Professor Eugenia Lean            

May-June 2018                                                                      

Course Description

With the fall of the Qing empire in 1911, modern China was faced with the challenge of finding ways to build itself anew, politically, economically, socially and culturally. This course will examine China’s myriad experiments with new political systems, new modes of thought, new ways of organizing its political economy and radically reconfiguring its society. The course starts with the fall of the Qing empire and moves into the Republic and the PRC period to end with the post-Mao period. The class traces China’s shift from empire to nation-state and then, to Party-state. In addition to a chronological coverage, the course also sheds light on China’s negotiation of a new and shifting global order, paying particular attention to circuits of imperialism, science and capitalism, and more recently, neo-liberalism. It introduces important historiographical debates centering on nationalism, revolution and citizenship, ethnicity, imperialism and de-colonization, industrialization, the cold war and the Cultural Revolution. Different methodological approaches will be considered. Students will compare a social history approach with cultural history, contrast studies of longue duree with microhistory, and examine studies that take as a central point of analysis class, gender, race, and/or science, technology and medicine.



New Perspectives on Chan (Zen) Buddhism

Professor Robert H. Sharf

May-June 2018


Course description:

This course will focus on early Chinese Chan Buddhism (better known by its Japanese name, Zen), utilizing a variety of sources and perspectives. We will begin by looking at the ideological and sociological forces that contributed to the rise of Chan in the eighth century, as well as the doctrinal and ritual underpinnings (Madhyamaka, Yogācāra, Tantra) of Chan thought. Our primary sources for Tang period Chan consist largely of documents found in the "library cave" at Dunhuang, augmented by the writings of ninth-century Buddhist exegetes such as Chengguan 澄觀 (738–839) and Zongmi 宗密 (780-841). We will then turn to the transformation of Chan in the Song period, focusing on the emergence of the innovative new literary genres associated with Chan, including yulu 語錄 ("recorded sayings"), chuandeng lu 傳燈錄 ("transmission of the lamp") and gong'an 公案 ("public cases"). Time permitting, we will end with selections from one of the most famous public case collections, the Wumenguan 無門關 (Gateless Barrier), compiled in the early thirteenth century by Wumen Huikai 無門慧開 (1183–1260). Our approach will draw from Chinese intellectual and social history, ritual studies, religious studies, literature, and philosophy. Primary readings in Chinese will be accompanied by English translations whenever possible, to accommodate students who don't know classical Chinese. 



Premodern Empires: East, West, and In-between during the Early-Modern 

Dr. Ori Sela and Dr. Oded Rabinovitch

Fall, 2018

Course descriptionEmpires had been an accepted form of large-scale and complex political organization in human history. During the early-modern era in particular, extensive land empires developed in Asia, and European colonial empires began to rule vast areas across oceans. This seminar will examine these empires through a comparative perspective, and will trace similarities and differences in the ways empires were organized, categorized, defined, as well as their self-identity as empires. It will also examine the relationships between rulers and subjects, rulers and the imperial mechanisms, and the processes that led to the rise of some empires yet the downfall of others. We will further discuss the connections between different early-modern empires.




The Last Empires in Asia before the Modern Age: Boundary-Crossing Outlook

Dr. Ori Sela

Spring, 2018

This class deals with the history of the last empires in Asia during the early modern period - Tokugawa and Meiji; Ming and Qing; and the Moghul Empire - from a comparative outlook. We will discuss questions regarding the definition of empires, their identity before the nation state, tensions arising from penetration of foreign elements or conquest of foreign lands and peoples, ways of governance and government institutions, as well as the complex transition into the modern period.