Art 395 China Through the Lens

This course explores the evolution of photography in China from the 1840s to the present. We will examine how China and the Chinese have been represented through the medium, focusing on the changing uses and purposes of photography as China underwent profound social, political, and cultural transformations. As we encounter different genres of photography and agendas for making photographs, we will consider how photography was integrated into Chinese artistic practices and everyday life, helping to form new national and social identities. Topics include photography as handmaiden to imperialism, as fine art, as social documentation, and as a medium of transnational exchange; we will also investigate its relationship to print media, interactions with older media, and uses as propaganda.

Art 397 Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art in a Global Context

This course explores key figures, movements, and issues in Chinese art and visual culture from the late nineteenth century to the present. We will pay special attention to the intercultural encounters and connections from the era of international treaty ports to contemporary global art circuits. By examining key artists and landmark exhibitions in historical sequence, this course considers how aesthetic concerns, expressed through a variety of media from ink painting to video installation, engaged with the unfolding seismic sociopolitical and economic transformations in China. To trace the contours of the modern and contemporary Chinese art scene, we will also analyze primary sources including not only visual works produced but also writings by artists, group manifestos, and exhibition statements that bring into focus major debates and issues. We will consider recurring questions over modernity and tradition, political participation and representation, nationalism and transnationalism, and in relation to an expanding art world and art market.

Chinese Language

Chinese 110 First-year Chinese

A beginner’s course in standard (Mandarin) modern spoken and written Chinese, aimed at building a solid foundation in all its aspects: pronunciation (especially the tones), syntax, and basic vocabulary. Attention is given to a balanced development of all the basic skills of the language: listening and reading comprehension, speaking, and writing. Pinyin is the romanization system used in this and all other Chinese language courses. Both the traditional and simplified characters are taught. Students are expected to read both and write one of the two versions

Chinese 210 Second-year Chinese

This course is designed to build the skills of students who have studied at least one year of Chinese (or equivalent) to achieve intermediate-level proficiency in the oral and written use of the language through speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Emphasis in the course will be placed on learning to recognize and reproduce the natural flow of the spoken language, expanding vocabulary, and learning to write short essays in Chinese

Chinese 311 Third-year Chinese

This course is designed for students who have completed at least two years of Chinese language (or equivalent). The course will focus on student acquisition of near-native fluency in spoken Chinese, competence in reading a variety of contemporary texts (with a dictionary), and employment of different registers and genres of Chinese in students’ writing

Chinese 312 Advanced Chinese

Topics vary, selected from Chinese literature, journalistic writing, essays, and contemporary prose

Chinese 316 Classical Chinese

Intensive introduction to the grammar of classical Chinese through the study of selections from ancient literary, historical, and philosophical texts. Readings include The Analects, Mencius, Zhuangzi, Shiji, and Tang-Song prose essays. Conducted in Chinese. 

Chinese Literature and Culture

Chinese 324 Genres of Memory in Medieval China

Through close readings of literature produced during China’s 3rd—10th centuries, this course explores how the construction, circulation, and interpretation of experience and identity were shaped by the genres through which they were expressed. Making judicious application of medieval and modern theories of memory and genre, it explores a diverse set of questions, including: How did different genres of “memory literature”—biographies, entombed epitaph inscriptions, dirges, prayers, or poetry—constrain what could be remembered and why?  Why might information about the same individual or experience be highlighted within one genre but “forgotten” within another? And in what ways did authors play with genre expectations to produce “believable” biographies of fictional people or accounts of travel to imaginary lands, and to what end? Both primary and secondary materials are in English. Students who take the course for Chinese credit meet for additional tutoring to read parts of the texts in the original.

Chinese 325 Songs to lost music: Readings in ci-poetry

This course investigates the rise and the development of ci-poetry, a genre related closely to music. The formal features and their emotional qualities, major modes of expression, and different stages of its development from the ninth to the thirteenth century are the foci in the close reading of selected poems. 

