2023-2024 Catalog

ASN 295 Topics in Asian Studies

Topics vary semester to semester. Specific topics may satisfy different Core Program requirements.

Inscribed Landscape: Nature and Travel in Chinese Literature

This course will lead students into the world of the Chinese cultural landscape through the lens of literature. We are going to conduct virtual travel to the mountains and waters in China by reading the masterpieces of Chinese landscape and travel writings. We will study the symbolic language that Chinese writers employed to describe their experiences of the natural landscape and their constructions of the cultural landscape. In a broader sense, the focus of this course stems from the interest in cultural geography in the Chinese context. The majority of the course content is on the pre-1800 period. In addition to analyzing literary texts through close reading, this course will introduce students to the ArcGIS system, a digital tool widely used in geohumanities research to view, edit, and analyze geographic data. Students will enjoy the opportunity to create a project using StoryMaps to illustrate their vision of a cultural place. Classes follow a lecture-discussion format. Students are expected to finish assigned readings in advance and actively participate in class discussions. No knowledge of the Chinese language or history is required (or assumed) for this literature-in-translation course.

Cultural Appreciation and/or Appropriation through the Lens of Asian Cinema

At its core, this course is an attempt to investigate, analyze, and ultimately comprehend the concept of cultural appropriation, in particular through an East Asian context. With a history of imperialism, be it Western or Japanese, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the topic of cultural appropriation is controversial and complicated, whether it is Katy Perry performing wearing a kimono at the American Music Awards or Chinese-Taiwanese-American chef Eddie Huang and his embrace (appropriation?) of African-American black culture. Prior to the actual viewing and analyzing of films, a comprehensive, albeit limited, survey of theoretical works will be conducted; works including but not limited to Richard Rogers’ “From Cultural Exchange to Transculturation: A Review and Reconceptualization of Cultural Appropriation,” Baris Buyukokutan’s “Toward a Theory of Cultural Appropriation,” and Lisa Nakamura’s concept of “identity tourism.” Some of the pairings to be analyzed are: William Shakespeare’s King Lear and Akira Kurosawa’s Ran; Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992) and Lee Sang-il’s Japanese Western Yuzusazarumono (2013).

Hear Now: Jean Luc Nancy and the Aesthetics of Community

In this class, we shall be examining the work of one the world’s most important living philosophers, Jean Luc Nancy. Special emphasis will be placed on the close relation Nancy seeks to draw between our so-called “private” aesthetic experiences—the painting that arrests us, the bar of melody that makes us tremble, the line of poetry that haunts us—and our sense of “being in community” (the sense, that is, that our supposedly singular existence is always already plural, is always already shared out with others). Beyond the reading of Nancy’s own works, we shall also be looking at the work of some of his most important predecessors on the question of art’s relation to the community (Kant, Hegel, Benjamin, Adorno), as well as the works of those thinkers who have engaged most directly with his ideas (Derrida, Agamben, Esposito), and those who have explicitly sought to oppose him (Ranciere, Badiou, and others). Prerequisite: CSLC 200 and CSLC 283.


4 units

Cross Listed Courses

CSLC 295

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus
  • Pre-1800