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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Steven W. Collins
B CUSP 188
Bothell Campus

Topics in Asian Cultures

Introduces the traditional arts, cultures, and history of countries of Asia. Emphasizes the interaction between culture and geography, politics, economies, and social structures that shape, and are shaped by cultural processes and products. Specific countries varies with the instructor and quarter offered. Offered: WSp.

Class description

In the spring 2008 version, we will survey the cultural history of traditional Japan, from the introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century through the end of the era of warrior rule in the 19th century. Our main focus will be the the peak years of samurai rule from the 12th through 16th centuries. This was the formative period in the development of many arts, crafts, and other cultural practices associated with Zen Buddhism and still widely practiced today; these include calligraphy, short poetry (tanka and haiku), Noh theater, landscape painting, tea ceremony, metal working and sword making, and martial arts. We will read and experience representative examples of the arts and literature of this period, situate them in the context of Japanís cultural and political history, create some tanka and haiku of our own, experience nature in a Japanese garden, and participate in a tea gathering.

Student learning goals

Gain basic understanding of the historical development of Japanese culture and civilization.

Develop insights into the relationship between culture and the historical, political, and social context in which it develops.

Acquire the ability to interpret traditional Japanese art, noting especially its representation of nature and human nature, its use of space, connection to indigenous and borrowed religions, and the influences of China and Korea.

Strengthen writing and speaking skills.

Awaken senses to the subtle beauty in nature and artistic power of simplicity and unadorned naturalness.

General method of instruction

Mix of lecture, full-class discussion, and small-group discussion.

Recommended preparation

The course has no prerequisites. It is designed to be a first college-level course on the history and cultures of Asia.

Class assignments and grading

Varies depending on the quarter, but typically the following: Mid-term exam Three short essays Creative composition (tanka and/or haiku poems with interpretive commentary) Final exam Class participation


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Steven W. Collins
Date: 03/21/2008