The seminar introduces the problematics of cultural identity as rooted in ethnicity, gender and nationality. The topic under critical scrutiny entails the studies of nationalism, sex, race and economic class. The selected works of literature and cinematography are elaborations of a crisis in Chinese identity and humanity. They are also records of the great costs, paid in blood and pain, that people have rendered to settle accounts with world history.
The objectives are for everyone to become critically conscious of the ways these works signify something meaningful in another society and to recognize attitudes different from your own, as what James Liu would expect of an interlingual critic. “With regard to the interpretation of Chinese literature, the critic has a similar set of attitudes to choose from: Sino-centrism, Eurocentrism, cultural relativism, cultural perspectivism and trans-culturism. I am avoiding the term “cultural chauvinism” or “ethnocentrism” so that the critic’s own cultural and ethnic identity need not be called into question.”
The seminar is writing-intensive. It invites students to examine the formations of identity against the backdrop of perceived cultural differences. The seminar is designed to enhance the skills essential for liberal learning and for successful participation in the College’s academic programs.
Learning Objectives for students to be able to
- develop the abilities, especially the writing skills, essential to critical thinking,
- interpret complex theoretical and creative texts,
- construct a coherent argument, support the argument with evidence, and defend the argument, and
- understand, appreciate, and critique cultural biases, including their own.