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East Asia

Fall 2024

This course examines the intertwining histories of Japan, Korea, China and Vietnam from 1600 to the present. We will focus both on the common characteristics as well as the differences between these cultures. We will look comparatively at these four societies, their struggles to preserve or regain their independence, to refashion their national identities, and to articulate their needs and perceptions of a rapidly and violently changing world. Topics for analysis will include nationalism, imperialism, modernization, westernization, democratization, the Cold War, Indigenous rights, and globalization. Assignments will include short papers and exams.

Prof. Dott, 4 credits, MWF 9:00-9:50am

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism, Social Science, Global Cultures & Languages distribution and SAMES requirements.

-History major: modern history; Cultures & Ideas; Revolution/War/Politics; Empires & Colonialism

This course will examine human-environment interaction within the large, diverse area known as East Asia (approximately covering modern China, Korea and Japan). We will begin with pre-agricultural history and then focus on environmental topics within three broad time periods. The first period will cover from approximately 1000 BCE to 1300 CE, the period in which intensive rice cultivation spread through East Asia; the second period covers the early modern era, broadly defined as ~1300 CE to the mid-1800s, a period of imperial expansion outside and within East Asia; the final period covers the modern industrial era and its particular impacts on the environment. This course assumes no familiarity with East Asian history. If you are familiar with some East Asian history, the focus on the environment should provide you with a new perspective on what you know. Class will be conducted in a combined lecture/discussion format.

Prof. Arch, 4 credits, MW 1-2:20pm

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism, Social Science, Individual & Society, Global Cultures & Languages distribution, and/or Studying the Past, as well as SAMES and Environmental Studies electives.

-History major: premodern history; Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Before Modernity

This course examines the history of China from ancient times up to 1600. We will explore Chinese society, culture, and religion through a variety of sources and media. The course is structured to move away from the traditional historiography which focused predominantly on emperors and dynasties. While these political aspects of Chinese history will still be addressed, we also will look at groups and individuals outside of the central power structure, and at longer socioeconomic trends which transcended dynastic changes. Offered in alternate years.

Prof. Dott, 4 credits, TTh 1-2:20pm

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism, Social Science distribution, as well as SAMES elective.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Before Modernity

Every natural disaster starts with a natural event like a storm or an earthquake, but such events only become disasters when they adversely impact people. In the last 400 years, Japan has suffered from a wide variety of earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and other forces of nature. This course uses in-depth readings and discussions to explore the historical impacts of natural disasters in Japan from the 1605 tsunami earthquake to the Triple Disaster of 2011, from the massive 1792 eruption of Mt Unzen to the smaller but still fatal eruption of Mt Ontake in 2014. We will examine the consequences of events throughout early modern and modern Japanese history to determine how Japanese society, culture, and politics adapted and responded to being in one of the world's most disaster-prone locations. We will think about how industrialization helped Japanese people control the natural world, but also how it sometimes increased the damage caused by natural forces. In-depth readings and discussions. Assignments include a semester-long research project on a topic of your choice. Not open to first-year students. Recommended prerequisite: History 299.

Prof. Arch, 4 credits, MW 2:30-3:50pm

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism, Social Sciences distribution, as well as Environmental Studies and Japanese minor electives.

-History major: 39x seminar; modern history

Spring 2025

Was Genghis Khan really such a bad guy after all? Were the Mongol Invasions of the 13th century really a disaster? It almost seems immoral to ask questions like this, but in this class, we'll go ahead and ask them anyway. This course explores the impact of the rise of Genghis Khan and the spread of his Empire as recorded in a multitude of primary sources, literary, archaeological, and artistic, which have survived from the 13th and 14th centuries. Using primary source material, much of it now available in English translation, students will examine the rise and rule of the Mongol khans through the words of the empire's administrators, observers, chroniclers, critics, victims, and even entertainers. We will also watch the Mongols in films, including The Conqueror (MGM, 1956), starring John Wayne (!); Mongol (Sergei Bodrov, 2007), and the Marco Polo series. We will examine the Mongol way of life, what they ate, how they educated their youth, how they trained for combat, their rapport to nature and the horses that were so central to their conquests, the role of women in Mongol society, their drinking culture, among other topics. You will learn about the complex and fascinating relation the Mongols had to religion and to the various religious traditions they encountered during their conquests. We will also discuss the Mongol legacy in various contemporary societies, including China, Japan, and Russia. During each class, we will read a primary source extract together and discuss it, for instance a section of the biography of Genghis Khan, a diplomatic letter exchange between the Mongol Khan and the Pope, or medieval descriptions of the Mongols by European travelers, etc. This class will allow you to see the Mongols in a brand-new way.

Prof. Neggaz, 4 credits, TTh 11:30am-12:50pm

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism, Social Science, or Studying the Past distribution, as well as Global Studies and SAMES electives.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Before Modernity

This interdisciplinary and interdivisional course will provide an integrative exploration into the environmental history and ethnobiology of peoples along various branches of the trading routes across Asia known as the silk roads, with an emphasis on China prior to 1400. Topics focus on how local environments shaped how people lived, including: how, where and why people moved; what goods and technologies were traded; how trade impacted agricultural, social and religious practices; what key biological features underlay the movement along the silk road of items such as foods, beverages, fibers, animals, and diseases. May be elected as Environmental Studies 321, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 321 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies.

Prof.s Dott and Dobson, 4 credits, MWF 10-10:50am, Th 9-9:50am

-Fulfills Social Science, Global Cultures & Languages, or Studying the Past distribution, as well as SAMES, and Global Studies electives.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Before Modernity

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