China + East Asia
China in the World: to 1600 | fall 2015
Begins with the first written records produced by Chinese civilization and concludes at the twilight of the Ming dynasty around 1600. This period is fascinating at least in part because of the individual biographies that populate this historical narrative, from a female scholar who made her mark by upholding patriarchy to a monk who trekked to India search of enlightenment.
China in the World: since 1600 | 2011-12, 2012-13, spring 2016
This course stretches from the rise of the Manchus to the country’s remarkable rise after “Reform and Opening.” During our journey together into the past, we will pay special attention to the role of individuals, from the half-Japanese pirate who defeated Dutch colonists to Mao Zedong, perhaps the most recognizable name in Chinese history.
Gender and Sexuality in Modern China | spring 2014
This course will explore how gender and sexuality can help us understand China’s recent past. We will begin by asking where gender comes from, and if sex even has a history. We will then consider other questions: What role has the law played in family life? How has the state reacted to “bare sticks” and “left over women”? Why did women bind their feet in earlier generations? How has Chinese society imagined same-sex relationships over time?
History of Sino-U.S. Relations | fall 2013
Today, Chinese and Americans loom large in each other’s minds, viewing one another with a curious mix of admiration and fear. These feelings are hardly new. In fact, they have been regular features of the two-centuries long relationship between China and the United States. This course explores that history, beginning with the arrival in China of a few sea-battered merchants in search of tea and other storied treasures. We soon meet other sojourners, including coastal Chinese who sailed to California in search of “Gold Mountain.” These stories are followed by those of diplomats, restaurateurs, mercenaries, educators, and many more.
Japan's Empire and its Legacies | fall 2016
This course examines the dramatic rise and fall of Japan as well as the repercussions of its colonial project. It begins with the Meiji Restoration in 1868, tracing Japan’s rapid modernization project and the many contradictions it entailed. It continues by analyzing the motivations for and the impact of Japan’s East Asian colonial project, leading eventually to its conflict with the United States during the Second World War. In the final portion of the course, students will conduct guided research into one of the many “issues of history” that still grip the Asia-Pacific, controversies like collaboration, forced labor, “comfort women,” the Yasukuni war shrine, the dropping of the atomic bombs, or history textbooks.
Thinking about a Changing China | spring 2017
Over the past forty years, China has undergone a profound social and economic transformation. This course will be organized around a series of questions examining the causes, course, and consequences of China’s contemporary changes. These questions aim to elicit novel and contending interpretations, and are inspired by a range of historians, public intellectuals, officials, researchers, journalists, activists, and voices from the grassroots.
Youth who Shook Twentieth-Century China | fall 2013
This course explores the role of youth in the great upheaval of successive political and social movements that sought to remold China through competing modernizing programs. Although we will aim to provide a well-rounded analysis of the movements under discussion, we will pay special attention to Beijing and Peking University as constant threads over the century.
Politics, policy, and philosophy
Prep Humanities: Global Thinking | 2019-20
Global Thinking is a comparative philosophy course that traces humankind’s ongoing efforts to grapple with enduring questions: What are the most important elements of a good life? What makes a good society? How do we know, and what do we count as knowledge? What is the place of human beings in the natural world? It is one of three Humanities courses students take in their Prep year at Hotchkiss, together with Global Literature and their choice of Arts.
Hannah Arendt | fall 2014
Hannah Arendt (1906-75) was one of the twentieth century’s most enlightening and controversial public intellectuals. As a Jew of German origin and a witness to many of the “dark times” of the past century, for her the task of thinking and judgement was for her an urgent one. True to Arendt’s approach, this course is part history and part philosophy — with each theme touching on three major trials in the twentieth century.
Nations and Nationalism | spring 2014
What is nationalism? Is the nation rooted in ancient traditions or invented in the modern era? What is the nation’s relationship to culture? What distinguishes the national claims from those of the sub-national — regional pride or ethnic identity? What promises and perils does nationalism present? This seminar examines these questions as political philosophy and analyze their relation in global historical context.
Public Policy Innovations: The Swedish Model | spring 2015
This program examines how Sweden has successfully tackled some of the most long-standing social challenges faced not just by China, but many countries around the world. We will combine discussion of recent Scandinavian history, political theory, and public policy case studies — all with frequent comparison to China, the United States, and other nations. The course culminates in a 10-day field study in Sweden where we will be greeted by policy experts, political activists, and a range of exciting hands-on learning activities.
Additional history courses
Selected independent student projects