LSCS 3263 – Chinese Culture and Civilization
Trying to interpret the thoughts, feelings and culture of one of the broadest and most diverse societies is no simple task. China is one of the four ancient civilizations and is home to more than one billion people. Understanding its rich and distinct cultural wealth presents myriad opportunities for CLS students and professionals the world over.
Drawing on a broad range of learning materials and assignment options, this interdisciplinary survey course explores the dynamic history and contemporary legacy of Chinese culture and society. Topics range from early Chinese writing to the opening performance of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The course is designed to cultivate an appreciation and understanding of Chinese culture through rich historical narratives, vignettes from contemporary society, nuanced biographical sketches, in-depth philosophical discussions, powerful period films, analysis of pivotal moments in history and contemplation of classical poetry and art. Assignment topics, chosen by students from lists in each unit, explore China’s past and draw connections to the present.
Each of the first three units of this course integrate a chronological history from the beautifully illustrated Ebrey (2010) textbook, advice from two quality guidebooks written for Westerners going to China, and a critically acclaimed movie set in the time period being studied. The materials from the guidebooks illustrate the links between the history and contemporary society. As students learn about the rise of formal bureaucracy during the Han Dynasty, for example, they study basic protocol in contemporary business settings. The historical films provide a flavor of life in the era. When studying the collapse of China’s long dynastic history in the late 19th century, for example, students supplement their learning by watching The Last Emperor. For the course finale, the closing unit involves an interdisciplinary analysis of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Integrating the use of text, film and contemporary media, this course brings Chinese culture and civilization to life inside the virtual CLS classroom. Throughout the course, students are offered unique ways to engage with the course material and ultimately leave the class with the cultural fluency needed to thrive in contemporary China.
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