Chinese 329 Stranger Things in Medieval China

Full course for one semester. This course will introduce students to the “accounts of the strange” (zhiguai 志怪) and “tales of the extraordinary” (chuanqi 傳奇) produced in China between the fourth and tenth centuries. These narratives feature a rich cast of protagonists, from accomplished martial artists, demon-quelling monks, and hell-visiting filial sons to undead lovers, punitive deities, and shapeshifting animals and objects. Modern scholars have often viewed these works as early precursors in the development of Chinese fiction. By contrast, the writers and compilers of those medieval stories and collections, many of whom were among the most educated men of their age, seemed instead to have understood their works as attempts to map the contours and subtle workings of the world in which they lived. In this course, we will try to read their literary projects on their terms, exploring what they reveal about cultural fears, anxieties, and aspirations, the relationships between self and “Other,” and the different realms—human, animal, natural, supernatural—that made up the world within which the inhabitants of medieval China dwelt. All readings in translation. An additional hour session of guided readings in the original will be offered for students taking the course for Chinese credit. 

Chinese 334 Yijing: Text and tradition of the Book of changes

The Yijing, or Book of Changes, is a text of limitless possibilities. This course explores various strategies of reading the text and examines philosophical, religious, historical, and literary critical implications of the text and the tradition associated with it. The system and the language of the 64 hexagrams and various layers of attached verbalization will be the focus of investigation. Readings are in English. Students who take the course for Chinese credit meet for additional tutoring to read parts of the text in the original. 

Chinese 335 Chineseness, Translated Modernity, and World Literature

Full course for one semester. If world literature is work that gains in translation (Damrosch), then modern Chinese literature, frequently a product of translingual practice, is gained in translation. Textual linkages have been established between Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 2000-1887 and Wu Jianren’s New Story of the Stone, Arthur Smith’s Chinese Characteristics and Lu Xun’s True Story of Ah Q, the Diary of a Madman in its Russian and Chinese iterations, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and the first modern Chinese love story, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Ding Ling’s Miss Sophie’s Diary, Sinclair’s The Jungle and Xiao Hong’s Hands, Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Gao Xingjian’s Bus Stop. Whether these translated texts serve as conceptual or formal inspirations or interlocutions, our understanding of the Chinese literary modernity is inevitably transformed for the better when we redirect our critical attention to the dialogic nature of the modern Chinese literary enterprise and stay mindful of the fact that Chinese literary modernity has originated and thrived as a mode of reading, writing, and circulation that is fundamentally worldly in nature. Readings are in English. Students who take the course for Chinese credit meet for additional time to engage with select texts in the original. 

Chinese 346 From Allegories to Documentaries: Screening Postsocialist China

This course investigates interactions between literary production (focusing primarily on fiction) and filmmaking since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Issues to be explored include the shared sociohistorical context that conditioned the production of these two cultural forms, and the multivalent differences between them in terms of intended audience, narrative modes, and thematic concerns. Readings are in translation, and films selected are subtitled in English. No Chinese language training is required. Readings in the original Chinese and additional instruction will be offered for students taking this course for Chinese credit. 

Chinese 347 Modern Sinophone Fiction and Film

Full course for one semester. This course examines the rich corpus of modern Sinophone literary and cinematic works produced within and beyond China proper, highlighting the historical and cultural contexts of the literature and such issues as multiculturalism, complex identities, and global perspectives. Throughout this course, students will examine Sinophone literature and films of varied historical and geographical backgrounds and construct a critical understanding of the diverse Sinophone culture. An additional session of guided readings in the original text will be offered for students taking the course for Chinese credit. 

Chinese 348 Reading for Literary Translation: Theories and Practice

Full course for one semester. This course examines theories of literary translation, including various ideas of equivalence, purposes, causes of uncertainty, and the formation of paradigms. Further, it will attempt to practice the theories, by exploring methods of reading particularly for translation and strategies of rendering such a reading into another language. A reading knowledge of Chinese is necessary. For exceptional cases, students with a reading knowledge of Japanese and Korean can be permitted to join the class. 

Chinese 367 Love in Late Imperial China

Full course for one semester. This course will examine representations of love and lovers in the literary and historical discourses of the fourteenth through nineteenth centuries. Approaching “love” (qing 情) through key words, conceptions, ideals, and acts with which it was associated, we will explore a number of questions, including: What kinds of behaviors or speech were coded as “romantic?” Were representations of “love” consistent across different discursive contexts (fictional, dramatic, poetic, historical)? Were literary representations of love seen as promoting positive ideals of romance and marriage or encouraging socially deviant and dangerous behaviors? We will also explore the discursive boundaries of love, places where words and deeds shift from love to desire, lust, madness, and obsession. Within what contexts were otherwise romantic words and deeds suddenly viewed as transgressive or disturbing? How did different forms of discourse (medical, legal) identify pathologies of love and/or propose to treat them? All readings in translation. An additional hour session of guided readings in the original will be offered for students taking the course for Chinese credit. 

