Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Director: Tarik Ahmed Elseewi, Film and Media Studies

Jakobina Arch, History

Brian Dott, History

Kathryn Frank, Film and Media Studies

Krista Gulbransen, Art History

Donghui He, Chinese

Libby Miller, Art History

Lauren E. Osborne, Religion

Yukiko Shigeto, Japanese

Wakako Suzuki, Japanese

Jonathan S. Walters, Religion

Xiaobo Yuan, Anthropology and Religion

Wencui Zhao, Chinese

 

Affiliated Faculty:

Shampa Biswas, Politics

Gaurav Majumdar, English

 

About the Program

The Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program (AMES) aspires to create a better understanding of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and their place in the world through interdisciplinary course offerings. The program offers three majors: Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (SAME).

Programs of Study

Courses

Credits 4

The course explores selected topics in Asian and Middle Eastern studies at the beginning level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 2

This course will explore religious publics and sacred spaces in contemporary China and Taiwan. Combining lectures with student-focused discussions, the course will examine the trajectories of diverse religious traditions in China and Taiwan, including Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and popular or folk religion. Students will learn about the histories of these traditions and their contemporary iterations, as well as explore themes such globalization and localization, spiritual revival, and the relationship between the state and religious institutions. We will pair these academic engagements with field trips to urban religious spaces, as well as an extended road trip to sites of sacred assemblage and pilgrimage in either Taiwan or China.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Prerequisites

One academic year of Chinese language coursework; and admission to the Whitman Summer Chinese Studies program.

Credits 4

The course explores selected topics in Asian and Middle Eastern studies at the intermediate level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Credits 2
Fees
Varies; estimated course fees and international airfare will be announced when offered.

This course looks in depth at selected sites along the silk roads of Asia, both in the classroom and during a field trip. One hour per week throughout the semester, and a field trip to Asia over the spring break. Students will explore the past and current situations of specific sites to be visited during the field trip through pre-trip readings and research presentations, keep a detailed journal during the field trip, and give a multimedia or poster-style presentation of a researched aspect of the trip to the college community near the end of the semester. Students must apply for the course, and pay a course fee to be announced.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Prerequisites

Admission to the program.

Corequisites

Biology 121 and History 121

Credits 4

This course explores a wide range of cultural expressions from premodern to contemporary Japan: epic narratives, local legends, folktales, urban legends, stories of the supernatural,  magic, music, religious festivals, manga, anime, and film. Rather than focusing on traditional sources in the study of Japanese culture (art and literature of the nobility, imperial anthologies, religious doctrines, etc.), we will consider non-elite modes of expression. Through our discussions and readings, we will also tackle some of the ideas and assumptions underlying the notion of the folk. Who are the folk? From when and where does the concept of a folk people originate inside and outside of Japan? Is the folk still a viable, relevant category today? How does it treat regional versus national identity? As we analyze the construction of this concept, we will consider its implications for the Japanese and our own perception of Japan. Includes works by Kunio Yanagita, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Fumiko Enchi, Kyōka Izumi, Shigeru Mizuki, Lafcadio Hearn, Akinari Ueda and many others. May be elected as Global Literatures 224 or Japanese 224. Distribution areas: Cultural Pluralism, Humanities, Global Cultures and Languages, The Individual and Society, Studying the Past.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Studying the Past (STP)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

This course examines the social construction of minority groups and the intersections with race, class, gender, and sexuality through the prism of films, literature, and other visual media. By examining the legacy of Japanese colonialism in Asia, the US occupation, the creation of the regional Cold War order, and the consumer society, the course will engage students with discussions of current literary and cultural systems, minority literature, Ainu and Okinawan cultures, non-fictional works on the Brazilian community and Filipino workers, residential Korean literature, Chinese literary culture, and African American culture. This course is based on the premise that films and literature are never merely diversion or entertainment. Instead, they provide us with stories, images, and scripts that enable us to understand different social identities, cultural ideologies, community formations, and institutional arrangements. By looking at literary and cinematic works, we aim to gain insights into how these representations consequently shape and influence our understanding of “people” in the real world. We will read literary works by Oe Kenzaburo, Kirino Natsuo, Ri Kaisei, Hirabayashi Taiko, Hayashi Fumiko, Murakami Haruki, and Yoshimoto Banana and examine films by Imamura Shohei, Ichikawa Kon, Kurosawa Akira, Kawase Naomi, Miyazaki Hayao and Mizoguchi Kenji. May be taken for credit toward the Film & Media Studies major or minor or the Gender Studies major or minor. May be elected as Global Literatures 226 or Japanese 226. Distribution areas: Humanities, Cultural Pluralism, Global Cultures and Languages, Power and Equity, Writing Across Contexts.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Writing Across Contexts (WAC)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

The course explores selected topics in Asian and Middle Eastern studies at the advanced level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course is a close reading of the Analects, a seminal text in the Confucian tradition. As a class, we will explore the philosophy of the Analects and ways of reading the Analects as philosophy. We will also practice writing one’s own philosophical commentary for the Analects following examples of historic Chinese philosophers. May be elected as Philosophy 365.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 1 Max Credits 4

Directed individual study and research.

Prerequisites

Appropriate prior coursework in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; and consent of instructor.