Asian Studies

Program Description

Asia, home to a majority of the world's population and birthplace of some of the world's oldest cultures, provides a geographical focal point for a wide variety of courses offered at Gettysburg College. These courses are taught both by members of the Asian Studies Department and by faculty in other academic departments.

A full four years of Japanese language courses are offered, and there are opportunities to study at more advanced levels on an individual or small group basis. At present, three years of Chinese language courses are offered. 

In addition to language study, students may pursue one of four programs: a major in Japanese studies, a major in Chinese studies, a minor in Japanese studies, or a minor in East Asian studies. For students interested in other parts of Asia, a number of relevant courses are regularly available in other departments.

Course Listing

Course level:
100 | 200 | 300 | 400
AS-150 Japanese Culture & Society
An introduction to the culture and society of Japan, exploring themes, issues, and institutions in Japan, as seen through the lens of Japanese culture. The course investigates how Japanese culture evolved within the changing socio-political milieu from the 6th century onward. Major topics include cultural notions used in the construction of self, family, education, work, and religious practice. Students acquire the skills and mindset to facilitate the study of Japan, a non-western culture, in a culturally appropriate manner. Readings in English.


AS-151 Chinese Culture & Society
An introduction to the culture and society of China, exploring themes, issues, and institutions in China, as seen through the lens of Chinese culture. The course investigates how Chinese culture evolved within the changing socio-political milieu from early state formation (~10th c. bce) to the present. Major topics include cultural notions used in the construction of self, family, education, work, and religious practice. Students acquire the skills and mindset to facilitate the study of China, a non-western culture, in a culturally appropriate manner. Readings in English.


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AS-214 East Asian Cultures and Societies: Exploring Connections
Study of Chinese and Japanese cultures and societies from a comparative perspective. This course explores the transnational connections between the two East Asian countries from premodern times to the contemporary. By studying the similarities and differences in various social and cultural topics and issues between China and Japan, students examine and compare the core values and identities of the two cultures. The course prepares students for further study in China and/or Japan. All readings are in English.


AS-222 China: 30 Years in Literature and Film
China: 30 Years in Literature and Film aims to familiarize students with key issues in contemporary China through the medium of literature and film. Key issues and topics include memory and trauma, modernization and globalization, youth and popular culture.


AS-224 Chinese Folklore
Study of the history, transformation, and practices of Chinese folklore both in China and Chinese communities abroad. Focus is on the rich repertoire of Chinese folklore; its representations in literature, pop culture, daily life, and political discourse; and its significant roles in shaping ideas about morality, nation, gender, ethnicity, and heritage; its contribution to the spread of religion, the pursuit of status, and the achievement of modernity. The course helps students to understand the ways Chinese at the grass-roots level live and think.


AS-225 Contemporary Chinese Writers
In the 30 years after the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the literary world of China has undergone various changes that mirror and anticipate social and political shifts. In this course we will read representative works of the so-called scar literature, reflection literature, reform literature, avant-garde literature, new realist literature, and modernist literature. Authors include mainland writers Yu Hua, Mo Yan, Su tong, Wang Anyi, Wang Shuo, Wang Meng, Chi Zijian, as well as Chinese expatriates Gao Xingjian, Ha Jin, Yan Geling, and Dai Sijie. We will also watch a few films that are based on some of the readings for this class.


AS-227 Folktales and Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to China
Study of the history, uses, and reshaping of folktales and fairy tales in the oral, literary, and filmic traditions of both the Western world and China. Focus is on the underlying forces and reasons for the radical transformations of these tales in form and meaning; their significant roles in constructing nation, ethnicity, class, gender, and morality; and their nature as an art form of questioning the larger culture. It introduces the methods of narrative analysis and cultural criticism in folktale research.


AS-229 Tourism and Culture in China
Study of the literary and bodily encounters between places, people, capital, and cultures in the context of China’s modernization and globalization. Students read historical and contemporary travel writings, view documentary films, and analyze ethnographically-based research to explore what happens on the meeting grounds between "hosts" and "guests" and how these encounters shape landscapes, nation building, ethnic identities, traditions, and gender and class boundaries. All readings are in English. Prerequisites: One of the following courses: ANTH103, ANTH 106, HIST 103, HIST 106, HIST 110, HIST 301, REL 101, or ARTH 131. Cross-listed with Asian Studies.


AS-237 Japan in Film
Japanese culture that is depicted in international cinema does not address this society in all its complexity. This course utilizes influential Japanese films whose themes touch on Japanese society in areas such as gender and sexuality, popular culture, politics, crime/deviance, and ethnic identity. The films in this course are utilized as a way into a deeper analysis of Japanese society, not only in comparison to Western culture but also as a means to understand Japan in its own terms.


