This course offers a thematic introduction to the history of martial arts in China. Throughout the semester, we will explore the social, political, and cultural contexts of martial arts practice, from the classical period to the 21st century. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to situating martial arts practices in history through an examination of religious, literary, and visual sources, against the backdrop of theoretical approaches from across gender studies, anthropology, and cultural theory. The course will be divided into three units. The first unit will focus on the cultural background that led to the emergence of martial arts practices in the pre-modern period. We will examine classical discourses on the human body and its cultivation and the role of medical practices and religious institutions, such as the Shaolin Temple, in the development of martial arts regimens. In the second unit, we will discuss the spread and popularization of martial arts practices in late imperial and modern Chinese society through a close reading of literary sources, such as wuxia novels and other works of fiction. In addition, we will explore the modernization and re-invention of martial arts in the late 19th centuryand early 20th century, when China attempts to re-establish itself as a modern nation. The third and final unit will be devoted to the global impact of Chinese martial arts in contemporary popular culture. Through a discussion and analysis of Kung Fu films, as well as video games, we will explore the role of martial arts narratives and practices in the construction of gender, cultural, and national identity and the various ways in which they are used by the current Chinese regime to assert its influence in the global arena. No knowledge of Chinese is presumed, and all readings will be available in English on the Canvas website in PDF form. Graduate students may take this course as EALC536 and should see the instructor to discuss requirements for graduate credit.
Section 401 - LEC
M 0500PM-0800PM