Interdisciplinary, Interregional, Transnational, & Diaspora Courses

Interdisciplinary, Interregional, Transnational and Diaspora Studies (ASCL 70s) courses are designed to provide students with broader perspectives on Asia. These courses may focus on Asia’s shared cultural heritages, others may focus on humanistic responses to historical and sociological phenomena, some are deliberately comparative. (Note: ASCL 11s can be used to fulfil this requirement.) 

ASCL 70s

ASCL 70.01 (Formerly AMES 40.06) /ARTH 38.01) Sacred Architecture of Asia

This course provides an introduction to the sacred architecture of Asia and the Middle East through a series of case studies that include Buddhist monasteries, Hindu temples, Mosques, Daoist and Confucian temples, Shinto shrines, funerary architecture, and the sacred dimensions of political authority as manifested in palaces, city plans, and mausolea. The pan-Asiatic nature and long historical development of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam affords opportunities to examine national and sectarian adaptations of architectural practices. This course has no prerequisites and assumes no prior experience with Asian religions or architectural studies.

  • Hockley
  • Dist: Int or Art, WCult: NW
  • 19F:10

ASCL 70.02 (Formerly AMES 21.12) /ARTH 38.03) East Meets West

This class explores the interaction between the cultures of East Asia and the West from as early as c. 200 BCE to the early 20th century. The course consists largely of four themes: The Silk Road and the Arts, Pottery Stories, Jesuit Missionaries and the Arts, and Asian Arts in Europe. Through lectures, readings, and films, we will explore the historical and artistic links between East and West and some selected art associated with those routes. This course requires no previous experience and is intended for those who like interdisciplinary approaches to art and culture. No previous coursework is required.

  • Kim
  • Dist: Art; WCult: NW
  • 20S: 11

ASCL 70.03 (Formerly AMES 40.04)  /FILM 42.01) Asian Animation as a Socio-Political Artifact

Because animated films have traditionally been targeted at children, animators in Asia have often been able to side-step much of the political control exercised by some of their more centralized governments to create sophisticated artistic works that speak as much to educated adults as they do to children. The course will feature the most interesting of these works from China, Japan, and Korea, and students will analyze them within a socio-political and cultural context. Particular attention will be paid to the development of both originality and argumentation in student papers and class participation.

  • Dist: Art; WCult: NW
  • Not to be offered in the period from 19F through 20S

ASCL 70.04 (Formerly AMES 43.03) Tokyo and Shanghai as Ideas: Urban Space/Imagined Modernity

Tokyo and Shanghai are not just major centers of political and economic activity. They are also ideas, functioning as imagined space that is backdrop for and symbol of the desires, aspirations, and dislocations characteristic of contemporary Asian societies. This course examines the hold Tokyo and Shanghai have had on East Asian writers, artists, and intellectuals, and the role these metropolises currently play in the globalization of modern culture. 

  • Washburn
  • Dist: Int or Lit; WCult: NW
  • Not to be offered in the period from 19F through 20S

ASCL 70.05 (Formerly AMES 43.06) China in the Japanese Imagination: Translations of Identity 

China has profoundly influenced every formative element of identity in Japan: language, legal and political institutions, religion, philosophy, and the visual and literary arts. This course surveys key historical moments – the Taika Reforms of the seventh century, mid-Heian appropriations of Tang court society, Tokugawa adaptations of Ming and Qing culture – to examine how the process of translating Chinese cultural forms radically reshaped Japanese society and impacted the vexed modern relationship between the two nations.

  • Washburn
  • Dist: INT or LIT; WCult: NW
  • Not to be offered in the period from 19F through 20S

ASCL 70.06 (Formerly AMES 40.01) Magic and Supernaturalism in Asian Literature and Film

This course examines magical and supernatural elements in literature and films from China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia. It studies artistic, psychological and political implications and interregional traditions of folklore and fiction. Literary texts include Pu Song Lin’s Strange Tales from a Studio, Catherine Lim’s The Howling Silence, Batin Long bin Hok’s Jah Hut Tales and Tunku Halim’s Dark Demon Rising. Films may include Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan and contemporary works such as Chan Wook Park’s Thirst.