AS-238 Classical Japanese Literature and its Modern Interpretations
Survey of Japanese literature, beginning with the creation myth recorded in 712 and continuing to the dramatic arts of the 1600s. Course examines legends, folk tales, fairy tales, poetic anthologies, diaries and fiction. Lecture/ discussion format. Readings in English; no knowledge of Japanese required.


AS-247 What is REAL? Extraordinary Fiction in Japan and the World
Study of various permutations of the science fiction genre-legends, fairy tales, myths, supernatural and futuristic short stories, and novels. Major emphasis is on Japanese works, with cross-cultural comparisons to offer diverse perspectives. Course focuses on the literary analysis of the individual texts, while exploring the real purpose served by these unreal creations. Reading in English.


AS-248 Traditional Japanese Theatre
Study of traditional Japanese theatre, focusing on Noh, Bunraku Puppet Theatre, and Kabuki from the fourteenth century to the present. The course examines major theories and a variety of representative plays of the three theatrical forms and investigates their artistic, religious, and socio-cultural significances. Emphasis is on adaptation of literary canons, treatment of convention, seminal playwrights, and performance styles. Instruction in performing Noh chanting and dancing unites theory and performance to deepen understandings of the non-western tradition. Readings in English


AS-250 The Ebb and Flow: Japanese Women's Literature-The First 1200 Years
Examination of a variety of Japanese women writers, genres, and movements ranging from 800 to 2002. Using feminist and other literary criticism, the course analyzes the category Joryubungaku (women's literature) and its import in relation to the Japanese literary canon. Authors include Murasaki Shikibu, Enchi Fumiko, Nogami Yaeko, Machi Tawara, and Yoshimoto Banana. Readings in English.


AS-265 Methods for Japanese Studies
Introduction to Japanese studies as an interdisciplinary subject. Students study a prominent literary text (Tale of Genji or modern novel) and the various literary methods for analysis while also being introduced to other disciplinary methods, including history, art, anthropology, drama, translation studies, women's studies, and religion.


AS-266 Methods for Japanese Studies
Examination of the cultural development of Japan in various disciplines. Students investigate and analyze the topic from various perspectives using a variety of texts and visual documents to construct a framework that encompasses disciplines such as politics, religion, language and literature, art, and theatre. Students develop an understanding of the research methods and critical theories relevant to these disciplines and the topic, and a mastery of effective communications skills.


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AS-338 Classical Japanese Literature and its Modern Interpretations
Survey of Japanese literature beginning with the creation myth recorded in 712 and continuing to the dramatic arts of the 1600s. Course examines legends, folk tales, fairy tales, poetic anthologies, diaries and fiction as well as their modern variations such as video games, anime, manga and film. Lecture/ discussion format. Readings in English; no knowledge of Japanese required. Same course as AS 238 with additional reading and assignments designed for Japanese Studies majors.


AS-340 Notions of Modernity in Modern Japanese Fiction
Fiction Seminar on the modern Japanese novel from the late Meiji period to the present. Of primary concern is the fictional and psychological portrayal of the changes Japan faces as it emerges from a feudal society to a modern nation. Notions of self, other, gender, class, and race are considered alongside the concepts of modernism, post-modernism, and pure and popular literature. Authors include Tanizaki Junichiro, Oe Kenzaburo, and Murakami Haruki. Readings in English and Japanese


AS-341 The Pure and Popular: Genre in Modern Japanese Literature
Study of various genres of literature from the Meiji Period (1868-1912) to the present, which includes both "pure" and "popular" works. Genres include diaries, plays, and various kinds of novels such as the "I-novel," lyrical novels and modern thrillers. Seminar format with intensive reading and writing in Japanese and English at an advanced level. Authors to be read include Ishikawa Takuboku, Yasunari Kawbata, Kirino Natsuo, and Murakami Haruki.


AS-343 Japanese Detective Fiction
Who Dunnit and Why? Japanese Detective Fiction - Past and Present : Seminar on detective fiction and mysteries and their evolution in Japan from the Taisho period (1912-1926) to present day. From Edogawa Rampo’s short mystery stories to Kirino Natsuo’s modern day novels of crime, students explore the social, political, and historical connections to these "who dunnit" works. Topics of discussion include: narrative technique, style, influence from other literary traditions (east and west), as well as issues of class, gender, and concepts of justice. Prerequisites: AS 265 or 266 and for 343: B or better in a Japan related course; For 403: Junior or senior standing with Japanese Studies major or minor; majors must write their senior thesis as part of the course.


