Columbia's "World Humanities" Offerings (2)

Continuing ...


CLME G4227y The Islamic Context of the Arabian Nights since the Establishment of Baghdad 3 pts. Prerequisites: No prior knowledge of Arabic language is required. This course questions the popular assumption that the tales of the Thousand and One Nights lack any Islamic content and that their fantastic or erotic dimensions are the only dynamic narrative components behind the vogue. This collection is read against a number of contemporaneous writings (in English translation), including al-Hamadan's Manama, to discuss issues that relate to market inspectorships, economy, social order, marginal groups like the mad, the use of public space including the hammed, and the position on fate, destiny, time, afterlife, sex and love. The course takes its starting point from classical Arabic narratives, poetry and epistolary art and follows up the growth of this repository as it conveys, reveals, or debates Islamic tenets and jurists' stand. The course aspires to provide students with a solid and wide range of information and knowledge on Islamic culture since the emergence of the Islamic center in Baghdad (b. 762). Students are expected to develop a critical method and insightful analysis in dealing with the text, its contemporaneous works from among the belletristic tradition and popular lore, its adaptations, and use and misuse in Arabic culture since the ninth century.


MDES G4247x Islamicate Culture in its Islamic and Jewish Forms 3 pts. The historian Marshall Hodgson invented the term "Islamicate" to refer to cultural phenomena which do not pertain to the Islamic religion but which have been historically associated with places in which Muslims live. Thus a synagogue built in Egypt might exhibit Islamicate architecture but would have no formal association with Islam itself. In this course we will read some of the great works written by Muslims and Jews in the medieval Islamic world. We will examine what features of these works made them appealing across religious boundaries. We will explore what makes a work Islamicate and in what ways these features were considered by these authors to be separate from Islam itself. Thus, for example, we will investigate how the works of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides can be Islamicate, but not Islamic and how this made it possible for them to be read and enjoyed by Muslim audiences. All texts will be provided in English translation.


MDES G4623x India Before Colonialism: Culture, Society, Polity 3 pts.Not offered in 2013-2014. This course is designed as an introduction to core topics in the study of South Asia prior to 1800. The course is intended for MA and beginning PhD students as well as upper-level undergraduates who have already taken at least one course in South Asian Studies. It will expose students to the most important new scholarship on cultural, social and political dimensions of the subcontinent during the pre-colonial era. The course will explore three areas of inquiry. The first and most straightforward will look into what we are learning about the actual organization of knowledge in traditional India. The second is how do the readings help us measure, retrospectively, the transformation of knowledge acquisition introduced by European colonialism. The third area concerns questions of scholarship itself; how are objects of analysis identified, or created, in these texts; how is evidence deployed, arguments formulated and knowledge advanced?


CLME G4626x Indo-Persian Literary Culture 3 pts.Not offered in 2013-2014. A wide-ranging exploration of the multiple dimensions and spaces of textual productions of the Indo-Persian literary civilization, from the 10th to the 18th century, examining major texts written in Persian in South Asia (from the qasidas and the masnavis of Mas'ud-e Sa'd Salman and Amir Khusraw to the linguistic writings of Siraj al-Din Arzu), in the context of larger socio-historical and linguistic developments. Special attention paid to the relationship between Persian as a cosmopolitan language in the Subcontinent and the wider Persian-writing and Islamic world, and on the relevant issues of multilingualism and aesthetic transitions.

MDES G4721x Epics and Empires: Shahnameh 3 pts.Not offered in 2013-2014.

CLME G4725x Memory & History in Persian Literature 3 pts.Not offered in 2013-2014. A discussion-based seminar exploring the role and use of memory in the broad domain of Persian textual culture, addressing the relationship between memory and literary creation and reproduction, the tradition of memorialistic and (auto)biographical writings, and the construction and reception of historical identity in the literary space. Special attention paid to the development of the tazkira-genre (broadly speaking, "biography") in Iran and South Asia and the role of the representation of the literary past in shaping ideas of "tradition" and "newness" in the eastern Islamic world.


EARL W4310y Life-Writing in Tibetan Buddhist Literature 4 pts. This course engages the genre of life writing in Tibetan Buddhist culture, addressing the permeable and fluid nature of this important sphere of Tibetan literature. Through Tibetan biographies, hagiographies, and autobiographies, the class will consider questions about how life-writing overlaps with religious doctrine, philosophy, and history. For comparative purposes, we will read life writing from Western (and Japanese or Chinese) authors, for instance accounts of the lives of Christian saints, raising questions about the cultural relativity of what makes up a life's story. Global Core.