Chinese 369 Modernizing Sentiments, Sentimentalizing Modernity

Modern Chinese literature, burdened from its inception with the task of nation building, is often read in terms of national allegories, but the extent to which imaginations of new collective and individual identities are articulated in emotive terms merits critical attention. Writers of all kinds share the belief that for China to transform successfully into a modern nation the sentiments of its subjects must be properly reeducated. This course looks at successive models of affective modernity that are valorized or rejected at various junctures of the twentieth century and seeks to understand their vicissitudes in literary history. It also asks at what point nation and emotion part ways and render untenable the assertion that works of modern Chinese literature are always necessarily national allegories. Readings for this course include fiction, supplemented occasionally by poetry and drama, from the late Qing period to contemporary China. An additional hour of class of guided readings in the original will be offered for students taking this course for Chinese credit. 

Chinese 374 Reading Early Chinese Novels: The Four Masterworks

Full course for one semester. This course explores the development of the novel as an artistic literary form in late imperial China by introducing students to representative novels from the Ming dynasty (fourteenth through seventeenth century), particularly the “four masterworks” (四大奇書) including Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國志通俗演義), Outlaws of the Marsh (水滸傳), Journey to the West (西遊記), and Jin Ping Mei (金瓶梅). Through reading poetry, drama, short story, and commentary alongside selected chapters of the novels, we will discuss how these works creatively appropriate motifs, conventions, and character types from China’s long narrative tradition. Close textual analyses of the primary readings will be supplemented by critical and theoretical readings to support our interpretations and allow us to assess current scholarly approaches to the study of early modern Chinese fiction. We will also examine adaptations of these monumental novels in a variety of other literary genres and artistic media to appreciate their long-lasting cultural influences across East Asia. All readings are available in translation. Students taking the course for Chinese credit will meet for an additional hour of reading in the original language. 

Chinese 380 The Story of the Stone and the Chinese Literary Tradition

This course will approach the Chinese narrative tradition through close reading of The Story of the Stone and its literary antecedents. First published in 1792, The Story of the Stone recounts the experiences of a magical stone from heaven reborn as the male heir of the immensely wealthy and aristocratic Jia family. Through reading and discussion of poetry, drama, short story, and longer works of fiction from earlier periods alongside selected chapters from the novel, we will explore the ways in which The Story of the Stone self-consciously adapts literary conventions, techniques, and motifs from the narrative tradition, and learn to appreciate both China’s rich literary tradition and the unique artistic achievements of this novel. An additional hour of class of guided readings in the original will be offered for students taking the course for Chinese credit. Readings in English. 


Dance 351 Dance Traditions of Southeast Asia

This course provides an in-depth investigation of the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of choreographic works from Southeast Asia in the context of religious, social, and political development. We will explore classical dance forms including the Peking Opera of China, court dances of Cambodia, ceremonial and ritual dances of Myanmar and Indonesia, and the performing arts of Vietnam, along with contemporary Southeast Asian dance works. Students will learn excerpts of traditional dances as a base from which to explore cultural and anthropological perspectives of performing arts in Southeast Asia, and how these perspectives influence creative processes of contemporary Southeast Asian dance artists.


Economics 382 Market Development in Poor Countries [when case studies deal with China]

TThe economic problems and policies of poor countries will be examined, with emphasis on agriculture and the rural sector because this is where much of the population and economic activity is located, and where poverty is often most severe. We consider households, and the decisions they face, in the context of both their market and nonmarket environments, including their access to land, credit, insurance, and labor employment opportunities. Market failures, and potential strategies for their resolution, are a recurring theme. Additional topics include population growth, inequality and poverty, structural change, and globalization and trade.

Economics 385 Asian Economies in Transition

This course will compare and contrast plan-to-market transition processes across several Asian countries noted for their economic size and significance, including China, Japan, and India. We will take a sectoral approach, noting variation in policy objective, design, implementation, and outcome. Among the sectors we will consider are agriculture, industry, banking and finance, foreign trade and investment, and the public sector. Our focus will be contemporary rather than historical, although the roles of initial conditions and historical legacies also are relevant to our discussions.


