Courses in Asian Studies

Fall 2020


AS 101 Introduction to Asian Studies
Are you interested in a career related to Asia, or considering studying abroad in Asia? Or maybe you just want to know more about its cultures and histories because your classmates, neighbors, and coworkers are from there? What is Asia, anyway, and who and what should we consider Asian? This class is designed to introduce students to the diversity of Asia and to the resources at UB and beyond for studying Asia and Asian diasporas. Students will develop critical thinking and writing skills while exploring the fields of Asian and Asian-American studies. The class will hear from distinguished UB professors who will discuss the latest research, trends, and resources in the field of Asian and Asian-American studies. Students also will start thinking about the impact of developments in Asia on their career goals and be encouraged to consider study abroad opportunities in Asia.

AS 181/HIS 181 Asian Civilization I
Introduction to major themes and events in the histories of China, Korea, Japan, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia in early times. Considers the developments of ways of thought, the emergence of and interactions among states and empires, and artistic and literary movements. Our goal is to understand the historical forces and transformations shaping Asia before about 1600. This course is the same as HIS and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

AS 199 UB Seminar
70 years after gaining independence, and more than a century after beginning its struggle for independence from the Britain, this course will evaluate the legacy of India as both an idea and a reality by asking unresolved questions such asTo what extent has postcolonial India lived up to the promises outlined in the preamble to its 1949 constitution “to secure to all its citizens” justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity? What role has colonialism played in shaping present-day Indian society? How have perceptions of India changed outside India? How (if at all) are they connected with reality of life within India? “The Idea of India” will serve as an introduction to the vexed histories of colonialism, caste, gender, religion, language, and politics in modern India. Students enrolled in the course will examine primary sources and secondary scholarship to understand debates about India’s status (aspiration or actual) as an independent political, cultural, and economic unit. Through online “running notes” and exercises, in-class debates, and a final project, students will employ various media (written, oral, visual) to argue, synthesize, and critically analyze unresolved questions about India’s past, present, and future. We will connect ethical debates about area studies with discussions of academic integrity to explore the broader political implications of how, why, and for whom knowledge gets produced. No prerequisite coursework or experience with Asian Studies is expected prior to the start of the course.       

AS 221 Survey of Asian Literature
This course will introduce students to narratives of romance that span Asia’s wide variety of religious, literary, theatrical, and cinematic traditions. Rather than defining romance by what it contains, we will instead consider what romance as a genre does. Through this approach, it becomes possible to examine why certain narratives were compelling enough to be transmitted across and preserved within a diverse range of cultures and historical periods. Texts include English translations of Sanskrit drama, a Hindi Sufi mystical work, an early Japanese novel, recent Bollywood cinema, Korean television melodramas, and the worldwide Harlequin Romance phenomenon. There are no prerequisites for this class. We will be covering a wide range of materials, and it is essential that students complete assigned readings before class and actively participate in class discussions. All are welcome in this class, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, ethnicity, or religion. I ask that you keep an open mind towards the course materials and be tolerant and respectful of the opinions expressed by your fellow classmates. This course is the same as ENG 222 and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

CHI 280 Survey of Chinese Culture
CHI 280 is an introduction to Chinese Culture. This course does not have pre-requisites. Readings consist of a diversity of material from some of the fields that make up Chinese Studies. This course introduces Chinese culture through discussions of a number of themes including Sinology, philosophy, religion, science, gender, food, politics, literature and mass media. Evaluation in CHI 280 is based on (1) attendance and notetaking, (2) three written in-class quizzes, and (3) an open book written final quiz. The quizzes begin with short answers and gradually work up to longer answers to the final, which consists of two short essays that invite the students to synthesize the material they have read and discussed in class. The short reading/notetaking assignments are given to students at intervals in class. Students must be present to complete these assignments.

AS 333 South Asia Cinema: Bollywood and Beyond
This course is a chronological exploration of Hindi cinema, stretching from the 1940s to the present. With its flashy “item numbers,” “chocolate” heroes, “masala” films, and “playback singers,” Bollywood films offer delights that no other genre can. But beneath its flashy exterior, Bollywood also offers moral lessons for social uplift, provides examples of changing class and family dynamics, tracks the influence of the West on a decidedly South Asian art form, and has its finger perennially on the cultural pulse of India.

