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ASIA 290

Topics in Asian Studies

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.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Spring Semester information

Andra Alvis

290A: Tps:Manga, Anime, Religion

Tps:Manga, Anime, Religion

"Manga, Anime and Religion" explores Japanese pop culture's frequent references to Buddhism and Shinto--allusions that generally leave a non-Japanese audience puzzled. What's so funny about a goddess with an inflatable rock cave? Why did those Buddhist monks just turn into (Yikes!) evil insect space aliens... We'll start off by gaining "cultural literacy" in Buddhism and Shinto, so that we recognize signs of religion when they appear in Japanese pop culture. Next we'll move on to considering why references to Buddhism and Shinto are so prevalent, with a special focus on the genres of fantasy and comedy. Finally, we'll turn to the question of how manga and anime portray Japanese religions as social institutions: looking at the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly. By the end of the semester, you'll be able to appreciate all the best scenes from a popular manga like Saint Young Men--and explain to your roommate why you're laughing out loud that Buddha has gotten trapped on a late-night train with rowdy, drunken businessmen holding onto his ears.


Suzanne Barber

290B: Tps:Transforming China

Tps:Transforming China

This course will examine social movements that have shaped and continue to shape China's history and culture. We will explore topics such as environmental movements, gender equality, economic equality, migrant-workers rights, and political change. We will look at both historical movements, as well as social movements and protests currently occurring in China.


Fall Semester information

Sherry Mou

290A: Tps: From Confucius to Kung-fu

What does kung-fu mean? Did Confucius know kung-fu? How is gun-fu related to kung-fu? Through close examination, reading, and analysis of thirteen Chinese films and an assortment of readings on Confucianism and Taoism, we will investigate the world of Chinese knight-errantry. We will look at the philosophical orientations, world views, aesthetic features, and cultural motivations that produced what is broadly known as the kung-fu film genre, which for more than half a century has captured the imagination and interest of many Chinese and Western audiences. These films show how the rituals, spectacle, moral values, and social practices fostered in traditional theatre and in real life are re-presented on screen. We will trace the origins of important cultural traditions and ideas embedded in the kung-fu films, look at how they transform into action movies, and explore how the original ideas associated with knight-errantry are presented through various cultural signs, symbols, language, and codes of behavior.