FRESHMEN SEMINAR

FRSEMR 61M: The Silk Road as History, Culture, and Politics

Mark Elliott

Description:In 1923, Harvard’s Fogg Museum of Art sought to add to its collections by sending Langdon Warner, the University’s first professor of Asian art, on an expedition to gather objects from the fabled Silk Road – objects that are part of the Museum’s permanent display even today. With this connection as a jumping-off point, the course will explore the history of the ancient trading routes linking East and West and the ways in which different Silk Road narratives have served as cultural and political capital around the world. Warner was in fact following in the footsteps of numerous other Westerners, who had for fifty years been investigating the geography, history, and languages of greater Turkestan (i.e., Central Asia). Who were these men, what drove their curiosity, what did they find, and where is it now? How did the “Silk Road” that they brought into existence come to be such an important part of the popular imagination of the ancient world, and of the ongoing re-imagination of modern geopolitics? In examining these questions, students will learn the skills needed for archival research, get a first-hand introduction to museum preservation, and study current attitudes toward cultural patrimony.

 

FRSEMR 61O: Global Crime Fiction: Tackling Crime, Corruption, and Social Disintegration

Karen Thornber

Crime fiction is one of literature’s most popular genres, with hundreds of millions of fans across the globe. Both local and foreign crime fiction, the latter often in translation, flies off bookshelves from Boston to Barcelona to Beijing and beyond, regardless of whether the novel takes place in a small Swedish village or in multiple cosmopolitan megacities. Why is this? Part of it is in the storytelling. Who can resist a gripping whodunit with unexpected twists and turns and often with an appealing investigator or detective (professional or amateur), particularly if everything is resolved at the end, and often in ways we least expect? But part of the appeal of crime fiction is also the insights this genre can offer into some of the most significant challenges facing societies globally. In this course we will read a selection of bestselling crime fiction from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. We will be most concerned with what this literature tells us about investigating, exposing, and potentially ameliorating historical crimes, environmental crimes, corruption in criminal justice, and social disintegration, particularly as these involve injustices inflicted on marginalized and otherwise vulnerable individuals and communities, people targeted on account of their class, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexuality and other factors. Secondary readings and class discussion will provide the necessary cultural and literary contexts for these readings.

 

 

COURSES PRIMARILY FOR UNDERGRADUATES 

Anthropology 

ANTHRO 92XR: Archaeological Research Methods in Museum Collections

Rowan Flad 

Special (individual) study of Peabody Museum (PM) collections approved by the PM Director and directly supervised by a member of the PM curatorial staff. Requires a project involving a museum collection developed in consultation with the supervisor.

 

Business

SOCWORLD 49: The Worlds of Business in Modern China

William Kirby

China was home to the world’s largest economy two centuries ago. Within two decades it will be the world’s largest economy again. This course uses business as a lens through which to study modern China. Using new Harvard Business School cases, we explore traditional family firms and internet startups; state-owned enterprises and their private-sector challengers; and the catalytic role of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and foreign enterprise in shaping contemporary China. Case studies cast light on larger themes: the role of party and government (national and local) in business and society; the legal environment; and the global impact of China’s development.

 

Environment

SCIPHUNV 25: Energy and Climate: Vision for the Future

Michael McElroy

The climate of our planet is changing at a rate unprecedented in human history. Primarily responsible is the build-up of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, most notably carbon dioxide emitted in conjunction with the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas. Concentrations in the atmosphere of CO2 are higher now than at any time over at least the past 850,000 years, higher arguably than at any time since dinosaurs roamed the planet 50 million years ago. The course will provide a perspective on what we may expect in the way of future climate change if we fail to take action – more violent storms, extremes of precipitation, heat waves, pressures on food production, and an inexorable rise in sea level. It will survey the energy choices available should we elect to take action to minimize future damage to the climate system. Special attention will be directed to the challenges and opportunities confronting China and the US, the world’s two largest current emitters. The overall goal will be to develop a vision for a more sustainable environmental future, one in which energy is supplied not by climate-altering fossils fuels but rather by zero carbon alternatives such as wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal and nuclear.

 

Government

GOV 94CI: Comparing India and China: An Examination of State-Society Relations

Nara Dillon

In the late 1940s, India witnessed a peaceful transition to democracy, while China experienced a Communist revolution. After this divergence, both countries began pursuing market reforms in the effort to accelerate economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s. We will explore the ways in which power has been consolidated and distributed under these very different regimes and the implications this has had for a range of socio-political and economic outcomes, including famine, economic development, and urbanization. Throughout the course we will place India and China in the context of comparative debates about other parts of the developing world.

 

History

HIST 89J: The United States and China: Opium War to the Present

Erez Manela

This research seminar will focus on the history of Sino-American relations and interactions since the Opium War (1840s). It will examine major episodes such as the Boxer intervention, the first and second world wars, the Korea and Vietnam wars, the Mao-Nixon rapprochement, and the post-Mao transformations, and explore central themes such as immigration, trade, culture, diplomacy, and security.

 

Literature

AESTHINT 39: Chinese Stories: Tradition and Transformation

Wai-Yee Li and David Der-wei Wang

What makes a story prevail through time? We will visit the most beloved, enduring works in the Chinese tradition and discover cultural icons from the Handsome Monkey King to the Nobel prize-winning novel Soul Mountain. We will explore the cultural trends and themes that have been the stuff of popular Chinese novels, TV, cinema, and thought. This course offers a comprehensive, yet unique and unconventional window into Chinese tradition and modernity, past and present.

 

Philosophy

SOC-STD 98QH: Ancient Chinese Thought and Modern China

Sungho Kimlee

The Hundred Schools of Thought that flourished during the Warring States period (475 BC – 221 BC) had a profound influence on Chinese culture and society. This course will examine the four major schools of Chinese thought: Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism. The course begins by introducing the key Confucian ideas and concepts. Then it investigates the Mohist, Daoist, and Legalist response to Confucianism. We conclude by discussing the enduring relevance of these philosophical ideas in modern China.The course will focus on close readings of the primary texts. All texts will be read in translation, and no prior knowledge of Chinese philosophy is assumed. This is a junior tutorial.

 

ETHRSON 20: The Conduct of Life in Western and Eastern Philosophy

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Michael Puett, and Cornel West

A study of approaches in the philosophical traditions of the West and the East to the conduct of life. Philosophical ethics has often been understood as meta-ethics: the development of a method of moral inquiry or justification. Here we focus instead on what philosophy has to tell us about the first-order question: How should we live our lives?

 

Social Studies

SOC-STD 68CT: The Chinese Immigrant Experience in America

Nicole Newendorp

Uses the history of Boston’s Chinatown as a case study to examine the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. from the 1880s until the present. Employs historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives to examine major themes related to the social and economic development of U.S. Chinatowns and Chinese immigrant communities throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. This course is an Engaged Scholarship course, limited to students who are concurrently participating in a Harvard-affiliated service program in or around Boston’s Chinatown. Class discussions and assignments will make active links with students’ service work. Open to students in all concentrations.

 

 

COURSES FOR UNDERGRADUATES AND GRADUATE STUDENTS

Anthropology

ANTHRO 1732: China Through Ethnography and Film

Susan Greenhalgh

The rapid rise of China on the global stage is one of the most stunning developments of our time. Since the early 1980’s, when China reopened its doors to research by foreign scholars, growing numbers of anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork in the People’s Republic. What have anthropologists learned about the transformations underway there? What new constructs and field strategies does the anthropology of China have to contribute to anthropology generally? In this course we seek answers in film and ethnography. Following existing emphases in the literature, we will focus on issues of transformation in governance, subjectivity, and difference in a nation under an increasingly neoliberal regime.

 

Digital Humanities 

EASTD 110: East Asian Digital Humanities

Donald Sturgeon

This course provides students with a foundational background in digital humanities concepts and methods in the context of East Asian studies. The course will introduce a range of digital techniques widely applicable to the study of the historical and contemporary language, literature, history, and culture of East Asia, covering both how to apply these techniques in practice as well as how to critically evaluate their use. Key concepts will be introduced in lecture sessions, then reinforced and applied concretely during corresponding practical sessions and take-home assignments associated with each individual topic covered.No background in digital methods is assumed, however students are expected to have basic computing skills and are required to bring a suitable laptop to use during the lab sessions. As the course will deal directly with East Asian language primary source materials, students are required to have a working knowledge of at least one East Asian language. While the majority of practical techniques and all of the principles introduced are applicable to East Asian languages generally, these will primarily be introduced using Chinese language examples.