AHUM V3830y Colloquium On Modern East Asian Texts 4 pts.AHUM V3400 is recommended as background. Introduction to and exploration of modern East Asian literature through close reading and discussion of selected masterpieces from the 1890s through the 1990s by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writers such as Mori Ogai, Wu Jianren, Natsume Soseki, Lu Xun, Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Shen Congwen, Ding Ling, Eileen Chang, Yi Sang, Oe Kenzaburo, O Chong-hui, and others. Emphasis will be on cultural and intellectual issues and on how literary forms manifested, constructed, or responded to rapidly shifting experiences of modernity in East Asia. Global Core.


AHUM W4029x Colloquium on Major Works of Chinese Philosophy, Religion, and Literature 4 pts. Prerequisites: AHUM 3400, ASCE V2361, or ASCE V2002. Reading and discussion of major works of Chinese philosophy, religion, and literature, including important texts of the Buddhist and Neo-Confucian traditions. Sequence with AHUM W4030, but either may be taken separately if the student has adequate preparation.


AHUM W4030y Colloquium on Major Works of Japanese Philosophy 4 pts. Prerequisites: AHUM V3400ASCE V2361, or ASCE V2002 Reading and discussion of major works of Japanese philosophy, religion, and literature from the 14th through 18th centuries. Major Cultures Requirement: East Asian Civilization List B. Global Core.


EAAS W3928x Japanese Literature: Beginning to 1900 3 pts. An examination of the major genres -- poetry, prose fiction, historical narrative, drama, and philosophical writing -- of Japanese literature from the ancient period up to 1900 as they relate to larger historical changes and social, political and religious cross-currents. Major Cultures Requirement: East Asian Civilization List B.


EAAS W4009y Introduction to Classical Chinese Poetry 3 pts. This course introduces Classical Chinese poetry from its beginnings to the Song dynasty (960-1279). Readings consist entirely of primary texts in English translation.


EAAS W4031x or y Introduction to the History of Chinese Literature 3 pts. An introduction to the major narrative genres, forms and works from the beginning through to 900 C.E. Readings in English. Major Cultures Requirement: East Asian Civilization List B.


EAAS W4031y Introduction to the History of Chinese Literature (9th Century through the 19th Century) ENG 3 pts. An introduction to the major narrative genres, forms and works from the 9th Century through the 19th Century. Readings in English.


EAAS W4553 Survey of Tibetan Literature 4 pts. An introduction to Tibetan literary works (all in English translation) spanning fourteen centuries, form the Tibetan imperial period to the present-day. Close readings of texts and discussion of the genres they represent are supplemented by biographical material for each author. Special emphasis is placed on vernacular and popular literature, as well as landmark works from the post-Mao period. The questions explored include: What are the origins or inspiration for the literary work(s) assigned? In what ways have Tibetan literary forms and content developed throughout history? How has the very concept of "Tibetan literature" been conceived, especially vis a vis works by Tibetan authors writing in Chinese and English? Above all, how have Tibetan writers and scholars - past and present - negotiated literary innovation?


In the above, I have also tried to exclude (as I did for Harvard) courses that requires language skills. On my 5 criticism of Harvard's curriculum, here is how Columbia seems to compare


1.Not studying canonical history texts - Columbia a tiny bit better than Harvard in that Herodotus and Thucycdides are in the Core Curriculum.


2. No surveys of global or regional historiographical traditions (except one optional seminar for History Majors) - Columbia more explicit courses on this than Harvard - has a course on Historiography of East Asia focusing on traditional texts.


3. No world-wide intellectual history survey course - Columbia also has none.


4. Insufficient courses on specific non-Western authors/texts - Columbia is probably even worse than Harvard. But Columbia is better than Harvard in that it surveys more of the sub-traditions and their canonical texts (e.g. Hindu Bhakti, Indo-Persian, serial courses on Chinese and Japanese literatures.) Also courses are also more "schematic" and less "issues-based." 



5. Relative weakness in on South Asian tradition (vs. Harvard's other Departments) - I have to say that Columbia is a bit more balanced than Harvard in that from the scan East Asia is the prime focus, but it is not clear South Asia is much "shorted" vs. Middle-East / Islamic tradition(s). 


Generally the focus that surfaced from Columbia's bulletin is that it is more based on traditional texts. On their MESSAS and East Asian deparments there are also quite a bit of courses on contemporary issues. Also, just like Harvard, Columbia also seems to have nothing on Southeast Asia.


The bolded items above are research / curriculum development areas needed "World Humanities" as a field for undergrad education.

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