AS 369 / HIS 369 Korean History Up To 1800
This course traces roughly two thousand years of Korean history, from tribal federations to the rise of early states that vied with one another for supremacy and the eventual establishment of political rule over the peninsula by a succession of dynastic states Silla, Kory, and Chos. The goal is to familiarize students with the major social, cultural, political, intellectual and religious developments in the Korean peninsula up to the start of the nineteenth century, while at the same time placing these historical developments within the wider regional context of Korea’s relations with China and Japan. For most of East Asia’s history, the people of Korea had more culturally extensive and historically significant contacts with its two neighbors than they had with each other. For this reason, learning about Korea’s history provides a unique window onto premodern East Asia, and the history of these interconnections in turn reveals something important about the formation of a distinctive Korean identity. In addition to reading and being tested on primary and secondary sources on Korean history, students will be expected to demonstrate their ability to discuss and think critically about the material through written assignments. This course is the same as HIS 369 and course repeat rules will apply.  Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

AS 391 / HIS 391 China and the World
Survey of Chinese views of the world order, exchanges in material culture across China’s borders, and the ways in which Chinese governments and people have interacted with the world from the imperial era to the present era of the rise of China. This course is the same as HIS 391, and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

AS 393 / Topics in Asian Studies
Varying topics in Asian studies, chosen by the instructor

KOR411 Introduction to Korean Linguistics
Lays the groundwork for an understanding of how the Korean language operates. No prior knowledge of Korean is necessary, but does require a familiarity with basic linguistic theory. Students are introduced to major phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic characteristics of Korean in light of linguistic/cognitive universals and cross linguistic variations.

AS 492 / HIS 492 Poisons, Drugs, and Panaceas
What is a poison? How do we understand the effects of poisons on our body? How do we make the best use of these potent matters that can benefit us and the society at large? These are some of the fundamental questions to the history of medicine and driving ones for this course. Examining the history of poisons through twelve case studies, we will explore the complexity of poison materiality by contemplating the intimate relations between poison medicines, and foods. We will learn how the experiences of the body shaped the conceived values of poisons. We will examine the circulation of poison knowledge across social and geographical domains. Using specific poisons as the anchor of our analysis, we will explore the social fabric and cultural milieu in which particular ideas and practices of poisons emerged, flourished, or diminished. One key aspect of the course is to introduce a comparative perspective to the study of medical history. By studying above topics in both European/American and Asian contexts, we will identify surprising parallels, strikin differences, and hidden connections between these traditions. Finally, we will ponder how      knowledge of poisons in the past illuminates our notions and habits of ingesting and experiencing drugs today.

**This course is currently being offered as HIS492. If a student registers under HIS92, they will still receive the credit toward AS major.

AS 496 Asian Studies Internship
Are you interested in developing skills in public outreach, online content, podcasting, and social media? Do you want or need 1 to 3 internship credits? Please email to ask about AS internship options for fall or spring 20-21.

AS 498 Senior Research in Asian Studies
A capstone course required for all majors in Asian Studies. Research, writing, and oral presentation of project carried out under the guidance of a faculty member. Please contact an Asian Studies undergraduate advisor before enrolling.



MGG 602 International Business in East Asia
The International Business in Asia program is a 3-credit, virtual learning experience for the fall 2020 semester. The course will include virtual visits to socially minded businesses and nonprofits, as well as networking with alumni and leaders in East Asia. Working in teams, you will work on a project to address a significant issue in the local community, while also participating in cultural activities, such as cooking, dancing and more. With this virtual experience, you can develop your global and diversity mindset—from anywhere in the world.

Spring 2021 Courses

HIS 143 Global Inequality and Power
50% Asia content SP20:The increasing interaction of peoples and nations we call globalization benefits some more than others. This course focuses on the historical origins and consequences of a world divided between the rich and poor, the privileged and excluded, the mainstream and the marginalized. Students will consider, among various topics, the emergence of racial and ethnic categories, which accompanied the divergence of a small number of wealthy nations, primarily in the northern hemisphere, from many more poor ones, primarily in the south. They will examine resulting hierarchies that structure other realms of social life, including gender relations, religious conflict, access to education and technology, and environmental degradation. The course also explores how individuals, communities, and societies have challenged dominant understandings of the world, advanced alternative perspectives, and struggled for social justice.