History 220 Late Imperial China

This course surveys the history of late imperial China (sixteenth through nineteenth centuries) by examining several critical issues in the historiography of this period. Weekly discussions will address the following topics: despots, ritualized rulers and the growth of a “bureaucratic monarchy”; global economic crisis, peasant rebellion, and the Ming–Qing cataclysm; ethnicity, violence, and exchange on Chinese frontiers; lineage formation, strategic marriages, and the consolidation of gentry rule; local magistrates and scholars and their popular tales; migration, mobility, and social anxiety in a prosperous age; gender and sexuality in Qing Confucian ideology; exploration, trade, and emigration on the south China coast; and the challenge of seaborne imperialists in the nineteenth century.

History 221 From Treaty Ports to Megacities: Chinese Urban History

In China today, few environments change more rapidly than those in major metropolitan centers. Uncontrollable hypergrowth, large floating populations, and insufficient resources and infrastructure all make efficient urban planning and healthy community development difficult to achieve. This course will examine the origins of these current challenges, as well as solutions posed to solve earlier problems, both imagined and real. Topics to be addressed will include imperial models and spatial legacies; treaty ports, bunds, and foreign concessions; rural migration, sojourning, and movement between cities; hinterlands, regional networks, and global connections; revolutionary hygiene and public health; department stores, desire industries, and Shanghai fashion; the interwar lifestyles of petty urbanites and Westernized capitalists; covert political communities and urban labor organizing; wartime destruction and relocation; purifying the decadent city via socialist governance; hutongs, alleyway houses, and rebuilt residential space; and reassessing the colonial past and the globalized present in China’s megacities.

History 222 Consumer Cultures in Modern East Asia

This course will explore the relationship between consumerism, nationalism, and imperialism in Republican-era China and the Japanese empire. We will consider how individuals in China, Japan, and Korea forged new identities and livelihoods through the increasingly global marketplace. Governments and social reformers, recognizing the potency of consumerism, encouraged and coerced their citizens into spending patterns intended to support moral improvement, national strength, and imperial victories. Gender will be an important factor in our analysis, for anxieties about consumer culture frequently targeted women. Individual, class, and government interests converged and diverged in early twentieth-century efforts to mold not just spending habits, but daily life in East Asia. Topics will include Shanghai as a dazzling emporium, Japan’s department stores and their first branches in Seoul, and the colonial roots of South Korea’s chaebol. The course will also address the differences within each region, between the metropoles and provincial cities, for example.

History 240 World Environmental History

This course approaches the study of “world environmental history” as a fascinating problem of historical methodology. We begin by introducing environmental history at its largest scales of time and space, investigating how climate, biodiversity, natural resources, and commodities have affected human history on a global level. We will then move on to a series of more specific case studies that complicate these large-scale historical analyses. As we visit the pastoral landscapes of Nazi Germany, the toxic waters and fields of modern Japan, the denuded countryside of imperial China, and the socially stratified villages of northern India, we will see how culture, memory, religion, and power shape reciprocal relationships between humans and their geographically unique surroundings in a number of different ways. Finally, we will investigate how these different valances of environmental history have informed a twentieth-century regime of global environmental governance—a regime born of good intentions, but one replete with problems of efficacy, equitability, and justice.

History 320 Merchants and Mariners on the Water Frontier, 1400–1820

Indigenous mariners and merchants had traversed the oceans of East and Southeast Asia long before Europeans first ventured into those seas. By 1600 Chinese and Japanese sea lords and interlopers had created vast networks of migration and exchange, peppered with conflict and violence, from Siam and Malacca to Ryukyu and Nagasaki. This seminar explores the social and cultural history of this early modern maritime world. Selective topics include Zheng He’s Indian Ocean voyages; designated ports and unruly hinterlands; seaborne migrations and translocal connections; regional cults and sea goddesses’ miracles; merchants, supercargoes, and the vicissitudes of maritime trade; competing maritime cartographies; pirates and the business of violence; ocean archaeology and mariculture ethnographies; and hybrid identities in a maritime world.

History 321 Visual Cultures in Modern China, 1842–1949

This course will explore the rapidly changing visual environment of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century China. With printed and painted images, photographs, film, fashion, streetscapes, and exhibitions as our sources, we will establish the political, social, and technological changes that were at the root of these new manifestations of the visual. We will also question how images were instrumental in forming modern Chinese culture, paying attention to the development of national consciousness, gender roles, and consumer culture. We will attend to what visual sources depict, but also go beyond their subject matter to understand the complex messages these images conveyed to viewers. We will consider both the foreign gaze upon China and the ways in which modern Chinese artists, designers, and activists used the theories and techniques they had learned from Japan and the West. Pairing primary texts with visual materials, we shall see that these sources can be complementary or contradictory.

History 322 Revolution and the State in Twentieth-Century China, 1911–1976

This course examines the intertwined processes of revolution and state building in twentieth-century China, with a focus on the Communist revolution. The course considers the longue durée of the Communist revolution, including Mao Zedong’s investigation of local society in the 1920s, the Communist control of base areas prior to their 1949 victory, the Great Leap Forward of the 1950s, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Considering the Communist revolution as a process, this course also examines the continuities between Communist rule in China and the preceding Nationalist government. The Nationalist efforts to develop China’s infrastructure, educate citizens, and discipline its population will be compared to the unprecedented penetration of Chinese society by the Communist state. Historical investigation based on local archives and personal accounts will permit an understanding of how diverse people experienced and enacted revolutionary change, as Mao Zedong’s territory expanded from scattered bases to nation to China’s borderlands. The course will question how the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution fit within a century of modernization and revolution, and consider government efforts to control nature as well as people.

History 323 Rice in East Asia

This course examines the history of rice in East Asia as crop, food, commodity, genetic resource, and symbol. How were institutions of social cohesion in China and Japan influenced by the particular demands of, and a commitment to, small-scale, labor-intensive riziculture? When and how were relations between consumer tastes and rice markets mediated by “rice masters”? What roles has rice played in linking the histories of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the world between 1000 and the present? How did the “green revolution” alter that regional regime of rice cultivation, exchange, and consumption? These and other questions will be explored in multidisciplinary fashion with a broad range of original data and recent historiography.

History 326 Layered Memories of Japanese Colonialism

This course explores major issues in the recent historiography on Japanese imperialism and colonialism and the complex communities that designed, managed, and/or experienced Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan and Korea (Japan’s major colonies). Major topics will include typologies and approaches related to colonialism, “colonial modernity,” and other major keywords; legal and epistemological structures of colonial rule, colonizers’ representations of colonial peoples and landscapes; assimilation policies, the rule of colonial difference, and colonial identity formations; narratives of elitist and subaltern resistance; colonial literature and literary movements; colonial anthropology and the “aborigine”; total war and total empire; wartime sex slaves and their clients; decolonization and the complexity of postcolonial problems and problematics.

History 327 Meiji Restoration/Revolution

Few events in Japanese history receive more attention than the Meiji Restoration (or Revolution). A critical marker in Japanese political history, the restoration is also perceived as a major watershed in economic, social, and cultural developments. This course will examine the specific drama of imperial restoration, the modernizing revolution initiated from above thereafter, and the historical contexts that help to explain both. Major topics will include agrarian uprisings, new religious movements, and ee ja nai ka dancing; nativism and world rectification thought; the “opening” of Japan and the effect of international trade and diplomacy on internal Japanese conflicts; bakafu attempts at political reform and the avoidance of foreign invasion; the military rebellion of “loyalist” samurai; and the transformative changes initiated by the Meiji oligarchy after 1868. Readings will include both participant observations and post-Meiji assessments.

History 328 Popular Culture in Interwar Japan, 1905–1937

Between Japan’s stunning defeat of Russia in 1905 and its invasion of northern China in 1937, citizens of Japan rushed headlong into all manner of modern culture, creating and consuming the forerunners of several well-known forms of contemporary Japanese cultural production. After a brief introduction to the social and economic transformation of Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this course will address the following topics: silent film and benshi narrators; photography for everyone; detective fiction as a source for modern Japanese novels; cosmetics, advertising and design in department stores; popular songs and jazz; the “modern girl” and the eroticized cafe waitress; the gender-bending Takarazuka Revue; the origins of Japan’s national love affair with baseball; and “middle-classness” and the reform of everyday life.

History 329 Cameras and Photography in Nineteenth-Century East Asia

This course examines the early history of photography in China and Japan. Attention will be given to the complex (and disparate) technological histories of the medium, the varied uses to which the camera was put, and the impact of this new technology upon visual cultures in China and Japan. The dissemination of photographs into other media and the impact of consumer preferences upon content and style will also be examined. Travel landscapes, studio portraits, ethnographic photographs, and documentary images by Euro-American, Japanese, and Chinese photographers are among the visual data to be analyzed. Other sources include optical treatises, travel literature, government reports, and early ethnographies.

Humanities 231/232 Chinese Humanities

This course is a team-taught, year-long interdisciplinary examination of two pivotal periods in Chinese history, the Qin/Han (221 B.C.E. - 220 C.E.) and Song (960 - 1279 C.E.) dynasties.

Hum 231: Early Imperial China: The Qin-Han Unification

In geography and cultural advances, the Qin and Han dynasties surpassed their predecessors, and together they number among the world’s greatest empires. This course examines their heritage through a selection of primary texts including the Confucian Analects, the enigmatic Dao de Jing, the cosmological Book of Changes, and the historical narrative tradition of Sima Qian’s Shi Ji. It samples cultural expression ranging from the poetic discourse of rhapsodies and pentasyllabic verse to the religious endeavors manifested in funerary artifacts. Alongside textual studies, this course explores the Han’s physical remains, including the ruins of its capitals, and its important tombs. The Qin/Han portrays itself as a territorial, political, and cultural unifier, and it sets the benchmark against which all later dynasties must measure themselves.

Hum 232: Middle Imperial China: The Great Song Transition

The transformation of Chinese civilization during the “Song renaissance” (960–1279) is our major concern for the fall semester. China mentally realigned itself, first because it had to acknowledge other players in the world such as the powerful nomad states along its own northern borders and second because those nomads would occupy the northern half of China during what is called the “Southern Song” (1127–1279). Buddhism, a foreign religion though it had been introduced to China many centuries before the Song period, flourished alongside the indigenous popular pantheon. Furthermore, China underwent internal changes such as the emergence of a vibrant urban culture. Self-representation changed in tandem with the rise of a new social stratum, the shidafu, and the literati culture it produced. The change rippled into the fine arts as well. We will study the new contexts of Chinese civilization through travel essays, cartography, and reports and journals of diplomatic envoys. Tiantai Buddhism, Chan Buddhism, and indigenous popular religion will be examined through their primary texts. We will observe the changes in culture via storytelling and dramatic texts and via Song cityscape paintings. We will “learn about the Way” (daoxue) with Zhu Xi, China’s second-most famous scholar, who recast his forerunner Confucius to make him the linchpin of middle and late imperial education. In literature, we will study Song shi- and ci-poetry. Shi-poetry showed expanded topics and the mindset of the new literati class. Ci-poetry transformed the very notion of poetics. In art, we will analyze monumental landscape painting, printed illustrations, and Song calligraphy. The Qin-Han unification may have laid the basic foundation of China, but many have argued that the Song gave modern China its distinctive cultural heritage.

Liberal Studies

Liberal Studies 542 Revolution and Reform in Chinese Agriculture

China’s incredible economic transformation and growth trajectory started simply with a few carefully chosen modifications to the incentive structure faced by farmers. The contract responsibility system handed back to farm households the rights to manage their land, labor, and other production resources. This step away from collective farming is credited with unleashing productivity forces well beyond initial expectations and paving the way for a continuing series of market-oriented reforms. China also experienced a short-lived farm production boost in an earlier era, shortly after formation of the People’s Republic of China, characterized by gradual introduction of collective resource ownership and management, ultimately leading to commune-style farming. Why would both collectivization and then the subsequent decollectivization stimulate production increases? And why was the second of these episodes more sustained? This course will seek to understand how and why China transformed itself twice, in opposite directions, exploring the impetuses behind these changes, their impacts, and their legacies. Relying primarily on concepts and tools from the economics discipline, we will supplement our analysis with a variety of disciplines, including sociology, political science, and anthropology.


Religion 115 Religion and Philosophy in Pre-Imperial China

This course analyzes religion and philosophy in preimperial China (i.e., before 221 BCE) alongside their literary and artistic manifestations. While a billion people can today claim an intellectual inheritance from Greece, more than two billion recognize ancient China as their foundation. Beginning with the oracle bones and sacrificial bronze vessels, the course will progress to the Confucian classics and the blossoming of Chinese philosophy. Analyses will include bronze-age material culture (including the new discoveries of Sanxingdui), The book of songs from the Confucian tradition, The Zhuangzi from the Daoist tradition, and The Huainanzi, the last compiled as a thorough summary of the cosmos to be used by the ruler of a newly unified empire.