 

Economics

ECON 1310: The Economy of China

Richard Cooper

This course critically examines China’s remarkable economic performance in the post-Mao era and places this performance in historical and comparative context. Topics covered include China’s economic structure, institutions, inequality, trade, population, and public policy.

 

Government

EASTD 122: Political Economy of China’s Rapid Growth

Nara Dillon

How has China achieved high economic growth rates for more than 35 years? Have the post-Mao economic reforms created a market economy, or a new form of state capitalism? To answer these questions, this interdisciplinary social science course will explore the causes and consequences of China’s market reforms, placing the Chinese experience in comparative perspective.

 

GOV 1982: Chinese Foreign Policy, 1949-2017

Alastair Iain Johnston

Introduction to the descriptive history of China’s international relations with special focus on different theoretical explanations for changes in foreign policy behavior (e.g. polarity, history, ideology, leadership, bureaucracy, among others).

 

History

EASTD 170: Medicine and the Body in East Asia and in Europe

Shigehisa Kuriyama

Why is there a history to medicine? It is generally assumed that the anatomy and physiology of the body in fifth century BCE Greece, say, or second century CE China are no different from those of our own bodies here and now. What explains, then, such distinctions as Greek medicine and Chinese medicine, traditional medicine and modern medicine? How can we understand the striking differences in the beliefs and practices of diverse medical periods and traditions, when we believe the body to be one and unique? This may be the most fundamental puzzle of medical history.

 

HIST 1610: Environment: China, Japan, Korea

Ian Miller

The future is not what it used to be. Nowhere is this more evident than in the natural world, where climate change and fading biodiversity, energy anxieties and environmental disasters have undermined the bedrock of history: the assumption of a stable continuity between past, present, and future. This class visits East Asia—China, Japan, and the Koreas, vibrant economies and agents of historical change, to explore the transformation of the natural world in modern times. We will analyze nuclear power plants and cruise rivers, explore industrial ruins and debate public policy as we define Asia’s role in the global environmental future.

 

HIS 4344: Modern Architecture and Urbanism in China

Peter Rowe

Modernizing influences, largely from the hands of foreign powers, first forcefully entered China in the aftermath of the Opium War and signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. Since then, China endured a stormy if not tumultuous course of events before finding itself with burgeoning modern industrialization and urbanization during the contemporary era, as well as a certain ambivalence about the shape of its future identity. Against this historical backdrop, modern architecture and urbanism developed spasmodically, before emerging strongly during the past decade or so. Rather than attempting to provide a continuous and cohesive narrative of these developments, this seminar will concentrate on significant episodes during the last 150 or so years. Of particular interest will be the work of several generations of Chinese architects, planners, and public officials, as well as that of foreign architects and planners, working in China during various periods. The aim of the course will be to introduce students to this modern work and underlying attitudes, together with cultural influences, which lay behind them. Students will be expected to be prepared for seminar discussion, by undertaking prescribed readings, and to produce an article-length research paper on a pertinent topic.

 

CHNSHIS 113: Society and Culture of Late Imperial China

Michael Szonyi

This course is a survey of the social and cultural history of China from the Song to the mid-Qing (roughly from 1000 to 1800). The main topics discussed include urbanization and commerce; gender; family and kinship; education and the examination system, and religion and ritual. The main goal of the course will be to explore the relationship between social and cultural changes and political and intellectual developments.

 

Language

Chinese in the Social Sciences: Chinese History 113: Late Imperial China

Jennifer Li-Chia Liu

Advanced language practice through the reading and analysis of authentic academic texts in social science disciplines (e.g., history, politics, sociology, economics). May be offered independently in Chinese, or linked with an English-language content course. Specific content varies by year.

 

 

COURSES PRIMARILY FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS

Art History

HAA 282E: Buddhist Cave Visualization

Eugene Wang

The caves at Dunhuang are among the largest Buddhist cave complexes in the world, spanning the fourth to the fourteenth century. With 492 caves decorated with murals and sculptures, Dunhuang is the largest art gallery in situ in the world. The course explores the visual programs of Dunhuang caves. The disparate textual sources on which the murals are based do not explain their convergence in the same cave. A deep logic of world-making binds them together. Using available digital reconstructions that proffer spatial experience of the Dunhuang caves, we address some key questions: how do disparate murals add up? How does the cave visualize and stage the Buddhist mental cosmos?

 

HAA 289S: Buddhist Monuments of the World

Yukio Lippit, Eugene Wang, Jinah Kim

This graduate seminar examines architectural monuments of the Buddhist world, including sites in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Central Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. It is intended to develop an introductory lecture course that will be taught the following academic year. Themes for exploration include cosmology, pilgrimage, ritual, materiality, relics, meditation, world-making, and the relationship between Buddhism and local religions.

 

Business

HBSMBA 1575: Doing Business in China 2025

William Kirby

This course is located at Harvard Business School, and is not available to auditors.

 

Government

DPI 450: The Political Economy of Transition in China

Tony Saich

China’s incremental reforms have been compared favorably as a transition strategy with the “shock therapy” attempted in Eastern Europe and Russia. Reality is more complex, progress is mixed, and the country is now facing major challenges from delayed reforms, especially in the industrial and financial sectors. How are the state’s priorities set? Relevant theories on socioeconomic development and transitions will be analyzed through a detailed study of the policymaking process in China. China provides an interesting empirical testing ground for comparative theory, as it has moved from a statist model of development to one that makes greater use of market forces within an authoritarian political structure. The course first evaluates China’s evolving development strategies. Second, it analyzes the politics of the current transition, with detailed discussion of economic and social policy formulation and implementation.

 

GOV 2285: Political Science and China

Elizabeth J. Perry

This graduate seminar gives students control over the secondary literature on Chinese politics, with special attention to competing theoretical and methodological approaches.

 

DPI 452: Restless Empire: The Past, Present, and Future of Chinese Power

Odd Arne Westad

At the beginning of the 21st century, China is moving ever closer to the center of international affairs. This course traces the country’s complex foreign relations over the past 250 years, identifying the forces that will determine its path in the decades to come. Since the height of the Qing Empire in the 18th century, China’s confrontation with foreign powers have caused its world view to fluctuate between feelings of dominance and subjugation, emulation and defiance. From the invasion of Burma in the 1760s to the Boxer Rebellion in the early 20th century and the rivalry with the United States in eastern Asia today, many of these encounters have left the Chinese with a sense of humiliation and resentment, and have inflamed their notions of justice, hierarchy, and China’s regional centrality. This course is essential for anyone wishing to understand the recent past and probable future of this dynamic and complex country.

 

History

CHNSHIS 270A: Research Methods in Late Imperial Chinese History I: Seminar

Mark Elliott

Training in the use of a wide array of sources, methods, and reference tools for research in the history of late imperial China, focusing upon the reading and analysis of different types of Qing-era documents, official and unofficial. Students will write a research paper using documents provided in class. Reading knowledge of modern and literary Chinese required.

 

EASTD 211: Historical Theory and Methods

Shigehisa Kuriyama

Theories and methods for research in East Asian history. Covers approaches to social, cultural, intellectual, and political history, analyzing significant works in each field and applications to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean materials.

 

TIBET 227: History of Tibetology: Seminar

Leonard van der Kuijp 

This course is designed as a seminar that focuses on the historical development of Tibetan Studies in Europe, East Asia, and North America. Leading figures in the field belonging to the nineteenth to the early twenty-first century will be identified, their oeuvre will be discussed and analyzed, and bibliographies will be compiled and distributed.

 

Law

HLS 1012: Comparative Law: Why Law? Lessons from China (only open to HLS first-year and LLM students)

William Alford

This course uses the example of China as a springboard for asking fundamental questions about the nature of law, and the ways in which it may (or may not) differ in different societies. Historically, China is said to have developed one of the world’s great civilizations while according law a far less prominent role than in virtually any other. This course will test that assertion by commencing with an examination of classic Chinese thinking about the role of law in a well-ordered society and a consideration of the nature of legal institutions, formal and informal, in pre-20th century China–all in a richly comparative setting. It will then examine the history of Sino-Western interaction through law, intriguing and important both in itself and for the broader inquiry into which it opens concerning the transmission of ideas of law cross culturally. The remainder (and bulk) of the course will use the effort in the People’s Republic of China to build a legal system–said by some to be the most extensive such effort in world history–to ask what it means to build a legal order. Simply stated, what is central and why, what is universal and what culturally specific and why, and so forth? It is intended to be inviting to individuals both with and without prior study of China.

 

HLS 2650: Engaging China

Alonso Emery

This course focuses on the role of lawyers in shaping relations between China and the United States. Students will consider theoretical approaches to international negotiation, while also participating in more experiential, interactive exercises that include case studies and simulations. The intention is to hold several joint sessions through video conference with students and faculty at Renmin University of China Law School in Beijing who will join us periodically to discuss the reading and participate in negotiation simulations.

Admission to the course is by permission of the instructor. Prospective students should email Alonzo Emery (aemery@law.harvard.edu) their CV along with a note (one page maximum) outlining their interest in the course and any relevant experience.

 

HLS 2132: International Trade Law

Mark Wu

This course focuses on the law governing international trade as established by the World Trade Organization. It engages in an in-depth analysis of WTO rules and case law. The class will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the existing regime and discuss the difficulties in reforming the system. Besides focusing on the basic principles governing trade in goods and services, the course will also examine specialized areas such as technical standards, agriculture, food safety, subsidies, trade remedy measures, and intellectual property. In addition, the course will focus on the geopolitcal tensions between major trading powers, particularly with respect to the US, EU, and the emerging powers (China, India, Brazil). Finally, depending on political developments, the course will engage with new trade rules as shaped in mega-regional agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

 

Language

MANCHU 120B: Advanced Manchu

Mark Elliott

Intensive reading in Manchu archival materials, other historical texts and literary texts. Some texts in pre-diacritical form. English to Manchu translation exercises.

 

UYGHUR 300: Readings in Uyghur Language and Literature

Mark Elliott

Guided readings in advanced Uyghur-language texts. May be repeated for credit.

 

Literature

TIBET 236B: Readings in Sa skya Pandita’s (1182-1251) Sdom gsum rab dbye

Leonard van der Kuijp 

This is a continuation of TIBET 236A. Readings in Sa skya Pandita’s (1182-1251) Sdom gsum rab dbye and its commentarial literature. This course will examine issues that relate to the three vows and the ways in which various authors chose to interpret them.

 

CHNSLIT 266R: Topics in Ancient Literature

Stephen Owen

Reading Chuci and associated works from the Western Han, with attention to the religious and political underpinnings.

 

CHNSLIT 267R: Topics in Tang Literature: Seminar

Xiaofei Tian

The focus for the spring semester is Tang tales.

 

CHNSLIT 242: From Fiction into History

David Der-wei Wang

This seminar deals with the dialogics between historical dynamics and literary manifestation at select moments of twentieth century China. It focuses on two themes: history and representation; modernity and monstrosity.

 

Religion

HDS 3830: Studying Buddhism Across Time and Place

Janet Gyatso

This class studies the basic elements of Buddhist thought, practice, and historical communities, and their vision of the nature of human experience and flourishing. We will study Buddhist classic writings as well as later literary gems from South, Central and East Asia on the nature of meditation, discipline, and creativity. Key themes of our readings are the relationship between self and other, the education of the emotions, paths of self-cultivation, and the (im)possibility of perfection. We will be especially attentive to how the approach to such things has shifted as Buddhism spread through Asia, and more recently to the rest of the world, as in its reception by the Transcendentalists, the Beat poets, and socially engaged religion. Throughout the course we will consider the relevance of this material to our own views of the world and how we should lead our lives.

Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies