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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christoph Giebel
HSTAS 530
Seattle Campus

Field Course in Southeast Asian History

Introduces major English-language works on Southeast Asian history and to the major historiographical issues of the era. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 580.

Class description

This course is a theoretical and historiographical introduction to the field of modern Southeast Asian history. We will explore the ways in which the field has recently engaged questions of, inter alia, nationalism, colonialism, and modernity as the notion of “area studies” is being rethought. In our reading of six recent works focusing on specific Southeast Asian countries and/or regional knowledge production, we will analyze how each work fits into the field as a whole and how each work stretches the boundaries of both the discipline of history and the study of the Southeast Asia region. The course is structured on the assumption that students taking the class have some prior knowledge of the field or a specific part of it through coursework or study. Because this course is a research seminar, by the eighth week of the class, students are expected to have formulated a research topic for which they will have Spring quarter to produce a 25 page research paper to be presented next quarter in HSTAS 532, the second research seminar in this sequence. N.B. There may be exceptions to this model for undergraduates enrolled, with instructor permission, in the course.

Student learning goals

by doing the readings and discussing them thoroughly, to acquire a broad understanding of recent developments in the field of Southeast Asian history

by honing one’s personal area of research interest in this field, to improve skills of analysis and composition

by presenting ideas in class each week, to enhance skills of oral communication

General method of instruction

For every seminar meeting where we will focus on a book, one or two student(s) will be assigned as “DJ” (“discussion jolter”) to present a brief analysis of the book and pose at least two written discussion questions. In addition, students might be asked to write several 1-2 pp. thought pieces on books for which they have not been assigned as “DJ.” Students will use the quarter to develop and formulate a proposal for the research paper that they will be working on during the following quarter. Students should set up appointments to meet with Professor Giebel and/or Professor Rafael and/or Professor Sears in the second half of the quarter to discuss their area of research and their theoretical or historiographical approach. Draft research proposals will be circulated towards the end of the quarter and discussed in seminar.

Recommended preparation

Students will have to do the reading conscientiously, take notes on it, ask questions of it, and think deeply about it, all in advance of class.

Class assignments and grading

For every seminar meeting where we will focus on a book, one or two student(s) will be assigned as “DJ” (“discussion jolter”) to present a brief analysis of the book and pose at least two written discussion questions. In addition, students may be asked to write several 1-2 pp. thought pieces on books for which they have not been assigned as “DJ.” Students will use the quarter to develop and formulate a proposal for the research paper that they will be working on during the following quarter. Students should set up appointments to meet with Professor Giebel and/or Professor Rafael and/or Professor Sears in the second half of the quarter to discuss their area of research and their theoretical or historiographical approach. Draft research proposals will be circulated towards the end of the quarter and discussed in seminar.

Students will be graded on their participation in class each week (including the thought pieces) and their ability to serve as discussion leaders for the weeks in which they are assigned to do so. Students will also be graded on the research proposal that they turn in at the end of the quarter. These three areas will contribute to the final grade for the class in roughly equal measure.


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 Christoph Giebel
Date: 10/25/2010