  • Chin
  • Dist: INT or LIT; WCult: NW 
  • Not to be offered in the period from 19F through 20S

ASCL 70.07 (Formerly AMES 24) /THEA 24) Asian Performance Traditions

This course studies the performance traditions of Asia, focusing on China, Japan, Indonesia and India. Classical forms studied include Noh, Bunraku, Beijing opera, Sanskrit drama, Balinese dance and Javanese puppet theater. Attention is paid to social, religious and aesthetic influences on these traditions, theories on which they are based, the history behind the theatrical practices, and training and dramatic techniques. Students gain an appreciation of the rich variety and scope of theatrical conventions of Asia.

  • Chin
  • Dist: ART; WCult: NW
  • 20S: 2A

ASCL 70.08 (Formerly AMES 40.02) Nomads from Central Asia to the Middle East: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

This course examines nomadic pastoralism as an economic system adapted to ecologically marginal environments and as a socio-political system adapted to the culturally heterogeneous regions of Central Asia and the Middle East. We will survey the changing roles of nomadic peoples to gain insight into the political and social dynamics of historical and contemporary societies in this region. Nomad society, its origins and development, the ecology of the pastoralism, gender, and identity issues as well as the relationship between nomad and sedentary societies and the role of pastoralism as a route of cultural transmission and economic exchange are examined.

  • Bauer
  • Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW
  • Not to be offered in the period from 19F through 20S

ASCL 70.09 (Formerly AMES 30) /MUS 4) Global Sounds

A survey of music and music-making whose origins are in the non-European world. Examples include Indian raga, Middle Eastern maqam, West African drumming, Javanese gamelan, and Tuvan throat-singing. Course work will include listening, reading and critical writing assignments. Where possible, visiting musicians will be invited to demonstrate and discuss the music under consideration.

  • Levin 
  • Dist: ART; WCult: NW
  • 20S:10A

ASCL 70.10 (Formerly AMES 40.09) /MUS 45.06) Music from the Lands of the Silk Road

Drawing from the world’s rich and diverse musical traditions, this course focuses on music and musical life in a particular geographic region or on a specific topic addressed from a cross-cultural and/or interdisciplinary perspective. In winter 2017, the focus is on music from the lands of the Silk Road, the trans-Eurasian network of trade routes that stretched from Europe to the Japan. Examples will be drawn from contemporary and historical musical traditions of the Middle East, Azerbaijan, China, Korea, Japan, India, and Central Asia. No prerequisite; no prior musical experience is required.

  • Levin
  • Dist: Art; WCult: NW
  • Not to be offered in the period from 19F through 20S

ASCL 70.11 Catastrophe, Memory, and Narrative: Japanese and Jewish Responses to Atrocity in the Twentieth-Century

This course will examine Japanese and Jewish responses to twentieth-century atrocities.  We will pay close attention to how catastrophic events are mourned and memorialized through narrative. We will analyze eyewitness accounts of the events, memoirs, fiction, feature films and filmed testimonies, photography museum exhibits, etc.  We will discuss issues such as the nature of mourning and the process of mourning through art and culture; the memorializing of tragedy; the ethics of the representation of tragedy; revenge and survivor guilt.  Throughout, we will be asking about the possibilities, and the difficulties, of comparing responses by different cultures to different types of atrocities. This will require accounting for differences in religious belief, notions of psychology, and literary and artistic form.  Is the process of mourning universal? Are the responses to atrocity?  Is comparing the Japanese and Jewish cases ethically suspect? How does a nation that has victimized mourn its own victimization?

