China-related Courses at Harvard, Fall 2024 Semester

Harvard offers a wide range of courses on China and Chinese Studies from across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional schools. Check out our guide to courses for undergraduate and graduate students for the Fall 2024 semester. (See graduate-level courses below.)

Language Courses

Harvard offers language courses at all levels in ChaghatayMandarin ChineseManchuMongolian, and Uyghur through the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Classical Tibetan and Colloquial Tibetan are offered through the Department of South Asian Studies. Other languages like Taiwanese/Southern Min are offered subject to petition and instructor availability.

For current details, be sure to check the Harvard Course Catalog:

Fall 2024: For Undergraduates and Graduate Students

Course ID Course Title Course Description 
ANTHRO 1877 

Anthropology of Chinese Culture and Society 

Elisa Tamburo 
This course will enable students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the recent history and contemporary society, culture, and politics of China through ethnographic writings. We will read contemporary ethnographies on China and reflect on how anthropologists have engaged with aspects of its longstanding history, culture, and society.
CHNSHIS 234R The Historiography of Early Chinese History

Michael Puett
A study of major trends in the history of scholarship on early China. The main focus will be on 20th-century scholarship, but earlier developments will be introduced where relevant.
CHNSHIS 253 Topics in Late Imperial History

Mark Elliott, Michael Szonyi
Review of historical scholarship on China from roughly 1500 to the early 20th century. This course is designed to aid in preparations for the general examinations and in developing a dissertation topic.

Cultural Theories and Practices, 8th-14th Century 

Peter Bol
The course investigates changes in the status and practice of wenxue文學, broadly conceived, from after the An Lushan rebellion in the mid-eighth century to the formal inclusion of Daoxue 道学 in the civil service examination in the fourteenth century.
CHNSLIT 114Introduction to Premodern Chinese Literature

Xiaofei Tian
This course will introduce students to the best-known writers and canonical works of Chinese literature from the premodern period.

The Monster That Is History: History, Violence, and the Politics of Writing

David Wang
This is an intermediate level course (100 level for both undergraduate and graduate students) that seeks to delineate the multivalence of Chinese violence across the modern century and inquire into its ethical and political consequences. Taking into account the campaigns of violence and brutality that have rocked generations of Chinese―often in the name of enlightenment, rationality, and utopian plenitude―this course places its arguments along two related axes: history and representation, modernity and monstrosity.
CHNSLIT 229RTopics in Early Medieval Literature

Xiaofei Tian
This semester will focus on writings from the Northern and Southern Dynasties, with emphasis on historiography, geographical works, anomaly accounts, and poetic genres.
CHNSLIT 231Late-Ming Literature and Culture

Wai-yee Li
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.)
GENED 1091 Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory

Michael Puett
What if many of our assumptions about the self and about how to live fully are limiting and even dangerous, and what other possibilities might we be able to find in classical Chinese philosophy? What is the best way to live a fuller and more ethical life? Concretely what should we do to begin to live in a more flourishing and inspiring way? Questions such as these were at the heart of philosophical debates in China. The answers that classical Chinese thinkers developed in response to these questions are among the most powerful in human history. Regardless of whether one agrees with them or not, they should be studied and taken seriously by anyone who cares about ethics, politics, and the ways to live life more fully.
GENED 1111Popular Culture and Modern China

David Wang
This course examines “popular culture” as a modern, transnational phenomenon and explores its manifestation in Chinese communities (in People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and North America) and beyond. From pulp fiction to film, from “Yellow Music” to “Model Theater”, from animations to internet games, the course looks into how China became modern by participating in the global circulation of media forms, and how China helps in her own way enrich the theory and practice of “popular culture.”
GENED 1136Power and Civilization: China

Peter Bol, William Kirby
What does China’s past mean for its and your future as China once again becomes the most powerful nation on earth? This course explores how the world’s largest and oldest bureaucratic state has dealt with enduring problems of economic and political organization. It will show how even modern answers to these challenges bear the imprint of China’s history.  We will explore intellectual and religious trends, material and political culture, the tension between local society and the center, art and literature, and China’s multiple economic and political transformations. 
GOV 1280Government & Politics of China

Yuhua Wang
This course is a broad introduction to the main issues of contemporary Chinese politics and social change. The course is divided into two sections:  the first section covers the period from the end of the last imperial dynasty to the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976.  The second section examines the last thirty years of economic reform, looking at both how the reforms began and how they were sustained.
 GOV 1982 Chinese Foreign Policy, 1949-2024

 Alastair 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).
HIST 2639 

Histories of Modern China: Research Seminar

Arunabh Ghosh 
In this research seminar students will have the opportunity to explore new works in modern (twentieth century) Chinese history and develop and present their own research, culminating in a 25-35 page research paper. Designed for students working on their doctoral or masters theses, the course is open to anyone interested in writing a research paper using primary sources in Chinese (additional languages welcome too, of course!).
FYSEMR 61MSilk Road Stories

Mark Elliott
The words “Silk Road” conjure up images of camel caravans crossing vast deserts and traversing lofty mountains with precious cargoes of textiles and porcelain. From ancient Chinese travelers and intrepid Buddhist pilgrims to plucky Venetians, swashbuckling Swedes, and adventurous Americans, the Silk Road has produced countless storytellers with enchanting accounts of “East meets West.” The course aims to introduce you to the history of what we know as the Silk Road and to problematize that history in various ways; to expose you to the idea that globalization is a process with no beginning and no end; to challenge you to think about the role of culture in society and politics yesterday and today; and to persuade you that travel is the only way out of the prison of our own consciousness. Open to first-year students only.

Fall 2024: For Graduate Students

SchoolCourse IDCourse TitleCourse Description
FASHAA 286GEast Asian Portraiture

Yukio Lippit
The class meets once a week and is open to students from all programs at the GSD as well as students from other departments within the university. This course examines the history of East Asian portraiture. Limited to graduate students, and knowledge of Chinese or Japanese is required.
GSDADV 9127Real Estate and City Making in China

Bing Wang
Real estate has increasingly become a compelling force in the process of city making, one uniquely capable of leading and guiding multiple steps in the construct of vital urbanism: from conceiving an idea to constructing complex structures; from sourcing funding to creating master-planned communities; and from negotiating design forms to implementing urban public realms. This course, conducted as a research seminar, focuses on the interdependence between real estate and city making. It addresses both theoretical and empirical investigations on the concepts and paradigms that have shaped and are still shaping real estate practices and their impact on contemporary Chinese cities. It analyzes emergent real estate and urban development strategies, their respective financing structures, underlying domain expertise and urban organizational hierarchy. The class meets once a week and is open to students from all programs at the GSD as well as students from other departments within the university. 
HBSHBSMBA 1515Unpacking the US-China Rivalry

Andy Zelleke
The US-China bilateral relationship is in its worst shape since the two nations normalized diplomatic relations in 1979. The deterioration in Sino-American relations, and the intensely competitive rivalry that has developed, have important implications for the rest of the world, including the business sector. This course has three principal goals: (i) to leave students with a significantly better understanding of this most consequential bilateral relationship, holistically and across the multiple dimensions of the rivalry; (ii) to expose students to a diversity of perspectives, encouraging them to challenge and refine their own; and (iii) to engage students in creative ideation toward progress—as they define that—in some aspect of the US-China relationship.
HLSHLS 2650Engaging China

William Alford, Steven Wang
This seminar will focus on the myriad of legal and related policy questions that are central to the U.S.-P.R.C. relationship. Earlier iterations of this class have addressed issues regarding trade, human rights, technology transfer, corporate governance, climate change, corruption, foreign direct and portfolio investment, disability, Taiwan, competing visions of law and development (as played out in Africa),  and the role of lawyers. We anticipate covering a similar set of topics next fall, and may also delve into AI, sanctions, and law of the sea, among other topics.
HLSHLS 2129The Comparative Law Workshop

William Alford, Idriss Fofana
This workshop will engage key questions in comparative law, using as focal points the study of African and Chinese and other Asian legal systems (including Islamic law), and legal history. Students will read examples of influential scholarship in each field both for their importance and as a vehicle for thinking about methodological issues in comparative work in general.  Students will also have the opportunity to engage several leading  scholars in each field, as well as scholars earlier in their career, who will present works-in-progress. Students considering taking the Workshop should attend the first class even if not formally enrolled.