Chinese and Japanese Department

Professor: Bryan Van Norden (Chair); Associate Professors: Wenwei Du, Peipei Qiu;Assistant Professors: Hiromi Tsuchiya Dollase, Haoming Liu; Visiting Instructors: Yuko Matsubara, Anne Parries.

Requirements for Chinese or Japanese Concentration: 13 units (12 units if the student starts language study from the intermediate level or above) chosen from the Chinese-Japanese curriculum, including the required Chinese-Japanese 120, Chinese/Japanese 305-306, and the four additional content courses. At least two of the content courses must be at the 300-level. (Both Chinese/Japanese 350 and 351 can be counted toward the major, but only one can be counted toward the 300-level content course requirement.) Courses on the approved course list can be taken to fulfill the major requirements upon departmental approval. NRO option is not allowed after the declaration of major for courses counted toward the major. Courses that are only offered pass/fail (such as Independent Study and Field Work) cannot count toward the major. Majors are encouraged to take Chinese-Japanese 120 as early as possible. For students seeking to double major in Chinese and Japanese, or double major in Chinese/Japanese and another discipline, no more than two units may be double counted.

Junior Year Abroad and summer courses may substitute for the required courses with department approval. The department strongly encourages students to study abroad in China or Japan and commits to providing the students with supervised study away programs. The courses of Vassar’s summer programs in China and Japan are equivalent to their respective on-campus courses.

Honors’ Requirements: Students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must complete a thesis or project of sufficient quality. A thesis is normally written in both semesters of the senior year. A senior project may be done either as a one-unit course in one semester, or a half-unit course in each of two semesters.

Requirements for the Correlate Sequence in Chinese or Japanese: 6 units chosen from among Chinese 160/360 and Chinese or Japanese 105, 106, 205, 206, 298, 305, 306, 350, 351, and 399; at least 5 units must be taken above the 100-level and two courses must be taken at the 300-level. Junior Year Abroad and summer courses may be substituted with departmental approval, but at least 4 units must be taken at Vassar. Courses available for letter grades must be taken for letter grades.

Departmental courses are arranged in three groups: 1) courses in Chinese-Japanese literary and cultural studies (CHJA); 2) courses in Chinese language and literary/cultural studies (CHIN); and 3) courses in Japanese language and literary/cultural studies (JAPA).

Chinese-Japanese (CHJA)

120a. Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Literature: Traditions, Genres and Methodology(1)

This course is an introduction to the literary traditions of China and Japan. It focuses on the exploration of the literary principles through the representative works in different genres, including myths, poetry, drama, and classical and vernacular narratives. Thematic comparison between the two traditions is drawn in the discussion; cinematic adaptations of chosen works and contextual materials are viewed during the course. Assignments emphasize the development of basic skills on writing about literary and cultural topics and texts. All readings and discussions are in English. Ms. Qiu.

Open to all students.

120b. Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Literature(1)

This course introduces some of the major works of Chinese and Japanese literature, including philosophical works, novels and films. Thematically, the course is organized around the way that major intellectual trends influence one another in particular texts. We see how Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist values and concepts resonate in a variety of literary genres in two rich cultures that have deeply influenced one another. From the Chinese tradition, we examine the love storyDream of the Red Chamber, the war novel Three Kingdoms, the erotic novel Carnal Prayer Mat, and the macabre short stories of Bu Songling. From the Japanese tradition, we read the classic novel The Tale of Genji and the haiku poetry of Basho. At the end of the course, we examine the interaction of modernity and classic thought in the films Hero by Zhang Yimou and Rashomon by Kurosawa, in Yukio Mishima's controversial novella The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, and in the short stories of Lu Xun. Requirements include brief weekly reaction papers and several papers of medium length, emphasizing the development of basic skills on writing about literary and cultural topics and texts. All readings and discussions are in English. Mr. Van Norden.

Open to freshmen only, satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

[ 250. Special Topics in Chinese and Japanese Literature/Culture ](1)

Topics vary each year. Can be repeated for credit when a new topic is offered.

Possible topics include:

  1. Chinese and Japanese Linguistics and Culture.
  2. Experiencing the Other: Representation of Each Other in Chinese and Western Literature since the Eighteenth Century. Mr. Liu.
  3. Masterpieces of Classical Japanese Literature. Ms. Qiu.
  4. Introduction to Chinese Literature: Poetry and Fiction. Mr. Du.
  5. Japanese Poetry. Ms. Qiu.

Not offered in 2009/10.

290a or b. Field Work(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail. The department.

Prerequisite: 2 units of Chinese or Japanese.

298a or b. Independent Study(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail. The department.

Prerequisite: 2 units of Chinese or Japanese.

300a-301b. Senior Thesis(1/2, 1/2)

Open only to majors. The department.

Permission required.

302a or b. Senior Project(1)

Open only to majors. One-unit project done in one semester. The department.

Permission required.

303a-304b. Senior Project(1/2, 1/2)

Open only to majors. One-unit project done in two semesters. The department.

Permission required.

[ 350. Seminar in Chinese Philosophy: Comparative Methodology ](1)

(Same as Philosophy 350) An exploration of some of the methodological issues raised by the prospect of one culture understanding and making judgments about another. The course considers essays on ethical and cognitive relativism, incommensurability, and the hermeneutics of suspicion and faith. Although the focus is primarily methodological, recent Western approaches to understanding Chinese philosophy provide test cases for some of the theories examined. Mr. Van Norden.

Prerequisite: a 200-level course in Chinese, Japanese, Asian Studies or Philosophy.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 361. Chinese and Japanese Drama and Theatre ](1)

(Same as Drama 361) A study of Chinese and Japanese culture and society through well-known dramatic genres—zaju, chuanqi, kunqu, Beijing Opera, modern Spoken Drama, noh, kyogen, bunraku, kabuki, and New Drama; a close reading of selected plays in English translation. Scheduled films of performances convey Chinese and Japanese theatrical conventions and aesthetics. Discussions focus on major themes based on research presentations. All readings and discussions are in English. Mr. Du.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in language, literature, culture, drama or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 362. Women in Japanese and Chinese Literature ](1)

(Same as Women's Studies 362) An intercultural examination of the images of women presented in Japanese and Chinese narrative, drama, and poetry from their early emergence to the modern period. While giving critical attention to aesthetic issues and the gendered voices in representative works, the course also provides a comparative view of the dynamic changes in women's roles in Japan and China. All selections are in English translation. Ms. Qiu.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in language, literature, culture or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

363b. Seminar in Transcending the Limit: Literary Theory in the East-West Context(1)

This course examines various traditional and contemporary literary theories with a distinct Asianist—particularly East Asianist—perspective. At least since the eighteenth century, Western theoretical discourse often took into serious consideration East Asian literature, language and civilization in their construction of "universal" theoretical discourses. The comparative approach to literary theory becomes imperative in contemporary theoretical discourse as we move toward ever greater global integration. Selected theoretical texts from the I Ching, Hegel, Genette, Barthes, Derrida, Todorov, and Heidegger as well as some primary literary texts are among the required readings. All readings are in English. Mr. Liu.

Prerequisite: one literature course or permission of instructor.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the Chair. Offered only pass/fail. Prerequisite: 4 units of Chinese or Japanese. The department.

Chinese (CHIN)

105a-106b. Elementary Chinese(1 1/2)

An introduction to Mandarin Chinese (putong hua or guo yu). While the approach is aural-lingual, reading and writing skills are introduced early in the program. The two semesters cover about 700 characters. Grammatical analysis, pattern drills, and conversational practices are stressed throughout. Mr. Du.

Open to all students.

Five 50-minute periods.

[ 160. Introduction to Classical Chinese ](1)

This course is an introduction to Classical Chinese (the Chinese equivalent of Latin) for students with no previous training or background in Chinese. Classical Chinese is the literary language in which almost all of Chinese literature was written prior to the twentieth century. This course introduces students to the rudiments of reading Classical Chinese, with an emphasis on early Chinese philosophical texts. No previous background in Chinese language, history, or culture is required. Among the texts to be studied are passages from the sayings of Confucius and Taoist works. Mr. Van Norden.

Open to all students.

Does not satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement.

Not offered in 2009/10.

205a-206b. Intermediate Chinese(1 1/2)

Further practice in conversation and learned patterns; acquisition of new grammatical structures, vocabulary, and about 700 additional characters. Emphasis on communicative skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing., Ms. Parries.

Prerequisite: Chinese 105-106 or permission of instructor.

Five 50-minute periods.

[ 214. The Tumultuous Century: Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature ](1)

(Same as Asian Studies 214) This is a survey/introduction to the literature of China from the late Qing Dynasty through the present day. Texts are arranged according to trends and schools as well as to their chronological order. Authors include Wu Jianren, Lu Xun, Zhang Ailing, Ding Ling, Mo Yan and Gao Xingjian. All major genres are covered but the focus is on fiction. A few feature films are also included in association with some of the literary works and movements. No knowledge of the Chinese language, Chinese history, or culture is required for taking the course. All readings and class discussions are in English. Mr. Liu.

Prerequisite: one course in language, literature, culture or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 215. Masterpieces of Traditional Chinese Literature ](1)

Selected works of classical Chinese literature from a variety of periods and genres, such as the Book of Odes (early lyric poetry), the Tang Dynasty poems of Li Bo and Du Fu, historical narratives, including selections from the Book of Documents and the Zuo Zhuan, and the classic Chinese novels, such as Three Kingdoms, The Scholars, and Dream of the Red Chamber. We shall discuss and interpret these texts from a variety of perspectives, including historical, structuralist, philosophical, feminist and "hermeneutics of suspicion." Assignments include brief weekly essays. Mr. Van Norden.

Prerequisite: one course in any humanities discipline, or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 216. Classics, Canon, and Commentary in China ](1)

Studying classic or canonical texts through commentarial traditions is a near universal form of education in pre-modern cultures. This course examines the nature, development and evolution of canons and commentaries, focusing on the immensely influential Five Classics and the Four Books of the Chinese tradition. We also read and discuss seminal Western discussions of canonicity and hermeneutics, including works by Emerson, Jaroslav Pelikan, and Alasdair MacIntyre. Mr. Van Norden.

Prerequisite: one course in any humanities discipline, or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

217a. Chinese Film and Contemporary Fiction(1)

An introduction to Chinese film through its adaptations of contemporary stories. Focus is on internationally well-known films by the fifth and sixth generation of directors since the late 1980s. Early Chinese films from the 1930s to the 1970s are also included in the screenings. The format of the course is to read a series of stories in English translations and to view their respective cinematic versions. The discussions concentrate on cultural and social aspects as well as on comparison of themes and viewpoints in the two genres. The interrelations between texts and visual images are also explored. Mr. Du.

Prerequisite: one course in language, literature, culture, film, drama, or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

[ 218. Chinese Popular Culture ](1)

The course analyzes contemporary Chinese entertainment and popular culture. It provides both historical coverage and grounding in various theoretical and methodological problems. Topics focus on thematic contents and forms of entertainment through television, radio, newspaper, cinema, theatre, music, print and material culture. The course also examines the relations between the heritage of traditional Chinese entertainment and the influences of Western culture. All readings and class discussions are in English. Mr. Du.

Prerequisite: one course in language, literature, culture, film, drama, or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

290a or b. Field Work(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail. The department.

Prerequisite: 2 units of Chinese.

298a or b. Independent Study(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail. The department.

Prerequisite: 2 units of Chinese.

300a-301b. Senior Thesis(1/2, 1/2)

Open only to majors. The department.

Permission required.

302a or b. Senior Project(1)

Open only to majors. One-unit project done in one semester. The department.

Permission required.

303a-304b. Senior Project(1/2, 1/2)

Open only to majors. One-unit project done in two semesters. The department.

Permission required.

305a/306b. Advanced Chinese(1)

Intensive instruction in the reading of Chinese language materials, reflecting aspects of a changing China. Emphasis is on communicative skills. Mr. Liu.

Prerequisite: Chinese 205-206 or permission of instructor

350a. Advanced Readings in Chinese: Genres and Themes(1)

This course is equivalent to a fourth-year Chinese course or beyond, and may be repeated for credit if topic changes. The course aims to further develop the advanced students' speaking, reading and writing proficiency. The course explores different genres of texts from various journalistic and literary writings. Readings are arranged according to thematic topics. Course discussions and lectures are conducted in Chinese. Ms. Parries.

Prerequisite: Chinese 306 or permission of instructor.

351b. Advanced Readings of Original Literary Works(1)

This course is equivalent to a fourth-year Chinese course or beyond, and may be repeated for credit if topic changes. This course involves close reading of a single literary work of an extensive length, shorter texts of a single author, or texts which have a common thematic interest. Emphasis is on baihua literature while samples of semi-wenyan texts are introduced. Through close reading and classroom discussion of the material, students are trained to approach authentic texts with linguistic confidence and useful methods. Course discussions and lectures are conducted in Chinese. Ms. Parries.

Prerequisite: Chinese 306 or permission of instructor.

[ 360. Classical Chinese ](1)

This course is for students with at least two years of modern Chinese or the equivalent. It introduces students to the rudiments of reading Wenyan, or Classical Chinese (the Chinese equivalent of Latin), with an emphasis on early Chinese philosophical texts. In addition to learning Classical Chinese, students in this course work with and are tested on modern Chinese translations of the classical texts. Mr. Van Norden.

Prerequisite: Chinese 205-206 or equivalent.

Not offered in 2009/10.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail. The department.

Prerequisite: 4 units of Chinese.

Japanese (JAPA)

105-106. Elementary Japanese(1 1/2)

An introduction to modern Japanese. Students develop communicative skills based on the fundamentals of grammar, vocabulary and conversational expressions. Emphasis is placed on both oral and written proficiency. The course introduces hiragana and katakana syllabaries as well as approximately 150 kanji (Chinese characters). Ms. Qiu, Ms. Dollase.

Open to all students.

Five 50-minute periods.

205-206. Intermediate Japanese(3)

This course puts equal emphasis on the further development of oral-aural proficiency and reading-writing skills with an intense review of basic grammar as well as an introduction of more advanced grammar, new vocabulary, expressions, and another 350 kanji (Chinese characters). Ms. Matsubara, Ms Qiu.

Prerequisite: Japanese 105-106 or permission of instructor.

Five 50-minute periods.

222. Narratives of Japan: Fiction and Film(1)

(Same as Asian Studies and Media Studies 222) This course examines the characteristics of Japanese narratives in written and cinematic forms. Through selected novels and films that are based on the literary works or related to them thematically, the course explores the different ways in which Japanese fiction and film tell a story and how each work interacts with the time and culture that produced it. While appreciating the aesthetic pursuit of each author or film director, attention is also given to the interplay of tradition and modernity in the cinematic representation of the literary masterpieces and themes. No previous knowledge of Japanese language is required. Ms. Qiu.

Prerequisite: one course in language, literature, culture, film or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

[ 223. The Gothic and the Supernatural in Japanese Literature ](1)

This course introduces students to Japanese supernatural stories. We interpret the hidden psyche of the Japanese people and culture that create such bizarre tales. We see not only to what extent the supernatural creatures — demons, vampires, and mountain witches — in these stories represent the "hysteria" of Japanese commoners resulting from social and cultural oppression, but also to what extent these supernatural motifs have been adopted and modified by writers of various literary periods. This course consists of four parts; female ghosts, master authors of ghost stories, Gothic fantasy and dark urban psyche. Ms. Dollase.

Prerequisite: one course in language, literature, culture or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

224a. Japanese Popular Culture and Literature(1)

This course examines Japanese popular culture as seen through popular fiction. Works by such writers as Murakami Haruki, Yoshimoto Banana, Murakami Ryu, Yamada Eimi, etc. who emerged in the late 1980s to the early 1990s, are discussed. Literary works are compared with various popular media such as film, music, manga, and animation to see how popular youth culture is constructed and reflects young people's views on social conditions. Theoretical readings are assigned. This course emphasizes discussion and requires research presentations. This course is conducted in English. Ms. Dollase.

Prerequisite: one course in language, literature, culture or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

290a or b. Field Work(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail. The department.

Prerequisite: 2 units of Japanese.

298a or b. Independent Study(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail.

Prerequisite: 2 units of Japanese. The department.

300a-301b. Senior Thesis(1/2, 1/2)

Open only to majors. The department.

Permission required.

302a or b. Senior Project(1)

Open only to majors. One-unit project done in one semester. The department.

Permission required.

303a-304b. Senior Project(1/2, 1/2)

Open only to majors. One-unit project done in two semesters. The department.

Permission required.

305a/306b. Advanced Japanese(1)

This course is designed to develop each student's ability to read contemporary Japanese text from newspapers, magazines, and literary works, with a solid grammatical foundation and mastery of kanji, as well as gaining proficiency in writing at an advanced level. Continued training in aural-oral proficiency in spoken Japanese through exercises, classroom interactions and audio-visual materials. Ms. Dollase, Ms. Matsubara.

Prerequisite: Japanese 205-206 or permission of instructor.

324a. Japanese Popular Culture and Literature for Majors(1)

This course examines Japanese popular culture via fiction, manga and film. As the popularity of Japanese manga and animation has risen and globalized, Japanese popular culture has become the target of academic research. Japanese Pop Culture represents not only Japanese youth culture but also the conditions of society as a whole, often embodying highly political issues. Popular culture is an arena in which the socially subordinate can express their desires: various kinds of power issues are inevitably revealed through its study. The goal of this course is to examine the importance and validity of the academic study of popular culture. We discuss such issues as the difference between high and low culture, and between Junbungaku (pure literature) and Taishu bungaku (popular literature). We also discuss the reasons for the fascination with Japanese Popular Culture both in Japan and abroad, examining its originality and attraction. This course also introduces students to basic theoretical reading on popular cultural studies. We discuss how theoretical readings are applied to the materials chosen for this course.

JAPA 324 is combined with JAPA 224, but is designed for advanced Japanese students. At the 324 level, students engage in various language related projects (such as translation of original texts, reaction papers in Japanese, etc.) in addition to class participation in English. Each student or a group of a few students are assigned one literary or manga work to translate into English. Weekly consultation with the instructor is required. Translation should be done before October break. The complete work is shared in class in the format of image file. Ms. Dollase.

Prerequisite: Japanese 351 or above, or permission of instructor. Not open to students who have previously taken 224.

350a. Advanced Readings in Japanese: Genres and Themes(1)

This course is equivalent to a fourth-year Japanese course or beyond, and may be repeated for credit if topic changes. The aim of this course is to further develop the advanced students' speaking, reading, and writing proficiency. The course explores different genres of texts ranging from contemporary Japanese media sources to literature. Readings are arranged according to thematic topics. Discussions and lectures are conducted entirely in Japanese. Ms. Matsubara.

Prerequisite: Japanese 306 or permission of instructor.

351b. Advanced Readings of Original Literary Works(1)

This course is equivalent to a fourth-year Japanese course or beyond, and may be repeated for credit if topic changes. This course involves close reading of a single literary work of an extensive length, shorter texts of a single author, or texts which have a common thematic interest. Through close reading and classroom discussion of the material, students are trained to approach authentic texts with linguistic confidence and useful methods. Discussions and lectures are conducted entirely in Japanese. Ms. Matsubara.

Prerequisite: Japanese 306 or permission of instructor.

[ 364. The West in Japanese Literature since the Nineteenth Century ](1)

This course examines the influence of the West on Japanese literature after the nineteenth century and follows the process of the construction of modern Japanese identity. Authors may include: Natsume Sôseki, Akuagawa Ryûnosuke, Tanizaki Junichirô, Kojima Nobuo, Murakami Ryû and Yamada Amy. Translated Japanese literary works are closely read, and various theoretical readings are assigned. This course emphasizes discussion and requires research presentations. This course is conducted in English. Ms. Dollase.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in language, literature, culture or Asian Studies, or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

One-half or one- unit of credit given only in exceptional cases and by permission of the chair. Offered only pass/fail. The department.

Prerequisite: 4 units of Japanese.

Summer Program in China

The summer program in Qingdao University, China, is open to all Vassar students. Each session of the program lasts nine weeks from late May to late July. Based on the level of language instruction needed by participating students, the program offers, in a particular year, the possibility of following intensive elementary, intermediate, and advanced courses. For information, please consult the department.

105a-106b. Elementary Chinese(1 1/2)

An introduction to Mandarin Chinese (putong hua or guo yu). While the approach is aural-lingual, reading and writing skills are introduced early in the program. The two semesters cover about 700 characters. Grammatical analysis, pattern drills, and conversational practices are stressed throughout. Mr. Du.

Open to all students.

Five 50-minute periods.

201. Special Topics(1)

When necessary, students may petition for approval to enroll in university course work or special academic internships associated with an advanced language course.

205a-206b. Intermediate Chinese(1 1/2)

Further practice in conversation and learned patterns; acquisition of new grammatical structures, vocabulary, and about 700 additional characters. Emphasis on communicative skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing., Ms. Parries.

Prerequisite: Chinese 105-106 or permission of instructor.

Five 50-minute periods.

305-306. Advanced Chinese(2)

Intensified instruction in the reading of original Chinese language materials, reflecting aspects of a changing China. Emphasis is on communicative skills. This 3-unit intensive course covers content similar to that of the on-campus Chinese 305-306.

Prerequisite: Chinese 205-206 or permission of instructor.

340-341. Advanced Readings in Modern Chinese(2)

This sequence course is equivalent to fourth-year Chinese or beyond. The course aims to further develop the advanced students' speaking, reading and writing proficiency. Readings include modern and contemporary literary works, journalistic writings, and other nonliterary texts. Readings are arranged according to topics and the course may be repeated if topics are different.

Prerequisite: Chinese 306 or permission of instructor.

Summer Program in Japan

The program is open to all Vassar students. It offers eight weeks of intensive language instruction and cultural immersion opportunities at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo, starting in early June and continuing through the end of July. Different levels of Japanese language courses are offered in a particular year based on the needs of the participants. In the summer of 2010, the following course will be offered:

205-206. Intermediate Japanese(3)

This course puts equal emphasis on the further development of oral-aural proficiency and reading-writing skills with an intense review of basic grammar as well as an introduction of more advanced grammar, new vocabulary, expressions, and another 350 kanji (Chinese characters). This intensive 3-unit course covers content similar to that of the on-campus Japanese 205-206.

Prerequisite: Japanese 105-106 or permission of instructor.