Arts and Letters of China
TTh 1:00pm-2:30pm
2011 MLB
4 Credit Lecture
Cross-Listed as ASIAN 265-001, PHIL 265-001, RCHUMS 265-001

This interdisciplinary and multimedia course is taught jointly by faculty specialists in Chinese philosophy, religion, cultural history, history of art, drama, literature, and visual culture. It is not a survey course. Instead the main task will be the sustained and critical study of a number of significant and representative works in order to present some major themes and art forms of the distinct and complex civilizations of China. In spite of inner tensions, this is a cultural tradition that can be seen as a highly integrated system composed of mutually reinforcing parts, making such an interdisciplinary and multimedia approach particularly effective. Toward the end of the term we will observe the system's collapse as it struggles to adapt to the modern world, and consider how our themes continue, persist, or change. We will conclude our course with discussions of art, poetry, and cinema from contemporary China. Background lectures on language and early culture will be followed by topics and readings that include:

  • "Confucianism" (Confucius and Mencius), "Daoism" (Laozi and Zhuangzi), the art of argumentation;
  • themes in Chinese religiosity, Chan (Zen) Buddhism;
  • lyricism and visual experience in poetry and painting;
  • music;
  • traditional storyteller tales;
  • poetic-musical theater; modern fiction and culture; and
  • Chinese film.

The format of the course consists of three hours of lectures and one hour of discussion. The lectures will be given by

  • Baxter (language);
  • Brown (early culture, "Confucianism," and the art of argumentation);
  • Lam (music);
  • Lin ("Daoism," poetry, and garden);
  • Tang (modern culture and literature);
  • Nornes (film);
  • Powers (painting);
  • Brose (religion);
  • Rolston (theater and traditional fiction).

Students should register for both the lecture section, and one of the three discussion sections. No prerequisites.

Requirements: occasional brief responses to readings, three short papers, and final exam.