AS 182 / HIS 182 Asian Civilization II
Introduction to major themes and events in the histories of China, Korea, Japan, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia in recent centuries. Considers the impacts of colonialism and imperialism, the emergence of nationalist and revolutionary movements, decolonization and the Cold War. Our goal is to understand the historical forces and transformations shaping contemporary Asia, the common experiences that different areas of Asia have shared in the recent past, and what distinguishes the histories of particular Asian nations within a comparative perspective.

SSC 317 The Politics of Sustainability – (*with 50% content relating to Asia, satisfies an AS upper level elective requirement!)
Focuses on the relationship between environmental problems and the political process. Explores definitions of an environmentally sustainable society. Then we attempt to answer the question of “how to get there from here.” This involves developing a theory of social change by examining a number of case studies. We also study local environmental controversies from a political perspective through firsthand involvement or guest speakers. We also look at national and international environmental conflicts, such as the backlash against mainstream environmentalism created by the “Wise Use” movement and contemporary political forces championing property rights and states’ rights.

AS 323 Gender in Asian Literature
This course will examine the different ways in which gender is constructed through Asian literature, theatre, and film. It is intended to introduce students to the literature of Asia, foregrounding the ways in which gender shapes different types, or genres, of text, and how different genres of text in turn shape notions of gender. Our task in this course will be to discover the cultural underpinnings of historical and contemporary conceptions of gender, sexuality, and love. Inasmuch as we play out our gender roles our social life, this course will also serve to introduce students to the ways in which performance is embedded in the public culture of Asia. Throughout the semester, students will be required to apply the skills we acquire in our readings on theory to a broad set of materials, including authors from across the length and breadth of Asia. There are no prerequisites for this class and all readings are in English. This course is the same as ENG 327 and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

AS 338 Islam and Literature
The purpose of this course is to expose students to the wide variety of poetic and prose literary forms associated with Islam, including contemporary English-language novels and translations from Arabic, Bengali, Persian, Tamil, and Urdu originals. We will explore literature through a variety of themes and genres common to the literary traditions of these languages. This will serve to frame larger questions central to the study of Islamicate literatures.

AS345 Korean Pop Culture and Hallyu
This course explores contemporary Korean popular culture by engaging in social and cultural representations from the Korean War to the present day. This course will help students to understand current Korean popular culture as well as the Korean Wave (Hallyu) that is spreading across the globe. This course will also help students to grasp contemporary Korean culture and Korean identity; as well as the values and images depicted in modern Korea. It explores diverse topics including music (K-pop), movies, K-dramas, K-beauty, fashion, food, gaming culture, leisure activities, as well as sports. This course is the same as KOR 345 and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

AS 347 The Fantastical World of Japanese Anime
In the past three decades Japanese popular culture has surpassed the technology industry to become Japans largest export. In particular, anime (Japanese animation), the most profitable form of Japanese popular culture, has become increasingly visible all over the world. Although anime fandom in the U.S. is anchored by several works of mass appeal, it remains a subculture whose increasingly influential devotees occupy a cultural fringe. This course introduces students to this unique subculture and introduces an academic approach to viewing the anime art form. In addition to the focus on specific genres of anime, this course will pay special attention to four influential anime directors; Oshii Mamoru, Satoshi Kon, Hosoda Mamoru and Miyazaki Hayao. This course is designed to be interactive, while it builds a rigorous understanding of the anime medium through its history, its artists, and its institutions. Not only will the course focus on critical analysis of films, it will use anime as a medium by which to study Japanese culture at large, with some attention given to production. Taught in English.AS367 Food In Asia

