East Asian Languages & Cultures | East Asia: An Introduction
E100 | 0202 | Ingeman
This course is a selective survey of the traditional and contemporary
social, cultural and political histories of the nations that make up East
Asia: China, Japan, and Korea. There are no prerequisites, and students
are not expected to have any prior knowledge of these countries.
East Asia as a region has, since the 1980s, become not only an increasingly
powerful player in the international politics and the global economy, but
has also come to play a significant role in the shaping of a global culture.
It has been common for journalists and business people to speak of the
dawning century as the "East Asian" century, and in this new century, basic
knowledge of East Asia will prove invaluable.
The civilizations of China, Japan and Korea are each many times older than
that of the United States. Most individuals in contemporary East Asia are
filled with a great sense of pride in the long histories and cultural
traditions of their nations. They are also keenly aware of the sharp divide
between those traditions and the transformations that occurred in the past
century, as a result of the arrival of Western cultural and political
forces. To understand East Asia requires learning not just about present
day society, but also about the narratives of the past that have shaped the
way East Asian societies view themselves and their relations to the West.
In the first week of E100, we will consider East Asia in general terms by
learning of its geography, peoples, and languages. We will also examine the
basic thought systems that continue to permeate the lives of East Asian
peoples today: Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Following this
introduction, we will then explore the traditional roots of China, Japan and
Korea through literature and art. We will learn of trade along the Silk
Route, the flowering of Chinese poetic traditions, the characteristics of
Japanese samurai culture, and the spread of Buddhism to Korea. In the
latter half of the course, we will focus on contemporary East Asia, with a
special emphasis on the role of the Western media in framing the view of
this "East Asian" century.
Course requirements will include short homework assignments, weekly quizzes,
two hour-long exams, as well as daily participation and attendance.