Skip to main content

Senior Seminar (397-0-20)


Re-orienting Asias


Paola Zamperini
1880 Campus Drive, Kresge Hall, Office 4-431
Office Hours: Varies quarter to quarter, please check with instructor.

Meeting Info

Kresge 4438 Asian LC Sem Rm: Tues, Thurs 2:00PM - 3:20PM

Overview of class

AY23-24 What is Asia? Where is it? What makes a language, a culture, a people "Asian", and why? When and how did "Asia" emerge as a concept and as a field of knowledge, and what does it mean for us as students and scholars situated in 21st century Northern American academia to enter the circuit of production, consumption, and re-production of knowledge of and about Asia? How do we decolonize epistemologies about Asia in our research and pedagogies? We will engage these questions by first of all understanding the genealogies and the definitions and research practices in the field of Asian studies, our own as well as others'. We will then move on to discuss together how to describe research topics, articulate research questions, and identify primary materials through which to explore them; how to find, read, evaluate, and make original use of existing scholarship; how to use library research to frame and inform the analysis of primary cultural materials; and how to communicate the aims and results of research to a community of peers. Regardless of whether our respective area/s of interest lies in the early modern, modern, and contemporary periods and in the local, national, regional contexts of Asia, the goal of our time together will be to imagine and map ways in which we can carry out and write meaningful research.
Your individual student research projects will constitute the core of the seminar, and you will develop them progressively in a workshop setting. You will thus be expected to begin the course with a clear research topic, and a rough idea of what primary sources you may use to develop it. Over the course of the quarter, each of you will develop their research topic into an original 12-15 page research paper. For students who wish to complete a Senior Thesis in ALC, this paper will provide the core of the thesis, to be more thoroughly elaborated over the rest of the year.

Students whose topics are not concerned with pre-modern, modern and contemporary China, East Asian studies, gender and sexuality studies, visual culture, queer theory, and fashion theory (my main areas of specialization) are encouraged to seek out additional faculty support for their research, especially if they plan to complete a Senior Thesis in the quarters ahead.

Learning Objectives

- Choose and develop research questions that speak to critical Asian humanities and that are connected to specific materials and research topics both in English and at least one Asian language
-Find, read, evaluate, and integrate existing scholarship related to one's chosen topic into one's research and analysis of primary and secondary sources
- Present original research orally and in writing to an audience of informed peers as well as of teachers and faculty
-Engage enthusiastically in the process of peer review
-Development of methodological skills in studying, reading, and analyzing the primary and secondary sources related to the themes of the seminar.
-Growth as independent researchers in the field of critical Asian humanities.
-Growth as independent academic thinkers and writers in the above areas and disciplines.

Teaching Method

Discussion based seminar

Evaluation Method

Weekly assignments and peer reviews (35%), Final Presentation (10% total), Final Paper (30%), and participation and attendance (25%). The short writing assignments will count towards participation grade. Specific guidelines for each assignment will be available on Canvas, under Assignments.

Class Materials (Required)

All materials available on CANVAS