COURSES PRIMARILY FOR UNDERGRADUATES

Government

GOV 1288: China’s Economic Development

Nara Dillon

How has China achieved high economic growth rates for 40 years?  Have the post-Mao economic reforms created a market economy, or a new form of state capitalism?  To answer these questions, this course explores the causes and consequences of China’s market reforms, placing the Chinese experience in comparative perspective.  The focus of this course will be on the politics of economic reform: seeking to understand how and why different policies have been adopted in China, to analyze their impact, and to seek lessons for reform in other countries.

 

GOV 94IA: Sino-US Relations in an Era of Rising Chinese Power

Alastair Johnston

Assesses theoretical arguments and empirical evidence concerning the implications of Chinese economic and military modernization for conflict and cooperation between China and the US. Some issues examined include global arms control, trade, the environment, and regional security.

 

GENED 1119: Law, Politics, and Trade Policy: Lessons from East Asia

Christina Davis

How do states balance the challenges and opportunities of international markets? Importing ideas and resources while exporting manufactured goods underlies the East Asian growth miracle but also builds conflict with other governments. This course examines the transformative role of trade policy for Japan, Korea, and China. From the “unequal treaties” of the nineteenth century to the World Trade Organization today, trade law binds the interactions between East Asia and the world. Japan grew from an isolated samurai nation to a leading economic power but now confronts stagnating growth. Korea relied on business conglomerates for rapid industrialization and embraced liberalization to steer its way out of financial crisis. China turned to the WTO to anchor domestic economic reforms but now faces U.S. resistance to its export dominance. East Asia offers models of the success and problems that accompany globalization.

 

History

GENED 1101: The Business of China

William Kirby

China will become the world’s largest economy by 2030. Chinese firms have transformed business landscapes at home and now seek a global role. What can we learn about China—its people, its government, its culture—from its transformative enterprises? This course uses business as a lens through which to study modern China and its global impact. Using Harvard Business School case studies, we explore the drivers of China’s growth: traditional family firms and internet startups; state-owned enterprises and private-sector challengers; and the catalytic role of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and foreign enterprise in shaping contemporary China. We study the role of the Communist Party and government (local and national) in business and society. The course puts special attention on how U.S.-China relations are shaped by business in the era of Xi Jinping and Donald Trump.   Can China lead?  Will the 21st century be “the Chinese century?” At the end of this course you will be able to make well-informed judgments.

 

Literature and Culture

EASTD 97AB: Introduction to the Study of East Asia: Issues and Methods

Ryuichi Abe

This interdisciplinary and team-taught course provides an introduction to several of the approaches and methods through which the societies and cultures of East Asia can be studied at Harvard, including history, philosophy, literary studies, political science, film studies, anthropology and gender studies. We consider both commonalities and differences across the region, and explore how larger processes of imperialism, modernization, and globalization have shaped contemporary East Asian societies and their future trajectories.

 

GENED 1049: East Asian Cinema

Jie Li

This course introduces major works, genres, and waves of East Asian cinema from the silent era to the present, including films from Mainland China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will discuss issues ranging from formal aesthetics to historical representation, from local film industries to transnational audience reception.

This course does not assume prior knowledge of East Asian culture or of film studies, but rather seeks to provide students with a basic understanding of modern East Asian cultural history through cinema, and with an essential toolkit for analyzing film and media, including narrative, cinematography, editing and sound. In addition to critical approaches, students are strongly encouraged to creatively respond to course materials by collaborating on their own short films, beginning with the illustration of film terms in the first two weeks and culminating in the “Golden Monkey Awards”—a class screening of final projects with Oscar-like awards in various categories.

As a General Education course, East Asian Cinema will help students develop aesthetic responsiveness and interpretive ability to moving images in an increasingly media-saturated world. While becoming acquainted with some analytical vocabulary and critical approaches to cinema, students will also gain insights into East Asian cultures and histories, aesthetic traditions and ethical values, as well as the politics and economics that went into the films’ production and reception. Above all, the course will encourage students to be creative and enterprising with the digital media technologies at our disposal, to engage in collaborative teamwork and experiment with unorthodox ways of looking at the world through amateur filmmaking.

