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 fall 2022.
Harvard offers language courses at all levels in Chaghatay, Mandarin Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, 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.
Courses Primarily for Undergraduates
David Yang, ECON 1133
The rise of China is undoubtedly one of the great dramas of the 21st century. This course provides an overview of China’s economy and its politics, as well as China’s relationship with the world. We aim to understand modern China with an appreciation of China’s past and its connection to other parts of the globe.
The course offers insights on a number of puzzles of a rising authoritarian superpower, and overturns several conventional wisdoms in political economy. In the course, you will learn about topics such as: (1) What drives China’s economic development? What explains its rise? (2) What are the key forces of stability and forces of change in modern China? (3) How does China engage with the world, and what are the implications of China’s rise for the world?
The objectives of the course are three-fold: (1) to learn about important institutional and contextual knowledge of China; (2) to use China as a lens to understand authoritarian regimes, as well as basic political economy frameworks that are more generally applicable; and (3) to learn about empirical methods through exposure to big data on China, frontier academic research, and occasionally case-study style discussions.
Michael McElroy, ESPP 90N
The seminar will discuss the nature of the climate challenge and the implications it poses for different communities and different parts of the world. Mitigating negative impacts of human induced climate change will require an urgent transition from the current global fossil fuel-based energy economy to one based on renewable alternatives. Possibilities include wind, solar, hydro, biomass and potentially nuclear. The seminar will review options with specific attention to differences in the challenges faced by developed economies such as the US and Europe and large developing economies such as China, India and parts of Africa. Can we chart a feasible path to net zero global carbon emissions by 2050?
Michael J. Puett, GENED 1091
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.
The rise of China is undoubtedly one of the great dramas of the 21st century. This course provides an overview of China’s economy and its politics, as well as China’s relationship with the world. We aim to understand modern China with an appreciation of China’s past and its connection to other parts of the globe. The course offers insights on a number of puzzles of a rising authoritarian superpower, and overturns several conventional wisdoms in political economy. In the course, you will learn about topics such as: (1) What drives China’s economic development? What explains its rise? (2) What are the key forces of stability and forces of change in modern China? (3) How does China engage with the world, and what are the implications of China’s rise for the world? The objectives of the course are three-fold: (1) to learn about important institutional and contextual knowledge of China; (2) to use China as a lens to understand authoritarian regimes, as well as basic political economy frameworks that are more generally applicable; and (3) to learn about empirical methods through exposure to big data on China, frontier academic research, and occasionally case-study style discussions.
How can a globalizing world of differing countries – rich and poor, democratic and authoritarian – best promote inclusive growth and human security by meeting the challenges of inequality, climate change, rising populism, war, and global disease?Why is populism becoming pervasive – and is there a revolt against global integration? What is the right balance between national sovereignty and international integration? Is the US equipped to sustain its role as a global leader? How does international trade affect prosperity and inequality? Should we regulate multi-national companies who move their factories to countries with lower labor standards? How should the IMF respond to financial crises in Europe and the developing world? How will the rise of China change the world system? This course uses basic economic logic to illuminate the choices – and trade-offs – faced by governments, international institutions, businesses, and citizens as the global economy evolves. Our course is based on the premise that passion without careful reason is dangerous and that reliance on solid analytics and rigorous empirical evidence will lead to a better world. Policy issues are debated in class by the professors and guest speakers, and students will participate in simulated negotiations on US climate policy and the US-China economic relationship, experiencing the issues firsthand, as well as illustrating the importance of decisions made by individual actors for the evolution of the global system.
Arunabh Ghosh, HIST 1602
This lecture course will provide a survey of some of the major issues in the history of post-imperial China (1912- ). 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.
C.-T. James Huang, FRSEMR 33R
This seminar offers an opportunity to learn about the Chinese language, by observing and analyzing its linguistic structure, history, cultural tradition and social relevance. With a partially hands-on approach, we shall look at the fundamental principles that make up the sound system and govern the grammar of Mandarin, with particular attention to those features that distinguish Chinese from English and other languages, including its system of tones, its writing system, its word-order and syntactic patterns, and how the language has developed in over 2000 years of its recorded history. Looking deeper, we see how the study of Chinese may contribute to our understanding of language as a central component of human cognition. The seminar is designed for students with some experience of the Chinese language (e.g., with some prior formal instruction or as heritage speakers of Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect). The analytical skills acquired will be of use as an aid to improve on one’s proficiency, or in preparing for study in linguistics, translation, East Asian study, and/or artificial intelligence.
Erez Manela, HIST 89J
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.
Daniel Koss, EASTD 198
East Asia has been home to an astonishing assortment of political parties, covering the spectrum from democratic to authoritarian institutions, including some of the world’s most sophisticated and resilient political organizations. We begin with China’s Communist Party, revisiting its foundation in 1921, its rise during the Sino-Japanese War 1937-45,
and its transformation from a revolutionary party to a party in power; then turn to the present day to cover the deep reach of the party into society, the activities and functions of ordinary members, as well as the dynamics of the leading echelons. The second part of the course focuses on Japan, including the origins of political parties in the late 19th century, the post-War emergence of the perennial ruling party, the age of grand money politics under Tanaka Kakuei, the electoral reform of 1993, and the origins of the party’s current strength. The third part consists of case studies, covering contemporary parties in North and South Korea, parties in Taiwan before and after the democratic transition, as well as parties in Malaysia and Vietnam, with their multiple connections to East Asia. The course also puts East Asian parties into a comparative perspective to other world regions.
Courses Primarily for Graduate Students
Eugene Wang, HAA 283K
Arts in early China have a distinct disposition. They are also highly integrated. Subsumed under the governing notion of yue, they typically cohere into tightly choreographed mise-en-scenes, encompassing music, dance, props, and ritual paraphernalia in a variety of media, and often arranged in complex physical structures. A syncretic imperative governs the orchestration of material media. Focusing on early tombs that yield a variety of artifacts–including figurines playing the roles of musicians and dancers–the course seeks to uncover the organizing principle behind the syncretic art and the vision of the imaginary cosmos mapped out therein.
Jie Li, EAFM 222
This graduate seminar examines the changing mediascape in China from the 1950s to the present. Every week, we will focus on one or two different media forms or technologies, from propaganda posters, photography, cinema, radio, loudspeakers, cassettes, to television, video, Internet, surveillance systems, and digital platforms. We will ask question such as: How have mass media represented and transformed Chinese culture, history, and society? To what extent was the Chinese revolution a media revolution, and is there a media revolution going on now? How have various media served propaganda and surveillance, facilitated grassroots activism and creativity, circulated as commodities or connected communities? How have media technologies affected perception, experiences, and memories of socialism and postsocialism, as well as the aesthetics, ethics and everyday practices of every decade? What might be specific or special about each medium, and how have different types of media interacted in the Chinese context?
David Yang, ECON 2921
William Alford, HLS 2650
This one unit course will examine the role that China has been playing in a world order in flux. Models of development, trade, and rights are among the areas likely to be addressed. We will consider, inter alia, China’s engagement of existing global norms, ways in which China may (or may not) now or in the foreseeable future be shaping such norms, and their impact on China. The intention is to hold three of our likely six 2-hour sessions of the class jointly with a comparable class at Renmin University of China, via electronic means — hence, our evening meeting times. Each session will cover a specific topic. In past years topics have included trade, law and development, rights (through the prism of disability rights), the legal profession, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, climate change, foreign investment, and the roles of the US and China in Africa – with the precise configuration from among these to be determined closer to the start of the semester. We have each year done with a mock negotiation jointly with students from Renmin University School of Law and hope to do so again in AY 22-23.
Please note from Professor Alford; Since launching the Engaging China Reading Group in 2013, the class annually has included several joint meetings (electronically) with a counterpart class at Renmin University of China’s School of Law. Unfortunately, that will not be possible this year, owing to matters beyond HLS’s control. I will, however, endeavor to capture some of what we would have gained through those joint sessions in a variety of ways, including drawing on our own talented student body, some very interesting visitors and simulations. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Lobsang Sangay, HLS 3182
This Reading Group will focus on the question of and solutions for Tibet. It will look at the historical status of Tibet and the current situation of the Tibetan people. The class will examine the guarantees and practices of national minority rights under the Constitution of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China in light of international human rights standards. Do China’s guarantees respecting national minority rights meet international standards regarding the right to self-determination or the protection of minorities. Might reference to the rights of indigenous people be helpful? The approach of the seminar will be to interrogate the best ways to address these issues and find solutions. We will look at the evolution and major changes in the stand of the Dalai Lama from seeking independence, to what he has described as a zone of peace for Tibet, and finally to “genuine autonomy for Tibetan people” within the framework of the Constitution of the PRC. His efforts have included nine rounds of dialogue between envoys of the Dalai Lama and the PRC government. We will also explore comparative issues of Hong Kong and Xinjiang to understand PRC approaches toward regional autonomy . The Reading Group will also explore the unique approach of the Dalai Lama in developing a democratic polity in exile, as well as complex religious issues relating to reincarnation and religious freedom. Finally, we will examine the US Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 to understand the role of the US government in respect of political, diplomatic and legal obligations relating to Tibet and its people.
Bing Wang, ADV 9127
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.
A country like China is at once experiencing rapid urbanization while undergoing unprecedented transformation in the mechanism of city making: the forces of real estate and the shifting roles played by public and private sectors are constantly challenging conventional city building models, while defining and redefining their positions in the production of the built environment.
This course 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. Thus, the pedagogical approaches of the course are as following:
1. to introduce students to frameworks in approaching an unfamiliar real estate market
2. to familiarize students with many aspects of real estate issues, especially those intersected with physical urban design and planning methods and perspectives
3. to expose students the linkage between real estate and city making parameters using China as a case study
Students will work independently and in teams on selected themes to identify critical forces in real estate development and investment: how key real estate players, domestic or international, have formed their central business strategies, interacted with capital markets, and participated in the city-making process to facilitate and drive the formation of the built environment; and how emergent private sector leaders are integrating human capital, financial capital, and design intelligence, to reshape the form and composition of urban centers within China and beyond. With the investigative research framework set at the beginning of the semester and guided by the instructor’s lectures each week, students will proceed to examine the city making process through the lens of real estate, design, planning, finance, and land ownership structure, in parallel with readings and class discussions, to anticipate the trajectory of contemporary real estate development and city making.
Ziyun Deng, EDU A837
The course aims to establish a common platform on which students with diverse national, political, or linguistic backgrounds can co-explore fundamental and critical issues in education. Course topics range from early childhood through K-12 and higher education with cases from the public and private sectors. Each topic is controversial in the U.S. and/or China (e.g., How academic should preschool education be? What role should private tutoring have in K-12 education planning? Should students’ race/ethnicity be considered in college admissions?) yet its intricacies in the respective country need to be decoded through historical vision and cultural proficiency. Students will be introduced to the cross-national contexts via research papers, policy documents, news reports, and social media snippets, etc. Course sessions are anchored in classroom discussions which are closely organized around assigned readings (and/or videos), lectures, group work, and hands-on activities. Students will learn how to: a) unpack the heatedly domestic debates from a refreshing, international perspective; b) reveal the presupposed background knowledge, embedded values, and hidden assumptions of communicative norms in understanding a given education system; c) effectively listen to, examine, and respond to contradictory information or opinions in generating arguments. In the final project, students will write a synthesis paper or a memo on one of the covered topics (or propose a new topic) situated in the U.S., China, or another region of their choice. This course is to prepare aspiring leaders of educational research, policy, or practice with global perspectives.
Daniel Koss, EASTD 197
This course introduces a cataclysmic movement that brought the People’s Republic of China to the brink of anarchy: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The first part looks at historical precursors, including rebellion in the imperial era, political movements in the Republican Era, Communist campaigns and purges, as well as the Great Leap Forward famine that cost tens of millions of lives. Paying equal attention to elite politics at Mao Zedong’s “court” and the lived experiences of ordinary citizens, the second part focuses on the evolution of the turmoil, once Mao had called for “bombarding the headquarters” of his own party state, discussing the “Gang of Four,” the “attempted coup” by Lin Biao, the Red Guards and the worker rebels in Shanghai, local power seizures and factional warfare, military crackdowns, and the return to order. The third part begins with the reception of the movement abroad, and focuses on its afterlives, including the quasi- pluralist lessons drawn in the immediate aftermath, the role of Cultural Revolution legacies in decisions such as the violent crackdown on the Tiananmen protesters in 1989, and memory politics under Xi Jinping. No language requirement.
Andy Zelleke, HBSMBA 1515
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 module-length course has two principal goals: (i) to leave students with a significantly better understanding of this most consequential bilateral relationship, and of the multiple dimensions of the rivalry; and (ii) to expose students to a range of perspectives, encouraging them to challenge and refine their own.
Among the rivalry dimensions on which class sessions will focus are the competitions (i) of economies and political systems; (ii) for national security; (iii) for technology leadership; and (iv) for “global leadership” (as each principal conceives it). The course will be reading-intensive. It will not be case-based. It will emphasize practitioner-oriented readings (e.g. articles from Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy; Council on Foreign Relations, Brookings, RAND and Belfer Center reports; book chapters; speeches, transcripts and official policy statements); along with a few articles from scholarly journals. The course will also feature guest speakers (1-2 of whom may need to be scheduled outside class hours to accommodate speaker schedules/time zones). Assigned readings and guest speakers will represent a diversity of views. The course aims to help students further refine the substantive world views they will have been developing at HBS, while enhancing capacity for perspective-taking and empathy.
Students will likely find that the course will afford them an opportunity to productively draw on concepts and frameworks from multiple HBS courses they will have taken.
A broad range of students should find this course interesting and relevant. Among them: those for whom the subject matter is intrinsically fascinating; those who expect that Sino-American geopolitics may significantly impact the broad context of their professional lives; and those whose careers (e.g. in strategy consulting, corporate leadership, equity investing) may be still more directly shaped by the evolution of this pivotal bilateral relationship.
Henry Lee, IGA 413M
This module will look at the challenges and opportunities of transitioning from a dependence on fossil fuels to an economy reliant on low carbon energy sources. The module will focus on the electricity systems, buildings, and transportation in the context of the United States, China, and India. Students will be asked to develop recommendations on what should be done between 2023 and 2032 to accelerate the deployment of low carbon energy options to meet the Paris targets.
Thomas Kelly, CHNSLIT 290
This graduate seminar explores recent developments in, and considers new approaches to, the study of early modern Chinese literature (1573–1723). We will pay particular attention to the relationship between literary strategies of worldmaking and the act and materials of writing in this period of profound societal upheaval. Reading across a range of genres (prose, fiction, poetry, and drama), our discussions will examine: 1) the interplay between narrative and memory; 2) shifting relations between word, image, and performance; 3) literary visions of alternative realities and conceptions of the virtual.
Arunabh Ghosh, HIST 2638
This Pro-Seminar will examine developments in the field of modern Chinese history, with a particular focus on the twentieth century. Our principal goal is to gain some familiarity with the historical debates and methodological approaches that have given shaped to the field. Readings will aim to achieve a balance between classics in the field and contemporary scholarship. Topics covered include empire and semi-colonialism, rebellion and revolution, nationalism, civil society and public sphere, economic development, war, science and technology, foreign relations, and foreign relations. This Pro-Seminar is particularly recommended for students planning an examination field in modern Chinese history. Reading knowledge of Chinese is recommended but not a required; students must have some prior coursework in Chinese history.
James Robson, HDS 3233, EABS 256R
This seminar focuses on the careful textual study and translation of a variety of Chinese Buddho-Daoist texts through the medieval period.Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Classical Chinese and background in the study of Chinese Buddhism is required.Jointly offered in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as East Asian Buddhist Studies 256R.
Michael Szonyi, CHNSHIS 230R
This seminar introduces students to the different genres of documents that are found in private hands in villages, and explores how these materials can be used for historical research. Reading knowledge of modern and literary Chinese required. Topic for Fall 2022: land and property deeds
Xiaofei Tian, CHNSLIT 229R
This semester will focus on writings from the Northern and Southern Dynasties, with emphasis on historiography, geographical works, anomaly accounts, and poetic genres.
William Alford, HLS 2461
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 example of the People’s Republic of China – which has, for example, gone from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of lawyers in a few decades – 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? In addition to examining the principal institutions of the Party-state and the uses to which law is put, the contemporary parts of the course will consider issues of the economy, rights, the family and much more. This course, which satisfies the Law School’s international legal studies graduation requirement for JDs, is intended to be inviting to individuals both with and without prior study of China.
David Wang, CHNSLIT 245R
Survey of modern Chinese fiction and narratology from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Chinese Diaspora: polemics of the canon, dialogues between national and regional imaginaries, and literary cultures in the Sinophone world.
Courses for Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Seth Robertson, PHIL 109
Early (Pre-Qin era) China was a hotbed of philosophical activity: scholars developed careful and fascinating ethical views in the context of serious philosophical debates between major schools of thought. This course focuses on some of these ethical debates between Confucian, Mohist, Daoist, and Legalist philosophers in early China. We’ll read both classical texts such as the Analects of Confucius, Mengzi, Xunzi, Mozi, and Zhuangzi and important contemporary scholarship on these texts. Several moral questions will be of particular importance: What is the relationship between etiquette and morality? What are the most important virtues to acquire? Should we think of morality and moral development as something natural or artificial? Are we justified in caring more about some people (our closest friends and family) than others? We will have a special focus on three important interpretive themes for the course: (1) How can understanding the particular contours of the debates each scholar is engaged in help us understand their overall views? (2) How does each philosopher’s view of human psychology and epistemology constrain, guide, and support their moral theorizing? (3) How can an understanding of early Chinese ethical thought, theory, and debate help enrich contemporary discussions in ethics and moral philosophy? No previous experience or coursework in Chinese philosophy is required for this course.
Michael Puett, CHNSHIS 234R
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.
Early China has been both a source and object for much of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century theory. We will read through several works that have been built out of the study of early China and discuss their larger significance.t.
Nargis Kassenova, GOV 1783
The course is designed as an in-depth study of the place of Central Asia in Eurasian and global politics, and the policies of key external actors, such as Russia, the United States, China, the European Union, Turkey, Iran, Japan, South Korea and India, toward the region. Students are familiarized with the ways Central Asia has been contextualized both in scholarly sources and media. We will dwell on the changing geopolitical dynamics of the region and analyze how developments there are intertwined with bigger contexts and stories, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation and democracy promotion to authoritarian consolidation and infrastructure development. We will define similarities and differences in the foreign policies of Central Asian states and discuss the future prospects of the region.
Steven Levitsky, GOV 1290
This course explores the roots of democratic success and failure across the world. After introducing alternative theories of democratization, including those centered on economic, cultural, institutional, international, and leadership factors, the course explores how democracy first emerged in Europe, asks why twentieth century democracies collapsed in Europe and South America, and seeks to explain the success and failure of recent democratization efforts in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union. The course also asks why dictatorships persist in China and the Middle East and introduces new forms of authoritarianism emerging in Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela. Finally, the course examines the current global democratic crisis, asking whether established democracies—including U.S. democracy–are at risk.
From the rise of China and resurgence of Russia, to the ongoing war in Ukraine, and North Korea and Iran’s advancing nuclear weapons programs, challenges in the Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa, and emergence of cyber conflict, this course examines the central challenges to American national security. Through a series of mini cases, students address these issues as if they were professionals at the National Security Council working for the President or an assistant to the Secretary of State or Defense. In response to specific assignments, students write Strategic Options Memos that require analyzing the challenge, assessing the current strategy, and identifying alternative strategies for protecting and advancing national interests.Assignments require strategic thinking: analyzing dynamics of issues, formulating key judgements, and developing feasible strategies. In the real world of Washington today, this means thinking clearly about what the US is attempting to achieve in the world in the midst of a swirl of a government whose deliberations are often discombobulated by leaks, press reports, tweets, and fake news. A sub-theme of the course explores ways in which pervasive press coverage intrudes, sometimes informing, sometimes distorting, national security decision making. In addition, the course will include several related side bars where we will discuss Applied History, “behind the veil” at a major newspaper, strategy (as taught at the Naval War College), structured analytical techniques, and basic numeracy. This course is open by instructor consent. Students interested in taking the course should email Chris Li (email@example.com) and Michael Miner (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a copy of their resumes to request the required student information form.
Robert Lawrence, BGP 610
This course provides a multidimensional introduction to international trade policy. Its purpose is to provide students with an understanding of international trade economics, rules, politics and institutions, and the major policy issues and challenges facing the global trading system.The course begins with an exploration of the rationales for free trade & protection, the distributional consequences of trade, the impact of trade on employment and growth and the challenges presented by deeper international economic integration.The course then considers the World Trade Organization (WTO). It explores negotiation mechanisms and principles, the rules relating to market access, services, agriculture, trade-related intellectual property (TRIPs), fair trade, safeguards and the system for dispute settlement and retaliation.The final section considers major challenges currently facing the trading system. These include the Covid pandemic, the backlash against globalization, and threats to the global trading order presented by US trade policy and the problems of absorbing China’s Socialist Market Economy. The pedagogical approaches in the course include lectures provided prior to class, case studies, small group discussions based on study questions, and exercises that simulate trade disputes and negotiations over WTO reforms for which students will be organized into national teams.
Eugene Wang, HAA 184G
Ink painting, a distinct pictorial medium of East Asian art, had its moments of crisis in the 20th century. How to modernize it became a pressing concern and contested matter for generations of artists and theorists. This course traces the historical trajectory of the modernization of ink painting in the Sinosphere. It examines how 20th century painters engaged and negotiated the burden of tradition, and how their own circumstances affected and inflected the disposition of their works. Comparisons are drawn among artists based in different parts of the Sinosphere, who approached the matter differently. Special focus is on the group of artists or artists-to-be who migrated from mainland China to Taiwan and Hong Kong in 1949. Questions raised include: How does the medium take on “modernity”? How does ink landscapes map out a mindscape? Is it a language of thought? Can the “ineffable” medium acquire a “voice” and how? Conducted in the Harvard Art Museum study center, the course aligns the first-hand close-looking of artworks in the museum collection with historicizing and theoretical perspectives. Enrollment limited to 15.
Stanislaus Fung, HIS 4387
This course deals with landscape architecture and architecture in contemporary China. Its purpose is twofold: to articulate new perspectives on the challenges facing designers, and to demonstrate the pertinence of issues to a broader range of international discussions.There are three major aspects involved:– An expanded vocabulary for understanding design challenges in both urban and rural settings. We shall discuss a range of terms, taken from local Chinese discussions and from Western contexts, that can enable a more precise grasp of issues. In particular, the understanding of Chinese gardens in terms of topology (from the work of Zhu Guangya) shows a way for going beyond the idea of static “composition.”– Detailed case studies that draw on a broad range of images documenting both design process and construction process. Our goal is to go beyond the usual presentation of design projects in six- or eight-page magazine articles and to attend to process and contingency. The main topics will include: redundant precision versus apparent precision in construction (from the work of Francesca Hughes), hi-fi versus lo-fi architecture (from the work of Jeremy Till), perspectival and aperspectival effects, and proactive intervention in the chain of supply of building materials.– Cultural dimensions relevant for the understanding of architectural and landscape experience. This part of our study will involve both reading texts (in English translation) and analyzing extant gardens. The main topics will include: long-term and short-term memory, the pitfalls of thinking in dualistic dichotomies, the opportunities presented by different kinds of clientele, and the limitations of various kinds of regionalism.Course enrollment is limited to thirty. Ten spots will be prioritized for Landscape Architecture students and ten spots will be prioritized for Architecture students who are taking this course to meet their BTC requirement. All prioritized students must select the course first in the lottery.Note on schedule: The class will meet synchronously on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 11:45 am. Every week there will be 60-90 minutes of asynchronous materials (lectures or seminar presentations). During weeks 4-12, the course will invite a range of designers and scholars from several countries as speakers or discussants. Please note that in 2-3 weeks of the semester, the class will meet with the guest speakers from 8 to 9 am ET (instead of the usual 10:30-11:45 am slot) due to time zone constraints. The online pre-recorded format allows for a much more international range of speakers and discussants, and the 60-90 min lectures on case studies will allow us to get a much more detailed understanding of projects than can be obtained from 6-8 page articles.
Chuntei Tseng, HIS 4486
The idea was that in [a] society, one that’s incompletely modernized… the temporal dynamics of that society, and of the modernism that it produces, will be much more striking… [I]t is through the experience of time that modern is apprehended.
–Fredric Jameson interview with Michael Speaks
Jameson on Jameson: Conversations on Cultural MarxismModern architecture was much more than “the International Style” as proclaimed by the vanguard in 1932. Modern architecture sprung up all over the world, in all political systems, in all geographical regions, in all kinds of conditions specific to each case. In many cases, through the drift and shift of transformation, adaptation, and intervention, modern architecture gained its momentum going forward and expanded its groundings both professionally, theoretically, and socially. After all, modernity also indicates battling the preexistent colonialism, imperialism, neocolonialism, as well as institutionalized chauvinism of all kinds. As such is the case of modern architecture in Sinophone Asia, which include Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong/Macau, Singapore and some part of Nusantara, the Southeast Asian archipelago. The cases, topics, and areas which the course covers.¨The course provides an exploratory study of the histories, theories, ideologies in which the discipline practiced as well as currently practices over time and across cultures and geographies under the umbrella of modern architecture. The idea is to call for a [re]discovery of multiplicity and diverseness of modern architecture. The emphasis is on plural reading and understanding of modern architecture through multiple cultural and critical lenses. The lecture discusses significant projects, prominent figures, noteworthy historical moments, and momentous social and political events. The lecture also examines the architectural movements and the other-isms as well as offers a glimpse of the recent Grands Projects and the work of the emergent generation.The course is structured around faculty presentations, guest lectures, and collective discussions. The students will be tasked with completing two assignments. The first being a case study assignment, the second a short end-of-the-semester paper on a topic related to the course. There are no prerequisites.