10000- and 20000- level courses are undergraduate; 30000-level and above are graduate.
Course offerings and times are subject to change.
An exploration of key textual and artistic works of East Asian Buddhism, including Chinese translations of Indic scriptures such as the Lotus and Vimalakirti sutras, Chan/Soen/Zen treatises and dialogues, and important works of Buddhist visual and material culture, including shrine murals, devotional prints, reliquaries, and sculptures.
May be taken as a sequence or individually. This sequence on the civilizations of China, Japan, and Korea emphasizes major transformation in these cultures and societies from their inception to the present.
Equivalent Courses: HIST 15100
This course will look at four of the most famous novels of pre-modern China: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber. Deeply self-conscious about the process of their own creation and their place within the larger literary canon, these novels deploy multiple frames, philosophical disquisitions, authorial ciphers, invented histories, and false starts before the story can properly begin. By focusing on the first ten chapters of each novel, this course will serve as both an introduction to the masterworks of the Chinese novel and an exploration of the fraught beginnings of a new genre.
Equivalent Courses: FNDL 20301
In this course, we will introduce the foundational text of the Daoist tradition: the Dao De Jing or Classic of Way and Virtue attributed to Laozi. One of the most translated classics in the world, the Dao De Jing contains a bewildering array of ideas written in terse and cryptic language. After a few introductory sessions examining the text’s historical background, date, and authorship, we will move on to consider critical analyses of the text and its manuscript counterparts excavated in China in the past few decades. As we will see, these manuscripts call into question the assumptions of traditional textual scholarship and pose new problems that are still being debated. The second half of the quarter will be devoted to the philosophical and religious aspects of the Dao De Jing. We will explore issues such as the meaning(s) of dao and de, the relationship between opposites, the concept of wu-wei (nonaction), the use of paradox and irony, mysticism, and self-cultivation. In the last two weeks, we will turn to look at the commentarial history of Dao De Jing in China as well as its reception in the West. No Chinese required.
Equivalent Courses: RLST 28617
China, Korea, and Japan are recognized as key players in the globalized world. Together they figure East Asia as a region of dynamic growth where consumers and producers create new goods and tastes at an unprecedented pace. East Asia however perplexes in that liberal ideology and politic does not appear to be a condition of liberal economy. This course examines the topic of materialism in East Asia in its pre-capitalist formations (1000 BC – 1500 AD) through the lens of consumption and production in China, Korea, and Japan. In particular we explore how things become goods within the framework of autocratic states, how rituals create consumers and temptations, as well as the conditions which entertain popular panregional forms such as manga, martial arts, and mafia. The course draws on anthropology, archaeology, mixed media materials, and museum visits.
Equivalent Courses: ANTH 21270
This course introduces students to modern Japanese literature through the form of the novel. We begin in the late-nineteenth century, when a new generation of writers sought to come to terms with this world historical form, and end in the twenty-first, with writers trying to sustain the form through graphic art and digital media. Along the way, we will consider some of the key debates that have structured the novel's evolution: between elite and mass forms, truth and fiction, art and politics, self and other, native and foreign. The course also looks at how the form has evolved in response to shifting modes of cultural production and shifting patterns of literary consumption. Authors covered will include Natsume Soseki, Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Kawabata Yasunari, Oe Kenzaburo, Tawada Yoko, Murakami Haruki, and Mizumura Minae. All works will be read in English.
This course begins in the late nineteenth century and concludes at the present day. From international political negotiations to show trials, from struggle sessions to investigative journalism, the course will trace China's turbulent twentieth century through a series of trials, occurring at pivotal historical junctures. Students will witness public and private "justice" in action both in and beyond the courtroom and across the century's radically different governmental regimes. Readings and lectures will address the broader historical context as well as details of the various trials featured in the course.
Equivalent Courses: HIST 24307
Increasingly historians of modern China have begun to turn to the complex decades between the fall of China's last dynasty and the establishment of the People's Republic of China, not merely to better understand the emergence of Communism or the fate of imperial traditions, but as a significant period in its own right. In addition to examining the major social and political changes of this period, this seminar course will explore the emergence of new cultural, artistic, and literary genres in a time notorious for its turbulence. Readings explore both new and classic interpretations of the period, as well as recent scholarship, which benefits from expanding access to Chinese archives. Students should expect regular short writing assignments. The course will culminate with each student choosing either a historiographical final paper or a close reading of a primary source in light of the issues explored in the course.
Equivalent Courses: HIST 24308/34308
This undergraduate course examines selected film texts of three representative film masters in contemporary Korea. Through the provocative cinematic achievements of the domestically and internationally acclaimed directors, we will explore the ways in which Korean cinema deal with such themes and questions as violence, body, class, ethics, gender, and historical trauma that came out as urgent issues in current South Korean society.
Equivalent courses: CMST 24621
In this course, we will attempt to become acquainted with the text of the Yi jing or Classic of Changes, focusing especially on how the text came to be produced and how it was interpreted in the pre-Qin period. We will also consider, though more briefly, how the text has been interpreted in later periods. The course will be conducted in English and all assigned readings will be in English.
This course will ask how the urban transformation of late imperial society was experienced and understood by writers and readers across the cities of the lower Yangzi region. What kinds of spaces were made possible by the late imperial city? How were these new physical and imaginative spaces—both generating and generated by the political, ritual, and commercial functions of the city—made legible and meaningful? We will look at attempts to represent and interpret the urban landscape in a range of literary genres (poetry, vernacular fiction, diaries, travelogues), visual materials (maps, landscape paintings), and inscribed objects (steles, rocks, walls). In addition to these primary materials, we will also engage with the growing body of scholarly work on the premodern city in diverse fields such as local history, architecture, and religion. Each student will focus on one city, which will serve as a lens through which to view the various thematic issues addressed in our discussions.
Equivalent Courses: HIST 44103
This seminar serves as an introduction to theories of media and mediation in the context of scholarship on East Asia. “Media” has come to be a ubiquitous term in how we think not just about technologies of communication and dissemination, but also about literature, music, film, and other forms of cultural production. In this course we will look at how the concept has been taken up in recent work on China, Japan, and Korea, and raise questions about how this work has drawn on media theories from elsewhere; how it has sought to develop or recover locally inflected theories of media; and how it is we might distinguish between the two. Our task, then, will be to consider how media theory and media history have been done, but also to speculate on how they can and should be done within an area studies framework.
This hands-on reading and research course aims to give graduate students the linguistic skills needed to locate, read, and analyze archival documents from the People's Republic of China. We will begin by discussing the functions and structure of Chinese archives at the central, provincial, and county level. Next we will read and translate sample documents drawn from different archives. These may include police reports, personnel files, internal memos, minutes of meetings, etc. Our aim here is to understand the conventions of a highly standardized communication system - for example, how does a report or petition from an inferior to a superior office differ from a top-down directive or circular, or from a lateral communication between adminstrations of equal rank? We will also read "sub-archival" documents, i.e. texts that are of interest to the historian but did not make it into state archives, such as letters, diaries, contracts, and private notebooks. The texts we will read are selected to cast light on the everyday life of "ordinary" people in the Maoist period. This course will be team-taught by me and historians of the PRC from other institutions, and will be open to selected students from outside the U of C. Non-Chicago students and teachers will participate via video conference. The course is meant for graduate students who are preparing for archival research in China or already working with archival documents. Advanced undergraduates who are doing archival research may enrol with the instructor's permission.
Equivalent Courses: HIST 41102
This research seminar aims to help students produce an original and professional piece of research, totaling roughly ten thousand words, by the end of winter quarter. Topics need not be restricted to the chronological period or major themes covered by the course, which runs from the late 1700s to 1949. During the autumn we will meet every week and usually have a reading assignment that combines one or more examples of important scholarship in a particular thematic area (e.g., gender history, environmental history, state formation, consumption and consumerism, nationalism and ideas of subjecthood/citizenship), plus one or more original documents. In some cases, these will be documents that one or more of our authors for that week actually relied upon; in others, they may simply be documents from a relevant genre that will give you some idea of what kinds of sources you will encounter if you choose to work in that area. Many of them will also be documents for which at least a partial English translation is available, but I urge you to read as many of them as possible in Chinese. Some weeks will also feature parallel excerpts from Endymion Wilkinson's Chinese History: A New Manual (4th edition), which provides an introduction to finding and using numerous research tools. There will be one short historiographic writing assignment for all students, but for students planning to take both quarters, most of the writing will focus on preparing documents that ultimately lead towards their paper: a statement of their topic, an annotated list of sources, and so on. Students who do not plan to write a research paper are welcome to take the autumn quarter only and arrange for alternate assignments.
Equivalent Courses: HIST 76305
This is a reading and discussion seminar on modern East Asia, meaning China, Korea and Japan. We will read one book per week and discuss it in class. Students will be expected to prepare an opening five-minute critique of the week's reading to get our discussions going, and PhD students will write a seminar paper. MA-degree students will do either a paper that compares and contrasts four or five (good) books on East Asia, or a paper that deals with some particular problem or conundrum that derives from the readings or our seminar discussions. The second option is not a research paper, but one in which a premium is placed on your ability to think through a problem that appears in the reading or comes out of our discussions. That paper is due on the last day of exam week for those MA students taking the seminar for just the autumn term. In the winter quarter students will present their papers for discussion with the class.
Equivalent Courses: HIST 77001
This course will explore multiple facets of translation: as a theoretical lens through which to read and understand poetry, as an important part of the history and development of Japanese poetry and poetics, and as a form of critical and creative practice for students. We will combine readings of modern Japanese poetry in translation with readings of translation theory in order to understand poetry as itself a translational mode. Throughout, we will explore the ethical and political valences of translation as a mode of expression for those on the margins of society, of language, or of the global literary canon. This involves defining translation, not only as an analytical lens for reading poetry, but also as an element of the lived experiences of many modern Japanese poets who lived and worked between cultures and languages. Translation will also offer us a way to consider the relationship of these poets to global Modernism. What is the relationship between translated poetry and “original work,” especially in the Japanese context, where many writers worked on the border between them? How do these poets trouble conventional notions of originality? What do these poets reveal about poetry as a kind of translation—and translation as a kind of poetry? Undergraduates may take this course with permission. Reading ability in Japanese though encouraged is not required.
An introduction to reading and working with Chinese religious manuscripts and stone inscriptions. Though we will read and discuss basic secondary works in paleography, codicology, and epigraphy, most of our time will be spent developing our own skills in these disciplines, including in trips to the Field Museum to examine their extensive collection of rubbings and inscribed Buddhist and Daoist statuary.
Equivalent Courses: HREL 50104