Asia-Focus Courses Available in Spring 2021

November 2, 2020

In Spring 2021, Duke faculty will offer several exciting Asia-focus courses, allowing students to explore the intersection of culture, history, religion, and several other academic disciplines. Registration for all courses for the spring term is available online via DukeHub.

These courses can be applied to a degree program and are potentially applicable to the requirements for the undergraduate certificate in East Asian Studies or the graduate certificate in East Asian studies. If you are enrolled at UNC (Chapel Hill, Charlotte, or Greensboro), NC State, or NCCU, check out the inter-institutional registration options.

Click each poster image for a larger version, and read the course descriptions to learn more. All course times are listed in the Eastern US timezone.

Course information

Travel Japan (HIST 512S; AMES 512S; EAS 512S) | Prof. Simon Partner | Tues 7:00-9:30PM (online)

This class will take a “grand tour” through Japanese history, through the media of travel experiences. We will read the travel diaries of 11thcentury courtiers. We’ll study the highway system and the explosion of leisure travel during the Tokugawa era. We’ll look at pilgrimage tourism in the early modern and modern eras. We’ll look at Japan through the eyes of foreign visitors in search of the “real” Japan. We’ll look at travel and tourism in the Japanese empire. And we’ll look at the era of mass travel and tourism in the postwar era. We’ll be using travel fiction, diaries, film, maps, ukiyoe prints, and a variety of other media. And we’ll also have some excursions into map-making and the creation of travel “destinations.” Japanese language ability will be helpful but is not required. If you have questions about the class, please write to Prof. Simon Partner.



Translation Theory/Praxis (AMES 551S, LIT 551S -- CCI, ALP) | Prof. Eileen Chow | Mon/Wed 8:30-9:45AM (online)

This seminar examines the histories, theories, and praxes of translation, with attention to both the formal elements of translating languages as well as the larger cultural and social processes involved.

Topics under discussion include theories and histories of comparative literature, cultural exchange and cultural imperialism, mother tongues and "Global Englishes," incommensurability, bilingual aesthetics, indigeneity and adaptation, language and migration, changing technological platforms, and AI translation.

All participants are expected to have strong command of one language aside from English, as final project involves original translation and commentary.

This is a seminar course.


SP21 Hist 790S-05 course information

Global Connections (HIST 790S-05) | Prof. Prasenjit Duara | Weds 3:30-6:00PM (online)

The goal of the course is to familiarize ourselves with the global and global-local significance that your research may possess by probing the emergent themes and debates in global and ‘circulatory’ histories. We will read about 12 books (plus minus an article or two) over the term with a focus on themes. Topics considered are historical problems of state-building, political systems, economic history, cultural and intellectual history, environment and pandemics. We will seek to evaluate how and which topics the works integrate and the extent to which they succeed in revealing two-way local-global transformations.

All students will write 2-3 paragraph commentary on the readings every week at least an hour before Wed afternoon class. Each week two students will present in consultation with each other, different dimensions or themes in the reading for ten minutes each.

A final paper of 15-20 pages will be expected before the end of exam week. This paper could be a further in-depth study of a global history topic or one which reveals how your research interest may have global relevance.


Rel 265 SP21 course information

Global Confucianism (REL 265; AMES 265 -- CZ, SS, CCI, R) | Prof. Anna Sun | Tues 3:30-6:00PM (online)

Why is Confucianism crucial to our understanding of East Asian Societies? Is Confucianism a Chinese religion or a global religion? What can Confucianism teach us about religion in the global 21st century? Can Confucianism change your life?

This course traces the global development of Confucianism as religious, political, and cultural traditions from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first century. Confucianism has taken a strong hold in East Asia for centuries, leaving distinct legacies in China, Korea, and Japan. But it has also been having significant impact in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and today in North America as well. By examining textual, historical, and ethnographic data, this course focuses on the most recent developments of Confucianism as a religious, ritual, and cultural tradition in diverse societies while taking into account its cultural and political impact on global modernity.


Rel 267 SP21 course information

Spiritual But Not Religious (REL 267; AMES 267 -- CZ, SS, CCI, R) | Prof. Anna Sun | Tues/Thurs 1:45-3:00PM (online)

Ever wonder what "spiritual but not religious" means? Ever wonder who the "religious nones" are? Do you want to learn how to think sociologically about religion and spirituality in our global contemporary world?

This course addresses one of the most pressing questions in the study of religion today: What does it mean to be "spiritual, but not religious?" This is a question frequently appearing in recent surveys, with about a quarter of U.S. adults in a Pew 2017 survey stating that "they think of themselves as spiritual but not religious." The numbers are steadily increasing, especially in the younger generation. In this course, we address the big questions about how to define "religion" and "spirituality," and we use empirical data to acquire a concrete understanding of the lived experience of people who are "spiritual but not religious." We also examine the global nature of this transformation, and in the process gain a deeper understanding of religious traditions in other parts of the world, particularly East Asia.