Usually a course on aspects of one of the societies and cultures studied in the Asian Studies program (India, China and Japan) or a comparative treatment of aspects of these cultures.
Spring Semester informationAndra Alvis
290A: Tps:Japanese Horror Films: The Classics
Ghosts and demons and psychopaths--Oh my! Welcome to the world of classic Japanese horror... Each unit of the course focuses in depth on 1-2 seminal Japanese horror films from the last 60 years, films ranging from the cult classic Godzilla to the art house classic Onibaba. Taking these extraordinary and enjoyable films as our focus, we'll delve into crucial issues for the history, conventions, and production of Japanese horror cinema: for example, "Where did the ghosts typical of J-Horror originate?" and "How did WW II affect representations of demons, hell and insanity?" At the same time, however, we won't neglect to explore the many intriguingly quirky byways of horror film in Japan. (Think: "What special effects technology works best when creating a 100-year-old-umbrella monster?")
Class work will involve: 1) regular quizzes on films/readings; 2) a midterm; and 3) your final group projects--a 2-3 minute Japanese-style horror video.
290B: Tps:Sophists, Hippies, Anomalies, and "Poetesses": Chinese Literature before the Mongols (in Translation)
The sophists of the Warring States period, the Chinese hippies of the Bamboo Grove, the anomalies and the fantastic of China's Golden Age (the Tang dynasty), and the voices of poetesses from both men and women: these are some of the main scenes of Chinese literature from roughly the 12th century B.C. to the 13th century A.D., the eve of the Mongol invasion. Our effort will be made mainly to familiarize ourselves with major genres and themes of Chinese literature, including poetry (e.g., "the music bureau," "classical poetry," and "lyric meters"), prose (e.g., historical and philosophical), and fiction (e.g., "small talks," "describing anomalies," and "romances"). No knowledge of Chinese is required.
290C: Tps:Post-Soviet Central Asia|From Silk Roads to Pipelines
This course focuses on Post-Soviet Central Asia, namely the republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, as well as the southern part of Russian Siberia. We will examine films and literature from each country as a gateway to their history, culture, and current socioeconomic status. Topics include power relations, ethnic, national, and international conflicts, environmental problems, indigenous cultures and traditions, and the impact of communism and capitalism on the region. We will look at Central Asia's past and present importance both for Eurasian geopolitics and for US interests, starting in the time of the Silk Roads, through the Great Game of the nineteenth century, the ecological disasters of the twentieth, and up to the turbulent transitional period of the 1990s and the troubled 2000s. Finally, we will study how the complex networks of ethnic and tribal identities, as well as the Soviet legacy, play out in the contemporary national-identity formation process in each respective republic and how these narratives are framed in popular culture. The course includes critical readings in history, sociology, and anthropology, political science, and film and literary theory; we will also analyze primary sources: films, novellas, and poems. All readings and films will be available in English; however, knowledge of Russian or a Central Asian language is a plus. A special Russian-language class component is available for Russian Studies minors.