This interdisciplinary course will explore the nature and purpose of comparative studies in the humanities. We will read and discuss a variety of English-language texts written over the past 100 years that attempt to "explain" various aspects of Chinese culture in comparative terms, and others that hold the comparative project itself up to scrutiny. Our primary emphasis will be less the "facts" of Chinese history or society per se than the complex and shifting processes by which such "facts" are constructed, as we examine the goals and implications of different approaches to comparative analysis within such fields of literature, cultural history, philosophy, linguistics, and art history. The class, which is open to graduate students as well as advanced undergraduates, will be conducted as a seminar with an emphasis on discussion. All course readings will be in English.