  • Tansman
  • Dist: LIT; WCult: CI
  • Not offered in the period of 19F-20S

ASCL 70.12 Voices and Images from Asian Borderlands

Borderlands are where modern nation-states are geographically defined and where their orders are both challenged and reinforced. This course studies the formation of modern nations in Asia and its consequences in the twentieth century from a “borderland perspective.” The cases to be studied include Hokkaido in Japan, Manchuria in mainland China, the Partition of India and Pakistan, the division of the two Koreas, the Taiwan island, and the highlands connecting East and South Asia commonly referred to as Zomia. The long historical process from colonial expansion to post-war demarcation across Asia, along with the ordinary people’s experience of this process, is witnessed by writers and artists from the borderlands with distinctive creativity and criticism. The disciplinary perspectives involved in the course range from literature, film, and art to history, anthropology, and linguistics. Enrollment is open, and there are no prerequisites. You do not need to know any Asian language to take the course.

  • Xie
  • Dist: LIT; WCult: NW
  • 20S: 12

ASCL 70.16 Eat Drink Japan: Interdisciplinary Approach

This course is an interdisciplinary survey of food and beverage in Japan from premodern times to the present. Through lectures, readings, discussions, and films, we will explore the subject from the multiple perspectives of history, culture, and contemporary politics and society. The topics covered will range from food production and consumption to religious and artistic representations and the construction of cultural identities in Japan’s past and present.

  • Ericson 
  • Dist: SOC Wcult: NW
  • 19F: 2A

ASCL 70.17/GEOG 80.06 Women in Asian Cities

We live in a time of increasing urbanization and globalization, paralleled with prevailing poverty and uneven access to infrastructure. In this course, we will explore these issues through a focus on women across Asia. We will also examine how politics of race, class, caste, religion, and migration status shape urban experiences for these women. Major thematic areas for this course include migration, informal economies, mobility, culture, and urban nature. The class will draw on academic scholarship, newspaper articles and popular culture to introduce gendered perspectives on cities across Asia including Istanbul, Tehran, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Manila.

  • Parikh
  • Dist: SOC; WCult: CI
  • 20S:2A

ASCL 70.18 Social Revolutions East and West: Japan and the United States in the 1960s

This course examines social movements in the United States and Japan during the turbulent 1960s. Activists and artists engaged with civil rights causes, anti-war movements, and campaigns to end discrimination of all sorts, blending these political agendas with the production of culture and the deployment of new technologies. As a result, new cognitive praxes came into place, and the patterns of knowledge production were forever changed. With a focus on the genres of music, comics/manga, and literature as they evolved in America and Japan in the 1960s, students in the course will learn to recognize how knowledge and worldviews are shaped by the systems of culture that generate them. There are no prerequisites for this course.  

  • Dorsey
  • Dist: INT and LIT, WCult: CI 
  • Not offered in the period of 19F-20S

ASCL 70.19/REL 41.02 Buddhism and Film

“What is Buddhism?” “How can it be something expressed in and through the medium of film?” and “What actually constitutes a Buddhist film?” After an introductory survey of central topics in Buddhism, this course will explore the cinematic presentation of Buddhist religion, philosophy, practices, saints, and institutions. By learning to watch films critically from a Buddhist perspective, students will explore the process through which we create the meaning in films and everyday life. Open to all.

  • Seton
  • Dist: TMV, WCult: NW
  • Not offered in the period of 19F-20S

ASCL 70.20/REL 41.04 Buddhist Meditation Theory

The Buddhist theory of meditation was first articulated 2,500 years ago and has since been adapted to numerous cultural contexts in Asia and the West. This course offers a survey of the three traditional religious frameworks for meditation practice, but also pays some attention to the secularized applications of mindfulness techniques in modern society and to the current status of scientific studies on the effects of those techniques. The course primarily concerns theoretical questions and controversies surrounding Buddhist meditation, but students will get the chance to experiment with secular mindfulness techniques outside of class and to attend a field trip to a local Buddhist temple. Open to all.

  • Seton
  • Dist: TMV, WCult: NW
  • 20W: 10