 

GENED 1119: Law, Politics, and Trade Policy: Lessons from East Asia

Christina Davis

How do states balance the challenges and opportunities of international markets? Importing ideas and resources while exporting manufactured goods underlies the East Asian growth miracle but also builds conflict with other governments. This course examines the transformative role of trade policy for Japan, Korea, and China. From the “unequal treaties” of the nineteenth century to the World Trade Organization today, trade law binds the interactions between East Asia and the world. Japan grew from an isolated samurai nation to a leading economic power but now confronts stagnating growth. Korea relied on business conglomerates for rapid industrialization and embraced liberalization to steer its way out of financial crisis. China turned to the WTO to anchor domestic economic reforms but now faces U.S. resistance to its export dominance. East Asia offers models of the success and problems that accompany globalization.

 

GENED 1128: The Conduct of Life in Western and Eastern Philosophy

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, 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?

 

COURSES FOR BOTH UNDERGRADUATES AND GRADUATES

Government

EASTD 196: Political Geography of China

Daniel Koss

Putting Chinese politics on the map, this course asks how the government deals with the enormous challenges of ruling over a vast terrain with a diverse population, encompassing super-rich urban metropolises as well as poor rural peripheries. We begin with statecraft traditions from the late imperial era; and end with China’s place on the future global maps of the 21st century. Topics include: macro-regions; priority zones of governance; Special Economic Zones; the Chinese equivalent of “blue states and red states;” rising inequality; ethnic minorities and borderlands; economic development models; urbanization and city planning; collective action in digital space; domestic and international migration; environmental politics; and the geo-politics of the “One Belt One Road” initiative. We will set aside class time for a hands-on introduction to producing and interpreting maps of China.

 

EASTD 198: Political Parties in East Asia

Daniel Koss

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.

 

History

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.

 

HIST 1610: Environments: 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.

 

Literature and Culture

CHNSLIT 134: Strange Tales: The Supernatural in Chinese Literature

Thomas Kelly

This course introduces students to traditional Chinese literature by focusing on “tales of the strange.” We will examine how ghosts, demons, fox spirits, and other liminal creatures haunt the literary imagination, stretching the possibilities of storytelling. Students will gain familiarity with masterpieces of Chinese literature and their intriguing afterlives in performance, film, and popular culture. Our discussions will consider how literary accounts of ghosts and the supernatural grapple with issues of gender and sexuality, the cultural meanings of death, the boundaries of human community, and the experience of historical trauma. We will focus on developing skills in close reading, while critically engaging theories of the “strange.” No background in Chinese is required.

 

ANTHRO 1210: The Archaeology of Ancient China

Rowan Flad

A survey of the archaeology of China from the origins of humans during the Palaeolithic into the Bronze Age (ca. 220 BCE), with an emphasis on the origins of agriculture and the emergence of complex society during the late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. We survey important archaeological finds from these periods and examine relevant issues in anthropological archaeology. Sections will involve the discussion and use of materials from the Peabody and Sackler Museums.

 

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.

 

China’s Growth: Political Economy, Business and Urbanization (M.I.T.)

Yasheng Huang

China is the second largest economy in the world. That much we know. But much else about China is unknown and/or still hotly debated. For example, what have been the main drivers of Chinese economic growth? What are the driving forces of the largest urbanization in human’s history and how to understand the miracles in China’s booming real estate market? Whether do the top-down urban and industrial policy interventions improve efficiency or cause misallocation problems? Will Chinese cities see more “blue skies” in the future? How do Chinese firms operate to attain their success, Through hard-working entrepreneurship or through political connections with the government? Is the Chinese political system an enabler of Chinese growth or a potential impediment to the country’s future growth prospects? These questions are hotly debated among China experts and scholars and the aim of this course is not to resolve these debates. Instead, we aim to provide competing perspectives to facilitate debates and discussions among students in the course so that they can arrive at their own conclusions.
The course provides broad perspectives and discussions rather than aiming at specialization and in-depth coverage of a particular topic. Topics covered in the course include economics and politics of reforms, urbanization, business models, sustainability and many other related topics and readings draw from economics, political science and business school case studies

 

COURSES FOR PRIMARILY GRADUATE STUDENTS

Government

GOV 2285: Political Science and China

Elizabeth Perry

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

 

History

CHNSHIS 229R: Ming Intellectual History

Peter Bol

Examines various intellectual texts and movements during the Ming dynasty. Prerequisite: Knowledge of literary Chinese

 

Literature and Culture

CHNSLIT 231: Late-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). Reading knowledge of classical and pre-modern vernacular Chinese required.

