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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 185 (GH;IL) (ASIA 185) Asian Pop: The History of Popular Culture in Asia (3) A history of popular culture from the early modern period to the present.

HIST (ASIA) 185 Asian Pop: The History of Popular Culture in Asia (3)
(GH;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Asian popular culture encompasses a broad array of cultural practices and forms that shed light on the politics and society of Asia from the early modern period to the present day. This course examines "low" or non-elite culture, investigating subjects like martial arts, Chinese opera, beggar guilds, popular and folk religion, weddings, teahouses and many others (particular themes will vary depending on instructor) that allow us insight into the day-to-day lives of historical people across Asia. Along the way, we will consider how popular culture intersects with and influences politics, economy, and society.

A significant emphasis will be placed on the scope of cultural influence: some of the topics under consideration were decidedly local affairs, while others moved across political and regional boundaries, sometimes with far-reaching consequences. This focus on dissemination and influence grounds the course. For instance, students will begin their investigation of Asian popular culture by tracing the pre-modern roots of Asian cultural exchange when empires ruled not by political or military might, but what one scholar termed the 'theater state' or, put more simply, cultural persuasion. In contrast, however, common people often subverted state orthodoxy and state policies, in ways ranging from the stories told about local gods to access to martial arts training to marriage practices. Out of this contestation over the meanings and presentations of popular culture symbols and forms, students will be introduced to the various and diverse 'vehicles' for popular culture, from the early modern period up to the present day.

Themes and topics will vary depending on the instructor, but may include cities and urban culture, villages and rural culture, theater, film, mass literature, youth culture, "ethnicity" as culture, music, dance, opera, wartime culture and propaganda, advertising, sexuality, gender and its representations, martial arts and militarism, popular religion, weddings and marriage practices, and so on.


General Education: GH
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2014

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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