AS-344 War and Peace in Japanese Literature from Genji to Godzilla
Course examines Japanese works written during and about war and peace from antiquity to present, including some non-Japanese works with interviews of war survivors. Students investigate the social, political, and intellectual background associated with each work while navigating various issues such as sponsorship, censorship, overt propaganda, implicit and explicit political views, and shifts in authorial tone and content over time. Covers all genres including film. 400 level is capstone for Japanese Studies major and thesis and oral presentation are required.


AS-347 What is REAL? Extraordinary Fiction in Japan and the World
Study of the various permutations of the science fiction genre - legends, fairy tales, myths, supernatural and futuristic short stories and novels. Major emphasis is on Japanese works, yet occasional, cross-cultural comparisons to offer diverse perspectives. Course focuses on the literary analysis of the individual texts, while exploring the real purpose served by these unreal creations. Same course as AS 247 with additional reading and assignments designed for Japanese Studies majors


AS-348 Traditional Japanese Theatre
Advanced study of traditional Japanese theatre, focusing on Noh, Bunraku Puppet Theatre, and Kabuki from the fourteenth century to the present. the course examines major theories and a variety of representative plays of the three theatrical forms and investigates their artistic, religious, and socio-cultural significances. Emphasis is on adaptation of literary canons, treatment of convention, seminal playwrights, and performance styles. Instruction in performing Noh chanting and dancing unites theory and performance to deepen understandings of the non-western tradition. Same as AS 247 with additional readings and assignments designed for Japanese Studies majors


AS-350 The Ebb and Flow: Japanese Women's Literature-The First 1200 Years
Examination of a variety of Japanese women writers, genres, and movements ranging from 800 to 2002. Using feminist and other literary criticism, inquiry analyzes the category Joryubungaku (women's literature) and its import in relation to the Japanese literary canon. Authors include Murasaki Shikibu, Enchi Fumiko, Nogami Yaeko, Machi Tawara, and Yoshimoto Banana. Readings in English. Same as AS 250 with additional readings and assignments designed for Japanese Studies majors.


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AS-401 Seminar: Modernity in Modern Japanese Fiction
Fiction Seminar on the modern Japanese novel from the late Meiji period to the present. Of primary concern is the fictional and psychological portrayal of the changes Japan faces as it emerges from a feudal society to a modern nation. Notions of self, other, gender, class, and race are considered alongside the concepts of modernism, post-modernism, and pure and popular literature. Authors include Tanizaki Junichiro, Oe Kenzaburo, and Murakami Haruki. Readings in English and Japanese. For junior/senior Japanese Studies majors, who write their senior thesis as part of the course.


AS-402 Seminar Genre in Modern Japanese Literature
Advanced seminar for the study of various genres of literature from the Meiji Period (1868-1912) to the present, which includes both "pure" and "popular" works. Genres to be read include diaries, plays, and various kinds of novels such as the "I-novel," lyrical novels and modern thrillers. Seminar format with intensive reading and writing in Japanese and English at an advanced level. Authors to be read include Ishikawa Takuboku, Yasunari Kawbata, Kirino Natsuo, and Murakami Haruki. For junior/senior Japanese Studies majors, who write their senior thesis as part of the course.


AS-403 Japanese Detective Fiction
Who Dunnit and Why? Japanese Detective Fiction - Past and Present : Seminar on detective fiction and mysteries and their evolution in Japan from the Taisho period (1912-1926) to present day. From Edogawa Rampo’s short mystery stories to Kirino Natsuo’s modern day novels of crime, students explore the social, political, and historical connections to these “who dunnit” works. Topics of discussion include: narrative technique, style, influence from other literary traditions (east and west), as well as issues of class, gender, and concepts of justice. Prerequisites: AS 265 or 266 and for 343: B or better in a Japan related course; For 403: Junior or senior standing with Japanese Studies major or minor; majors must write their senior thesis as part of the course.


AS-404 War and Peace in Japanese Literature from Genji to Godzilla.
Course examines Japanese works written during and about war and peace from antiquity to present, including some non-Japanese works with interviews of war survivors. Students investigate the social, political, and intellectual background associated with each work while navigating various issues such as sponsorship, censorship, overt propaganda, implicit and explicit political views, and shifts in authorial tone and content over time. Covers all genres including film. 400 level is capstone for Japanese Studies major and thesis and oral presentation are required.


AS-450 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F.


AS-452 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F.


AS-453 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U.


AS-460 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F.


AS-462 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized Research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F.


AS-463 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor graded S/U


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