What is food for? This simple question invites us to ponder myriad ways that food connects to our lives, from cooking to eating, from spice to medicine, from the expression of the self to the mediation of social relationship. Not surprisingly, food constitutes a vital aspect of Asian culture that figures saliently both in Asia and beyond. Even without going to Asian, we may all have the experience of tasting sushi, General-Tso¿s chicken, or curry. This course probes the history of food in Asia, exploring both the rich culture of food within Asia and its fast spread to the rest of the world in recent past. Topics covered in this course include the techniques of cooking (we may try ourselves), the religious meanings of food, regional features, food trade, food and colonialism, food and national identity, and Asian food in America. In the end, the course seeks to use the study of dishes and drinks in Asia as a gateway to not just understand the fabric of Asian society but also illuminate our dietary habits and ways of living here and now. [No prior knowledge in Asian languages or history is required.]  This course is the same as AS 367, and course repeat rules will apply.  Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements. AAL

AS 380 Chinese Tradition and Guanxi
Surveys major cultural and traditional elements that have influenced various aspects of contemporary Chinese life. Topics include Chinese philosophical ideals, religion, women, family, education, Chinese language and symbolic reference, literature and art in both traditional and modern China. This course is intended to introduce Chinese culture at its deep level or philosophical value of the Chinese culture. Taught in English; requires no knowledge of Chinese language.

AS390 Chinese Medicine in the World
This course surveys the history of Chinese medicine seen through world history. It focuses on the continuous and dynamic exchange of medical ideas, practices, and materials between China and the rest of the world from antiquity to the present. Rather than treating Chinese medicine as a monolithic, stable, and isolated system of healing, the course highlights its active interactions with other healing cultures throughout history. By offering revealing comparisons and identifying unexpected connections, this course seeks to not just enrich our understanding of the global history of Chinese medicine but also utilize historical knowledge to illuminate our ways of living today. This course is the same as AS 390, and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requir

AS393 Special Topics: Korean Drama and Film
This course offers an introduction to South Korean drama and cinema with attention to Korean culture and history, TV/cinema/visual cultural analysis, and within the contexts Korean cultural global reach also understood as Hallyu or the Korean Wave. Students will study South Korean drama and film through thematics such as historical development, aesthetics, genre, auteur theory, stardom, subtitling, and the politics of distribution. Course activities will comprise of 1) Lecture 2) Discussion 3) Screenings 3) Critical Reading and Writing 4) Student Presentations and 5) Creative Subtitling and Screenplay Exercises. All screenings are subtitled in English and readings are in English. Screenings include films by directors such as Bong Jook Ho, Kim Rye-Lim, Chan Woo Park, and Korean Dramas such as ​Love and Ambition​s, ​500 Years ofJoseon​, Crash Landing, and Mr. Sunshine. Books may include ​H​ yangjin Lee’s ​Contemporary Korean Cinema: Identity, Culture and Politics, ​and Kathleen McHugh and Nancy Abelmann’s South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre, and National Cinema.​ Through rigorous viewings, discussing, reading, writing, students will obtain an introduction to questions on Korean culture, history, politics, aesthetics, and global relations through drama and film.

AS 395 – END 395 Special Topics: Urban China in Transition
This course offers a multi-dimensional exploration of the new urban China. Through projects, students will learn about the unprecedented transformation of contemporary Chinese cities by investigating a diversity of trends in the areas of migration, transportation, suburbanization, walkability and public health because of the new policies and technology advances.

AS 410 Communication in Asia and Pacific Rim Countries
Provides students with knowledge of communication and its related issues in East Asian and Pacific Rim countries, which are going to be the world’s focal point for economy and politics in the next century.

CHI430 Special Topics: Chinese Film and Visual Culture
This course is an introduction to Chinese film and visual culture from the earliest days until the present. Chinese film and media studies are rich fields with links to literature, theater and opera, and visual art. This class invites students to watch, read, and discuss films from several periods and traditions, including auteur films (films by famous directors), genre films (for example, martial arts films), and animated films. This is a film and media studies course. Students will be graded for discussion and participation, short response papers, and one final written essay. This course is taught in English. The films are subtitled in English and the readings are also in English. There are no prerequisites for this course, just an interest in Chinese film and visual culture.

AS 498 Senior Capstone Course
A capstone course required for all majors in Asian Studies. Research, writing, and oral presentation of project carried out under the guidance of a faculty member.

COM 491 Special Topics: Chinese Cinema