2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Roots of China: Culture, Art and Poetics


Fall 2011, Winter 2012 and Spring 2012 quarters

Andrew Buchman (F,W) music composition , Wenhong Wang (F) sociology, journalism, communication , Rose Jang China studies, theater , Mingxia Li biology, Chinese cultural studies, molecular pharmacology
Fields of Study
cultural studies, history, language studies, literature, music, study abroad and theater
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Chinese-American joint ventures, arts-related fields, English teaching in Asia, travel and tourism, and cultural studies.

We'll study Chinese history, poetry, visual art, theatre and music in fall and winter, then spend an optional month at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing in the spring. Extra financial aid is available for this study abroad program for qualified students. We'll study Chinese civilization from ancient to contemporary times, comparing it with Western cultural models. As Ai Weiwei's case demonstrates, artists continue to be agents of social change in Chinese society today. We'll look at artists' lives as well as their work throughout China's history. To appreciate the central Chinese artistic tradition of depictions of and meditations on nature, we'll study the natural history of China, a country the size of the U.S. with remaining wilderness, despite its large population and burgeoning economy.

Workshops on mythology, poetry, folk songs, martial arts, theatrical movement, ritual and secular music, and calligraphy will bring cultural legacies alive for us. In lively, interactive Chinese language lessons, students will create new works of poetry, music, and theatre inspired by Chinese model. We will study Chinese language in order to approach the Chinese world, since, as Heidegger put it, it is from language that "we receive the soundness of our roots" – that is, become intimate with the linguistic idioms, shapes, and sounds that color Chinese culture. Students will study language at their own levels and their own pace, as part of a holistic, supportive, inspiring curriculum.

Although there are no prerequisites in performance, arts, Chinese language or aesthetics, interests or previous study in any of these fields will be useful. Expect plenty of reading and writing, creative workshops featuring small group work, and independent research and creative projects that will increase in size as the year progresses. Students will have ample opportunities to develop their individual artistic and academic interests.

During fall quarter, we will survey the poetry and art of pre-modern China, from ancient texts and excavated musical instruments to recurrent images in Chinese folklore. We'll address the mythological and philosophical subtexts of these works as well, such as aspect of gender and class. We'll focus on works that continue to be enacted and reinterpreted by contemporary poets, performers and artists. We'll examine vital controversies around competing approaches to the tradition.

Winter quarter will take us into the modern era. We will study important writers, poets, musicians, performers, visual artists and filmmakers from the late 19th and 20th centuries, including some from the Chinese global diaspora who helped to create and shape a new vision of China as a republic. We will analyze how processes of cultural transformation and modernization within the last century are reflected in departures, in content and form, from classical models and traditions. Students will finish a research paper and teach the rest of the program what they've learned through individual or group presentations.

In spring quarter, we'll get to know some prominent contemporary Chinese artists and literary figures, and explore the blossoming artistic scenes in many Chinese cities. During the second half of the quarter, interested students will have the opportunity to go to Beijing to study Chinese language and culture first-hand. These students will also study and practice the beauty of Chinese theatre arts with professional teachers in small, intimate workshops. Students who elect not to study abroad will pursue a major research project, and/or ethnographic fieldwork in an Asian community in the United States, and/or pursue internship opportunities. Update on Scholarships for Study in China: Students who receive the Federal Pell Grant should apply for a Gilman Scholarship by the October 4, 2011 deadline. For more information, go to "http://www.iie.org/en/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program", or contact Michael Clifthorne on campus at 360-867-6421.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Special Expenses
$50-150 per quarter for art materials, performance tickets, and program trips to regional Chinese gardens, poetry readings, art shows, cultural festivals, restaurants and teahouses.
Internship Possibilities
Spring internships in arts and cultural organizations in the Pacific Northwest are possible by arrangement.
Study Abroad
Approximately $3,000.00 for four week study abroad in China in spring quarter.
May be offered again in
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
July 13th, 2011 The description has been updated.