Religion 116 Religion and Philosophy in Early Imperial China

Once China unified and became a self-aware entity in terms of history and territory, its philosophies and religions likewise crystallized into recognized schools and distinct churches. Its philosophers endeavored to uncover cosmic patterns, define existence and map out the ethical life. Its religious specialists imposed structure on the ancestors, streamlined the state cult and set standards for achieving salvation. This survey of imperial history's first six hundred years will examine state religion, the foundations of the Daoist church and Buddhism's entry from India. Devoted to primary texts in translation, it will explore Daoist theoretical musings (including the Liezi and three commentaries to the Daode jing), Confucian ceremonial guidelines (including the Ritual records), and Buddhist texts (including the Diamond and Vimalakirti sutras). It will also study how particular individuals reacted to this environment, including Emperor Wang Mang who transformed his capital into a cosmic fulcrum and the cynic Wang Chong who dismissed religions that anthropomorphized the cosmos. This course will also draw upon contemporaneous literary, poetic and material cultures (including the Portland Art Museum collections).

Religion 310 Death, Hell, and Rebirth in Chinese History

Using Reed’s study collection of Chinese hell scrolls as a springboard, this course explores texts and images that trace out the cycles of death and rebirth in literary genres. We follow the monk Mulian as he looks for his mother in hell, and we witness Emperor Taizong as he faces judgment before the underworld magistrates. We study Chinese sutras as well as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and we unpack the 400-page travelogue of Taiwanese monks who in the 1970s undertook scores of day trips to hell via spiritual mediums. Throughout we will consider which theoretical lenses in religious studies are most useful in increasing our understanding of Chinese retributive hell.

Religion 312 Early Chinese Cosmology and Its Ritual Response

This course is an examination of the diverse cosmological traditions that underpin later institutional faiths, and will explore early Chinese attempts to locate the human being within a larger natural order. Early Chinese scholars wrestled with ideas of a pervasive yin and yang as well as other forms of correlative interaction, and in their application of these ideas they formulated systems that explained everything from the inner workings of the body to the greater astronomical order. The course examines their broader concepts such as time and space as well as specific topics such as astronomy, alchemy, and afterlife. It also considers the ritual response to this cosmology—that is, the means whereby humans accessed the larger natural order. Rituals mimicked cosmological hierarchies, and they also interacted with that cosmology through sacrifice, divination, shamanism, and seasonal festivals. Students will explore the archeological evidence, and their readings will focus upon primary texts in translation. 

Religion 313 Early and Medieval Chinese Buddhism

In its theoretical guise, Chinese Buddhism focused on the idea of "emptiness," of everything (including the self) being empty of any permanent, independent qualities. This course will begin with the Buddhist sutras and catechisms (e.g. the Perfect enlightenment, Diamond and Platform sutras) that endeavored to unpack this idea of emptiness. It will then turn to how religious Buddhism paradoxically attempted to give concrete form to that emptiness, translating theory into the lives of buddhas and bodhisattvas, into monastic disciplines and hellish fears, into poetic expression and material culture. Ultimately, our guiding question will be as follows: "Does emptiness actually survive the translation to make Buddhism a unique religion?" 

Religion 361 To Hell with Comparative Religions

The pedagogical tour of retributive hell is probably the most detailed religious phenomenon common to a great number of religious traditions. No matter whether the visitor is named Muhammad or Mulian, Vipashchit or Viraf, St. Patrick or Moses, Odysseus or Dante, the protagonist is led through the grisly horrors of hell so that he (or, more rarely, she) can return to the living and warn them to live moral lives. This course explores the usage of hell as a religious tool both past and present. We will begin by studying theories and methods regarding the comparison of religions, and then we will study several hell tours in depth, such as the American evangelical phenomenon of Hell House and the Chinese art tradition of the 10 hell kings. After that, participants will specialize in a particular hell tour from a religious tradition of their own choosing, and as a group we will consider 1) the validity of comparison, 2) the utility of comparison, and 3) the possible reasons behind the popularity of this hellish phenomenon. 


Theatre 323 Puppetry and the Performing Object

This courses focuses on the history and practice of puppetry in historical and contemporary contexts, and the incorporation of puppets and performing objects into avant-garde performance contexts. We focus our study on the traditions of shadow puppetry in various regions (e.g., Indonesia, China, Greece) as well as other puppetry traditions such as Japan’s Bunraku and contemporary object performance. Lab work includes designing, constructing, and performing in various different puppetry styles. The course culminates in a large-scale shadow puppet performance.