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Courses

Get a feel for the exciting variety of courses taught at Marlboro.

This is a list of courses that faculty felt was representational of the courses offered. It is not a complete list of courses, some courses are offered yearly, while others are infrequent. A course may be inspired by events or strong interests and taught only once.

Most advanced work is in the form of tutorials on specific subjects, a collaboration between one faculty member and one student or a handful of students.

Asian Studies

A Frog Jumps In: Seminar in Japanese History & Culture
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2017
Global Perspective

The ripples of Japanese culture have reached all sides of the Pacific. This seminar will examine selected topics in the origins and development of Japanese history and culture from the earliest records to the present. We will begin with a general overview of Japanese language, history and geography. We will then consider the fundamental themes of Japanese history while reading key works on Japanese literature, politics, religion, and contemporary society.  We will pay particular attention to issues of art and the environment. Each student will complete a number of short assignments in the first half of the term and an independent research project and linked presentation in the second half of the term.   Knowledge of Japanese language is not necessary, but some prior exposure to Japanese culture will be helpful.

Brush, Sword, and Hoe: Ancient Chinese History & Culture
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2019
Global Perspective

This course will examine the development of Chinese culture from the earliest divination rites to the court intrigues of the Ming dynasty. Along the way we will study the creation and growth of the imperial institution and meritocratic civil service that made it work; we will discuss China’s complex relations with its central Asian neighbors; we will consider some of the fabulous economic and technological developments that made Chinese products the envy of the world in the 17th century; and we will read a selection of poetry and prose by Tang hermits, Song officials, and Ming aesthetes.

China's Problems Since Mao
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2014
Global Perspective

During the last thirty-five years, the People's Republic of China has achieved economic growth on a historically unprecedented scale. But at what cost? This class will consider some of the problems that have attended China's tremendous development: environmental degradation, ethnic conflict, and human rights. While each problem has roots that run deep in Chinese history, each also has very distinctive contemporary expressions. After a brief survey of contemporary China's political, economic, and geographic framework, we will examine the relationship between individuals, social movements, and the state through case studies on water quality, ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, the pro-democracy movement of Tiananmen Square, and the One-Child Policy. Students will write frequent responses to the reading, and will track, over the course of the term, specific issues of interest to them using on-line resources, culminating in a presentation to the class. Prerequisite: None

CONCEPTIONS OF TIME AND SPACE IN ASIA
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2012

What are time and space? Paradoxically, they appear to be universal yet culturally distinct; ineffable yet quotidian. Drawing on the disciplines of history, geography, art history, literature, and religion, this course will investigate the ways in which time and space have been shaped and understood in Asia. We will begin by considering traditional connections between space and power in temple architecture and pilgrimage rituals, the fengshui (geomancy) and correlative cosmology of China, and the principle of emptiness in Japan. The course will then examine the changes wrought in Asian conceptions of time and space by modernizing projects ranging from cartography in Thailand to irrigation in Indonesia.Prerequisite: Previous coursework in anthropology, cultural history, art history, history or Asian studies, or permission of instructor

Dark Twins: The Underside of Asian Urbanization
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2016
Designated Writing
Global Perspective

While Asia is still often stereotypically pictured as agricultural, it is now home to most of the world's largest cities. And while these cities are rightly seen as places for coming together, they also depend on social and physical segregations. In “dark twins” such as ghettos, squatter settlements, unregulated sweatshops, jails and sewer systems, much of the work that allows these newly prosperous cities to function takes place. Using history, sociology, anthropology, journalism and urban planning, we will peer into the history of these hidden spaces. What institutions, formal and informal, create and preserve urban enclaves? How does the study of these “dark twins” change our understanding of cosmopolises such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Mumbai, Naypyidaw and Chandigarh? Prerequisite: None, but knowledge of Asian history helpful

Making Way: Daoist Ritual and Practice
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2011

Reading the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi may tell us what Daoists believe, but what do they do? In this course we will consider not the tenets, but the central practices of Daoism. Using the works of historians, anthropologists, scholars of religion, medical practitioners, tai-chi masters, poets, and other wanderers on the way, we will explore ritual, self-cultivation, health, and community organization in the Daoist experience. Students will write a substantial research paper over the course of the semester. Prerequisite: Prior coursework in Asian Studies or prior training in meditation or martial arts

Modern Chinese History & Culture
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2017
Global Perspective

A continuation of “Ancient Chinese History and Culture,” this course will examine the major trends in Chinese history from the 17th century to the present. Along the way we will consider phenomenal expansion of China's territory, population, and economy under the Manchu Qing dynasty. We will then explore the onslaught of rebellion, reform, and revolution that put an end to the imperial system. We will consider the environmental consequences of economic development and political turmoil.  Finally, we will study the radical communism of Mao Zedong and conclude by looking at the challenges facing China today. Throughout the semester we will focus on the changing forms of political power and their implications for empowerment and accountability.

PLAN WRITING SEMINAR IN ASIAN STUDIES
( Variable Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2013

A weekly seminar devoted to the drafting, critiquing and revising of Plan papers in Asian Studies.

Rice, Ritual, & Revolution: A Survey of Southeast Asian History
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2019
Designated Writing
Global Perspective

This course will survey the history of Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines) from the earliest written records to the present.  During the first half of the semester, we will consider Indian and Chinese influences on the region; local forms of kingship, social organization, and religious expression; and the onset of European colonialism.  In the second half, we will turn our attention to nationalist movements, the Japanese occupation during WWII, and political independence in the post-war period.  Reading will include a comprehensive textbook, historical monographs, a memoir, and a novel.  Students will conclude the semester with research papers on subjects of their own choosing. Prerequisite: None

The Nation and Its Others: Ethnicity in Asia
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2014
Designated Writing
Global Perspective

What is ethnicity? How is it related to nationality? And why are the two so important? This class tries to answer these questions by looking at a wide range of case studies in modern Asia: Highlanders in Indonesia, Overseas Chinese in Malaysia, the Ainu in Japan, the various minorities in Southwest China and the Mongols in Central Asia. In each of these cases we find tensions between minority and majority populations. Who has the power to determine who belongs to which ethnic group? What resources become available through ethnic and national belonging? What responsibilities do they entail? We will look at state policy and social responses in the realms of religion, tourism, cultural preservation, economic development and language use. Students will do close readings of pieces from the contemporary media and will conclude the semester with a research paper on a subject of their choosing. Prerequisite: Previous coursework in Asian studies, anthropology, or sociology

For Asian Studies offerings, also see:

HINDUISM
Plan Writing Seminar
The Making of the Contemporary World
Wrestling with Ancestors: Introduction to Confucianism & Daoism

Detours

(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)