 

CHNSLIT 236: China’s Banned Book: Reading Jin Ping Mei (Conference Course)

Thomas Kelly

This course will introduce students to the controversial masterpiece of Chinese fiction, The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei)Censored for its erotic content, this sensational book had a profound impact on the development of Chinese fiction. A landmark in the history of the novel, The Plum in the Golden Vase shifts attention away from worthy heroes to examine the everyday exploits and desires of ordinary people. The work of an anonymous author, The Plum in the Golden Vase revels in sensory excess (greed, murder, intoxication, and lust), illustrating the vivid details of Chinese urban life. We will focus on developing skills in close reading, while using this monumental work to survey the flourishing cultural landscape of early modern China. Our discussions will situate the novel alongside recent scholarship on gender and sexuality, material culture, and performance. We will also hold class viewing sessions in the Harvard-Yenching Library and the Harvard Art Museums. Students with Chinese language skills will be encouraged to read the original text.

 

CHNSLIT 245R: Topics in Sinophone Studies – Modern Chinese Fiction on the Periphery

David Wang

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.

 

EAFM 222: Media Cultures in the People’s Republic

Jie Li

This seminar examines the changing Chinese mediascape from the 1950s to the present. Every week, we will focus on a different form of representational media, from propaganda posters, photography, radio broadcasting, and cinema, to television, video piracy, and the Internet. We will ask question such as: How have media technologies changed contemporary Chinese culture and society? Were they instruments of totalitarian control, commodities of market capitalism, or tools of resistance and independent expression? How did the mass media affect perception, experiences, and memories of socialism and postsocialism, as well as the periods’ cultural forms and aesthetics? What is specific or special about each medium, and how do different types of media interact in the Chinese context? While analyzing media texts, we will also consider their sociopolitical, institutional, and technological as well as engage with media theories and explore untapped historical sources.

 

EASTD 261: Advanced Readings in East Asian Art

Melissa McCormick

This is a seminar for advanced graduate students in East Asian art (and adjacent fields) focusing on reading secondary and primary sources in Japanese, as well as recent scholarship and theoretical texts in English. The topic will change each semester to accommodate the research projects, general exam fields, and interests of the participants. In addition to examining the state of the field of East Asian art history, the goal is to provide instruction in practical areas such as deciphering calligraphic texts (kuzushiji), improving bibliographic skills, and mastering specialized terminology.

 

UYGHUR 300: Readings in Uyghur Language and Literature

Mark Elliott

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

 

Religion

EABS 255: Readings on Chinese Religions: Recent Scholarship on Chinese Buddhism and Daoism: Seminar

James Robson

This seminar aims to discuss significant new works in the field of Chinese Religions by focusing on the historical, doctrinal, and philosophical development of the Buddhist tradition in China.

 

TIBET 211: Readings in the Collected Works of Dar ma rgyal mtshan (1227-1305), alias or Bcom Idan rig[s] ral

Leonard van der Kuijp

This course seeks to introduce an important thirteenth century intellectual by examining the corpus of Dar ma rgyal mtshan’s oeuvre that has recently become available. We will try to bring these into some chronological order and read various segments from a select number of his writings.

 

TIBET 212: Readings in Gser mdog Pan chen Shākya mchog Idan’s (1428-1507) Tshad ma rigs gter gyi dgongs rgyan

Leonard van der Kuijp

Gser mdog Pan chen’s work on logic and epistemology (tshad ma) was path breaking. We will be reading passages from his Dgongs rgyan and contextualize his arguments against the background of the history of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist epistemology and logic. Familiarity with Classical Tibetan.

Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies