Fall 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course introduces students to fundamental aspects of Chinese culture. “Culture” is one of the few most complicated words in the English language. This course adopts its two basic meanings: Matthew Arnold’s notion of "the best that has been thought and said” and Raymond Williams’s conception of “a whole way of life.” The two meanings of culture will serve as the guiding principle for selecting course materials and structuring the course organization. The main aim of the course is to introduce essential aspects of Chinese history, thought, religions, politics, economics, language, literature, arts, people, society, and general ways of life. The course is characterized by a heavy use of audio-visual materials on Chinese culture. In addition to reading assignments, students will view in class a sizable number of videos and films on aspects of high culture pertaining to literature, calligraphy, painting, architecture, sculpture, music, dance, opera, and puppet show, and aspects of ordinary culture covering daily life, religious activities, social organization, customs, costumes, cuisines, gardens, historical sites, traditional medicine, martial arts, acrobatics, handicrafts, etc. All readings and viewing materials are in English. No prior knowledge of Chinese language and culture is required.
1. Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Cambridge Illustrated History of China, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
2. Some videos and films on aspects of Chinese culture to be viewed in class.
3. Some handouts of short literary works and excerpts of Chinese thought and religion to be distributed by the instructor.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
The course will be conducted through a mixture of lectures, instructor-led discussions, and film/video viewing. Regular attendance and participation in the classroom activities are required of all students. Students are expected to read the assigned materials before coming to class, take a series of brief in-class quizzes (5-6 minutes) which cover the reading assignments, turn in a mid-term paper and have a final exam. The grading is based on the following:
1. 7 brief in-class quizzes 35%
(one with low grade can be discarded)
2. One mid-term paper: 25%
3. One final exam: 25%
4. Attendance and Participation: 15%