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.



HIST 1602: Modern China

Arunabh Ghosh

This lecture course will provide a survey of some of the major issues in the history of post-imperial China (1911- ). Beginning with the decline of the Qing and the dramatic collapse of China’s imperial system in 1911, the course shall examine how China has sought to redefine itself anew over the past one-hundred years. The revolutionary years of 1911, 1949, and 1978 will serve as our three fulcra, as we investigate how China has tussled with a variety of ‘isms’ (such as republicanism, militarism, nationalism, socialism, and ‘state capitalism’) in its pursuit of an appropriate system of governance and social organization. In so doing, we shall also explore the social, economic, cultural, and scientific changes wrought by these varied attempts at state-building.



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

Michael Puett

How should we live our lives? A study and discussion of some of the answers that great Western and Eastern philosophers have given to this question. There are no prerequisites other than a willingness to consider a wide range of philosophical ideas and writings.



SOCWORLD 37: Asian Diasporas

Michael Szonyi

This course aims to help students appreciate the ways in which our world has been shaped by mass migration, and in particular two great currents of migration originating in what is now China and India. These currents of migration and their consequences have never been fully integrated into dominant national historical narratives both in the places from which migrants came and the places to which they went. In the United States, while migration has to some degree become part of the national narrative, it is migration from Europe that is seen as the standard against which other migrations are measured. The course explores many aspects of migration that are mostly unfamiliar: the sophisticated cultural institutions and adaptations among migrant communities, the diverse patterns of interaction in the societies in which migrants settle and their descendants live, and the ways in which migration affects not just migrants themselves, but the communities from which they depart, their descendants, and the larger society in which they settle. Study of migration in historical context reveals that identity is often born of, supported by and constitutive of not a single society or tradition but of multiple societies and traditions. Indeed, identity can be shaped by the very process of migration – even for individuals who do not themselves migrate.







EASTD 195: Fighting Poverty in China: Welfare and Disaster Relief in a Comparative Perspective 

Nara Dillon

The comparative study of welfare, development, and humanitarian relief is usually done within a Eurocentric framework. This approach is hard to avoid when studying the welfare state, which was a European invention that spread to most of the rest of the world. But disaster relief was highly developed in China long before Europe began exporting humanitarian relief. More recently, economic development has lifted millions out of poverty. As an experiment, this research seminar will turn the tables– to try to develop a Sinocentric framework for studying policies to reduce poverty.


GOV 1760: The International Relations of East Asia

Alastair Iain Johnston

Some pundits suggest that the center of political, economic, and normative gravity is shifting from the transatlantic and European area to East Asia. The overall purpose of this course is to describe and explain trends in the levels of political and economic conflict and cooperation in the East Asia region. Possible explanations for these trends include historical memory, changes in the distribution of global and local power, evolving international or regional norms, regional economic development and integration, domestic political change, and demographic and environmental constraints, among factors. 


GOV 1279: Political Economy of East & Southeast Asia

Yuhua Wang

This course examines the interplay between politics and economics in East and Southeast Asia. We will cover a wide range of countries (Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam) and a wide variety of topics (industrialization, colonization, World War II, state-led development, the Asian Financial Crisis, and late development).



CHNSE 166R Chinese in the Humanities: Masterpieces of Modern Chinese Literature

David Der-wei Wang, Jennifer Li-chia Liu

This course is designed to bring students with advanced-low (ILR: 2) level Chinese proficiency to advanced plus (ILR: 2+) or superior (ILR: 3) level language skills. Selected texts are representative works in modern Chinese literature and supplemental glossary and notes provide students with the linguistic resources necessary to interact with, interpret, and present works on topics relevant to the course. Audio-visual materials may be employed to enrich understanding of relevant issues and enhance listening comprehension skills.


CHNSLIT 119: Literature and Politics in Modern China

Max Bohnenkamp

Through the study of a representative selection of literary essays, fiction, poetry and drama, as well as some secondary scholarship on the topic, this course examines how creative expression has been utilized to depict a need for social change, to disseminate radical ideas and to present competing visions of reform and revolution, as well as consider how politics has often subsumed literature in modern China. At the same time, we will consider the nature of literature and creative expression to political aspirations, ideologies and institutions in general, from both sympathetic and critical viewpoints.



CULTBLF 33: East Asian Religions: Traditions and Transformations

James Robson

This course provides an introduction to the study of East Asian religions. It covers the development of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism and Shinto. It is not a comprehensive survey, but is designed around major conceptual themes, such as ritual, image veneration, mysticism, meditation, death, and category formation in the study of religion. The emphasis throughout the course is on the hermeneutic difficulties attendant upon the study of religion in general, and East Asian religions in particular.



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

Nicole Newendorp

Asian Americans are currently the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States. Chinese immigrants, who first began coming in significant numbers to the U.S. around 1850, make up the largest ethnic group of contemporary Asian Americans. In this course, we will focus on the history and contemporary social development 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 day. Our explorations of these experiences will include historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives to focus on major themes such as: the formation early Chinatowns in the late 19th century; the relationship of U.S. immigration policy to the social and economic development of Chinese immigrant communities throughout the 20th century; transnational connections between the U.S. and China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; post-World War II Chinese American activism; and 21st century changes to traditional Chinese migration and settlement patterns in the U.S., including new “satellite” Chinatown communities and ethnoburbs.





Digital Humanitites

CHNSHIS 202: Digital Methods for Chinese Studies

Donald Sturgeon

This course introduces graduate students in Chinese studies to programming skills and digital humanities techniques of direct practical relevance to research in their discipline. It will consist of weekly lectures, each introducing a specific type of technique, followed by an interactive lab session during which students practice applying the technique to data appropriate to their own research. No background in digital methods or programming is assumed, but students are expected to have basic computing skills and are required to bring a suitable laptop to use during the lab sessions. The techniques covered in this course all have broad applicability to topics in Chinese studies, and students will be expected to apply them to their own research topics and relevant texts as arranged during the first few sessions. The course will end with student presentations in which students apply an appropriate selection of the techniques studied to their own research questions.While examples and coursework will draw upon Chinese language source materials, students primarily working with other East Asian languages are also encouraged to take this course.



HIST 2615: Asian Environments (Graduate Seminar in General Education)

Arunabh Ghosh, Sunil Amrith, and Ian Miller 

This course will use the history of Asia, the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region, to illuminate the most urgent environmental issues of our time. Through shared research, in-class debate, and individual inquiry, we will explore Asia’s vexed environmental history, from South and Southeast Asia to Northeast Asia and the receding edge of the Arctic sea ice. Our particular focus will be on the nexus between teaching and research. By the end of the term, you will be ready to create your own course on world environmental history or on the environmental history of Asia.



GOV 2285: Political Science and China

Elizabeth Perry

This is a graduate seminar that requires basic familiarity (i.e., the equivalent of an undergraduate course) with the history and politics of contemporary China. The seminar covers major theoretical and methodological approaches in the field of domestic Chinese politics, with the aim of exploring the strengths and weaknesses of alternative perspectives. Readings and discussion sessions are intended to encourage an interactive dialogue between the study of China and the larger field of comparative politics. We will ask: What insights garnered from the study of other regions of the world might productively be applied to China? And equally important: What lessons drawn from studies of Chinese politics might enrich the analysis of comparative politics more generally?


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

Nara Dillon

What difference does democracy make? What difference does communism make? Both China and India achieved national liberation in the late 1940s as predominantly agricultural and poor societies. From those similar starting points, India established one of the most durable democracies in the developing world and China one of the most durable communist regimes. Their comparison provides a “natural experiment” that allows us to explore some of the big questions of comparative politics: What are the origins of dictatorship and democracy? Do authoritarian regimes have an advantage in engineering economic development? Do democracies achieve better results in social policy? How do ethnic and religious divisions interact with democratic and authoritarian politics? How do these regimes shape each country’s approach to problems such as global warming?



CHNSHIS 253: Topics in Late Imperial History

Mark Elliott, Michael Szonyi 

The aim of this course is to offer an introduction to the field of study that is called in English, “late imperial Chinese history,” that is, history during the period from roughly the mid-14th to the early 20th centuries. By the end of the semester, students should have gained good familiarity with the English-language scholarship, basic familiarity with some of the Chinese-language scholarship, and have developed a solid knowledge of the main historiographical trends from ca. 1950 to the present.


CHNSHIS 201: Intellectual Debates in China Today

Peter Bol, Wang Hui 

The seminar explores different positions that well-known intellectuals are taking around three larger issues: political systems, culture, and individual values/morality. In each area we will look at the divergent arguments that are being advanced and how intellectuals locate themselves in the context of China’s recent intellectual past and, in some cases, China’s intellectual history since ancient times. The undercurrent is the problem of what a “Chinese” identity can be in a global context and whether it is necessary. There will be a combination of common readings to establish issues and individual reports on particular figures and writings.


CHNSHIS 225R: Topics in Middle Period History: Seminar

Peter Bol

This course examines various topics in the political, institutional and intellectual history of middle period China (8th-15th c.) with a focus on the literati as local elites participating in national cultural trends.


MANCHU 210A: Introduction to Sources for Manchu Studies

Mark Elliott

This course introduces a range of Manchu-, Chinese-, and Western-language materials used for research in Manchu studies, both pre- and post-conquest periods (i.e., roughly the period from 1600 to 1912). It is designed primarily with the needs of graduate students in HEAL, History, EALC, and IAAS in mind, but students from other departments and programs are of course welcome.



CHNSLIT 212: Modern Chinese Literary Discourse: A Comparative Survey

David Der-wei Wang

This course aims to investigate modern Chinese literary thought by examining a range of writings, debates, and provocations from the 1910s to the 1960s. The course will guide students to read criticism by figures such as Liang Qichao, Lu Xun, and Wang Guowei; it also calls attention to writings that are less associated with literary criticism, such as those by Zhang Taiyan, Chen Yinke, and Li Zehou. Above all, The course seeks to examine the linkages between these critical discourses with both premodern Chinese literary thought and Western intellectual traditions.


CHNSLIT 231: Late-Ming Literature and Culture

Wai-yee Li

This course surveys writings from second half of sixteenth century until fall of Ming, including prose (including “informal essays”), poetry, drama, fiction. Examines late-Ming literary-aesthetic sensibility (and questions how such a category may be justified.)


CHNSLIT 229R: Topics in Early Medieval Literature

Xiaofei Tian

This semester we focus on early and early medieval Chinese autobiographical writings in a variety of genres, and discusses the definition, history, and theories of autobiography.


CHNSLIT 203: Folklore in the Modern Chinese Cultural Imagination

Max Bohnenkamp

This seminar course examines the role of folklore and notions of cultural authenticity in the construction of modern Chinese literature, performing arts, film and the politics of the nation-state. With the launching of the “Folklore Studies Movement” in the 1910s, Chinese intellectuals discovered new sources for defining their cultural identity in the songs, legends and customs of the countryside. Ever since then, different representations of folk culture have been enlisted to define and question modern life in China, from the appropriation of folklore to create a new literature and the critical study of Chinese society through the lens of folk narratives and beliefs, to the adaptation of folk culture for disseminating revolutionary politics. We will look at folklore itself, sources on the study of folk culture, and modern works of poetry, fiction, film and music to examine the influence of ideas about cultural authenticity on literature, social science and politics in China over the span of the last century.


Public Health

ANTHRO 2855: Deep China: What Medical Anthropology and Psychiatry Contribute to the Study of China Today

Arthur Kleinman 



HDS 3888: Buddhist Studies Seminar: The History of South Asian Buddhist Texts

Janet Gyatso 

This is a seminar for doctoral students planning to take generals exams in Buddhist Studies as well as advanced masters students in the field. It will study the history of Sanskrit and Pali canonical and extra-canonical literature and their commentaries, translations, “canons,” and major schools of interpretation. Foundational modern secondary scholarship will be considered as well, along with the state-of-the-art critical apparatus for Buddhist Studies.


TIBET 153BR: Tibetan Logic and Epistemology

Leonard van der Kuijp

Readings in Mkhan chen Ngag dbang chos grags’ (1572-1641) section on logic and epistemology (tshad ma) of his Pod drug ‘bel gyi gtam and the polemic exchanges that resulted from it.

Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies