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Foreign Cultures


The goals common to all courses in Foreign Cultures are to expand one’s understanding of the importance of cultural factors in shaping people’s lives, and to provide fresh perspectives on one’s own cultural assumptions and traditions, through study of cultures significantly different from that of the United States and the anglophone cultures of the British Isles, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These courses also introduce methods of studying a culture, and the issues involved in approaching a culture not one’s own. Whether the primary emphasis is on the analysis of key texts and works of art, on historical change, or on other fundamental aspects of individual or social life, Foreign Cultures courses seek to identify the distinctive patterns of thought and action that account for the particular configuration or ethos of another culture.

With the exception of the specific courses listed at the end of this section, departmental courses, including language courses, may not be substituted for Foreign Cultures courses to meet this requirement. Consult the Introduction to the Core Curriculum for further details.

Foreign Cultures

[Foreign Cultures 12. Sources of Indian Civilization]
Catalog Number: 8312
Diana L. Eck
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., at 10, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 12
An introduction to the ideas and images that shaped classical Indian civilization and which continue to be of significance to the understanding of modern India. Explores three areas of Indian culture: its philosophical perspectives, its social and moral order, and its mythic and visual imagination.
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03.

Foreign Cultures 17. Thought and Change in the Contemporary Middle East
Catalog Number: 8705
Nur Yalman
Half course (fall term). M., W., (F.), at 12, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 5
The social and political formation of the countries of the Middle East since the 19th century. Focus on Turkey, Arab countries, Israel, and Iran; how both native and non-native social theorists portray the processes of change, tradition, and history. Orientalist, Marxist, and cultural anthropological theorists are juxtaposed; writers such as Gökalp, Shariati, Fanon are to be situated. Topics include Islam and politics; the impact of the West; culture change; revolutionary movements; mystic orders; ethnicity and alienation; the position of women; “progress.”
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03.

[Foreign Cultures 19. El poder y lo sagrado: figuras de un conflicto en las literaturas hispanicas]
Catalog Number: 6597
Luis Fernández-Cifuentes
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., at 10 and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 12
Starting with the identification of modern notions of Power (from Horkheimer to Foucault) as well as modern intimations of the Sacred (mostly vis-à-vis Religion), the course will go on to analyze Hispanic representations of both Power and the Sacred—their iconography and, especially, their interaction with each other in certain strategies of seduction and resistance which seem to characterize Hispanic Modernity—in five films and in the works of twenty major contemporary writers, from Galdós to Cortázar, from Unamuno to García Márquez.
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03. Conducted in Spanish.

Foreign Cultures 21. Cinéma et culture française, de 1896 à nos jours
Catalog Number: 8550
Tom Conley
Half course (fall term). M., W., F., at 10, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 3
Focuses on relations of cinema to French culture from the silent era to the age of video. Explores film in dialogue with cultural and historical events; development of a national style and signature; a history of criticism. Correlates study of cinema to cultural analysis. Takes up Renoir and poetic realism; unrest in 1930s; France and other filmic idioms (Italy, Hollywood, Russia); new wave directors; feminist and minoritarian cinema after 1980.
Note: Conducted in French.

Foreign Cultures 22a. La critique sociale à travers l’humour
Catalog Number: 0656
Marlies Mueller
Half course (fall term). M., W., (F.), at 11, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 4
A second-year language course that explores some French institutions, values, and traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries as objects of humorous attacks by such authors as Beaumarchais, La Fontaine, Molière, and Voltaire. Multidisciplinary approach. Modern interpretations by such eminent film directors as Cassell, Leconte, Rossellini, Scola, and Wajda. At the end of the course students should be able to understand lectures in French, converse on a large variety of topics with native speakers, read material of moderate difficulty, write correct French, and be capable of continuing their studies in higher-level French courses.
Note: Conducted in French. Both Foreign Cultures 22a and 22b, not necessarily in sequence, must be taken to fulfill the Foreign Cultures requirement.
Prerequisite: A Harvard placement score of 600 minimum, equivalent preparation, or permission of instructor.

Foreign Cultures 22b. La critique sociale à travers l’humour
Catalog Number: 0591
Marlies Mueller
Half course (spring term). M., W., (F.), at 11, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 4
A continuation of Foreign Cultures 22a at a higher level. Explores French institutions, values, and traditions of the 19th and 20th centuries with emphasis on such authors and film directors as Balzac, Beineix, Godard, Renoir, Sartre, and Stendhal.
Note: Conducted in French. Both Foreign Cultures 22a and 22b, not necessarily in sequence, must be taken to fulfill the Foreign Cultures requirement.
Prerequisite: A Harvard placement score of 710 minimum, Foreign Cultures 22a, equivalent preparation, or permission of instructor.

Foreign Cultures 30. Forging a Nation: German Culture from Luther to Kant and Beyond
Catalog Number: 0580
Peter J. Burgard
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., at 10, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 12
Examines literary, philosophical, religious, and political movements of the period 1500–1775, from the Reformation to the Enlightenment. Analysis of the social and political implications of texts from that time and consideration of their critical reception in the 20th century. Focus on the relevance of this early age in German cultural history for our own age.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03. Readings in German, discussions in German and English.
Prerequisite: German D, equivalent preparation, or permission of the instructor.

Foreign Cultures 32. Jugend gegen Hitler
Catalog Number: 5463
Judith Ryan
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., at 11, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 13
The course will treat a series of fictional, cinematic, biographical, autobiographical, and documentary works that depict young people coming to terms with everyday life in Germany during the Nazi regime. Attention will also be paid to the language of Nazi proclamations and opposition pamphlets and flyers. Topics explored include youth resistance movements, the ubiquitous influence of the Hitler Youth, life in hiding from the Nazis, and the concentration camp experience.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03. Reading and discussion entirely in German; papers and exams in English.
Prerequisite: German D, equivalent preparation, or permission of the instructor.

Foreign Cultures 34. Mesoamerican Civilizations
Catalog Number: 3196
William L. Fash and David S. Stuart
Half course (fall term). M., W., at 1, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 6
This course highlights the distinctive features of the evolving cultural traditions of Mesoamerica, one of the oldest living civilizations in the world. Precolumbian religion, arts, cultural ecology, and construction of power and social identity through myth, ritual, and official history are explored first. Continuities and changes in those traditions resulting from the Spanish conquest, colonial rule, and subsequent global change in the 20th century are then analyzed. In Mexico and Central America, the past continues to shape the present, and living cultures help illuminate processes, events, and worldview in the archaeological past.

Foreign Cultures 46. Caribbean Societies: Socioeconomic Change and Cultural Adaptations
Catalog Number: 6357
Orlando Patterson
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., at 11; W., at 12, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 13
Caribbean societies are largely the economic and political creations of Western imperial powers. Though in the West, they are only partly of it, and their popular cultures are highly original blends of African and European forms. The course examines the area as a system emerging from a situation of great social and cultural diversity to the present tendency toward social and cultural convergence. Patterns of underdevelopment are explored through case studies of Latin and Afro-Caribbean states, as are cultural adaptations through studies of Afro-Caribbean religions, fiction, and music.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03.

[Foreign Cultures 48. The Cultural Revolution]
Catalog Number: 6474
Roderick MacFarquhar
Half course (spring term). M., W., (F.), at 9, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 2
From 1966 to 1976, the People’s Republic of China was wracked by civil strife, student violence, political intrigue, and military plots. What had once seemed the best disciplined and most stable of dictatorial states seemed about to dissolve into disunity, even anarchy, and as a result of the actions of the man who had done more than anyone else to create it: Chairman Mao Zedong. The Cultural Revolution is traced in order to pinpoint Mao’s aims and to explore the deeper political, social, economic, and cultural issues that his actions raised for the Chinese, and for the rest of us as well.
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03. For students under the Core requirement, counts as either Foreign Cultures or Historical Study B, but not both.

Foreign Cultures 56. Jewish Life in Eastern Europe
Catalog Number: 1271
Jay M. Harris
Half course (spring term). M., W., (F.), at 12, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 5
An examination of the variegated cultural achievements of Eastern European Jewish society, including its religious and ethical worldviews; its educational institutions; its literature; its politics. Primary focus on the 19th century, the development and continuity of traditional life, and the confrontation between traditional and newer cultural patterns.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03.

Foreign Cultures 60. Individual, Community, and Nation in Vietnam
Catalog Number: 1976
Hue-Tam Ho Tai
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., at 11, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 13
An introduction to the enduring bases of Vietnamese society and culture. Focuses on the impact of change on the individual, the family, the community, and the nation through the ages. The condition of women from primitive times to the socialist present, the relationship between religion and politics, the continuing struggle over land, and the dilemmas of leadership and national integration are examined through a combination of literary and historical documents as well as more analytical materials.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03.

[Foreign Cultures 62. Chinese Family, Marriage, and Kinship: A Century of Change]
Catalog Number: 2628 Enrollment: Limited to 216.
James L. Watson
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., at 10, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 12
Examines Chinese culture from the “bottom up” with emphasis on the structure of everyday life. The first half deals with prerevolutionary (noncommunist) society. Topics include marriage and adoption strategies, concubinage, inheritance patterns, gender roles, lineage organization, and life crisis rituals. Second half focuses on postrevolutionary society and Maoist attempts to construct a new culture. Topics include land reform and collectivization, marriage, women’s liberation, changing family organization, antisuperstition campaigns, population control, and the impact of post-Mao reforms. Ethnographic laboratories (sections) examine issues such as footbinding, arranged marriage, and political campaigns.
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03. For students under the Core requirement, counts as either Foreign Cultures or Social Analysis, but not both.

Foreign Cultures 68. Authority and the Claims of the Individual in Chinese Literary Culture
Catalog Number: 9028
Stephen Owen
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., at 1, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 15
Examines the role Chinese literary texts have played in articulating the place of the individual as part of, or against, the authority of community and state. Beginning with the celebrations of social integration in the early parts of the Classic of Poetry (early first millennium B.C.), we will follow the increasingly complex role literature came to play, both as a critic of authority and as establishing a domain of private life.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03. For students under the Core requirement, counts as either Foreign Cultures or Literature and Arts A, but not both.

[Foreign Cultures 70. Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies]
Catalog Number: 1065
Ali S. Asani
Half course (spring term). M., W., (F.), at 12, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 5
Offers an introductory survey of the Islamic world as well as the fundamental concepts and devotional practices of the Islamic faith. Focuses on developing an understanding of the diversity of the Muslim religious worldview and the manner in which it has influenced the political, social, and cultural life of Muslims in various parts of the world, particularly in the modern period. Briefly considers the contemporary situation of Muslims as a religious minority in Europe and the United States.
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03.

Foreign Cultures 72. Russian Culture from Revolution to Perestroika
Catalog Number: 5581
Svetlana Boym
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., at 12, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 14
Explores 20th-century Russian culture through literature, art, and film. Topics include art and revolution, utopian imagination and the authoritarian state, the rewriting of history through literature and film, art of the fantastic and the literature of exile, postcommunism and postmodernism, the search for national identity, and resistance to nationalism. Proceeds from revolutionary avant-garde art and artistic experimentation of the 1920s to the declaration of Socialist Realism and the experience of Stalinism, from the dissident art of the 1960s to the culture of the Cold War, perestroika, and beyond. Works by Malevich, Eisenstein, Vertov, Mayakovsky, Babel, Bulgakov, Mandel’shtam, Nabokov, Kundera, and Brodsky.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03.

Foreign Cultures 74. Cultures of Southern Europe
Catalog Number: 0603
Michael Herzfeld
Half course (spring term). M., W., (F.), at 1, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 6
This is a survey of the modern cultures of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain. Southern Europe has been viewed as both the fount of “Western civilization” and as a poor and crime-ridden backwater; it has been home to imperial powers and humiliated client-states alike. Through the reading of anthropological field studies (urban and rural), literary and historical portrayals, and artistic representations (including film and opera), this course focuses on what such contradictions mean for people in those countries at the level of everyday life, and provides an account of differences as well as similarities among the countries discussed.
Note: Expected to be omitted in 2002–03.

[Foreign Cultures 76. Mass Culture in Nazi Germany: The Power of Images and Illusions]
Catalog Number: 3396
Eric Rentschler
Half course (fall term). M., W., (F.), at 11; screenings, M., 4–6, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 4
A half-century after Hitler’s demise, the legacy of Nazi sights and sounds remains contested and problematic. We will analyze seminal films of the Third Reich as ideological constructs, popular commodities, and aesthetic artifacts. How did emanations of Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda figure within the larger contexts of state terror, world war, and mass murder, and how have Nazi images been presented and recycled since 1945? Sampling of short subjects and documentaries (Triumph of the Will, Olympia, and The Eternal Jew), and narrative films (Hitler Youth Quex, La Habanera, Jew Süss, and Kolberg). Readings provide pertinent socio-historical backgrounds and important theoretical perspectives.
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03. No knowledge of German required.

[Foreign Cultures 78. Culture-Building and the Emergence of Modern Scandinavia]
Catalog Number: 0671
Stephen A. Mitchell
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., at 9, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 11
Focuses on the nordic world (Denmark, the Faroes, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) in the 20th century, but begins with early 19th-century nationalist aspirations tied to folklore collecting and literary movements (e.g., the Kalevala). Examines the “valorization” of peasant culture, pre-Christian paganism, and other aspects of nordic cultural history in a wide variety of cultural monuments (e.g., paintings, museum displays, films, and literary works). Traces the question of who shapes public perceptions of “national cultures” in Scandinavia in selected periods, including the Nazi occupation, the “sex, suicide, and socialism” stereotype of the 1960s, and contemporary settings (e.g., the Olympic Games).
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03.

Foreign Cultures 80. The Cultural Identities of Modern Korea
Catalog Number: 8798
David McCann
Half course (fall term). M., W., at 10, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 3
Surveys the development of Korean cultural identity in literature, art, music, and the writing of history from the first unified kingdom, Silla, in the 7th century, through the succeeding Koryô and Chosôn kingdoms, and into the first half of the 20th century. Then examines modern Korea—the Japanese colonial occupation, 1910–1945; liberation, division, and the Korean War, 1945–1953; the separate cultural regimes in north and south; and hopes for reunification—in the context of its cultural productions.

[Foreign Cultures 82. Modern Arabic Narratives: Self, Society, and Culture]
Catalog Number: 2619
William E. Granara
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., at 12, and a weekly section to be arranged. EXAM GROUP: 14
A historical overview of cultural and social issues in contemporary Arab society as reflected in modern fiction. Attention will be given to the development of the novel and short story as literary media that treat themes such as the conflict between tradition and modernity, anti-colonialism, nationalism, civil war, poverty, alienation, religion and politics, and changing gender roles. Readings will include works of Tayeb Salih, Naguib Mahfouz, Muhammad Choukri, as well as prominent women authors, such as Hanan Shaykh and Sahar Khalifeh.
Note: Expected to be given in 2002–03. No knowledge of Arabic required.

Cross-listed Core courses that satisfy the Foreign Cultures requirement

The following courses fully listed in the Historical Study A area of the Core Curriculum may be taken to meet the Core requirement in Foreign Cultures or in Historical Study A, but not both.
Historical Study A-13. China: Traditions and Transformations
Historical Study A-14. Japan: Tradition and Transformation
[Historical Study A-15. Politics and Society in the Making of Modern India]
[Historical Study A-23. Democracy, Equality, and Development in Mexico]
Historical Study A-74. Contemporary China: The People’s Republic and Taiwan in the Modern World
[Historical Study A-77. The Emergence of Modern China, ca. 1600-2000]
The following courses fully listed in the Historical Study B area of the Core Curriculum may be taken to meet the Core requirement in Foreign Cultures or in Historical Study B, but not both.
Historical Study B-64. The Cuban Revolution, 1956–1971: A Self-Debate
The following courses fully listed in the Literature and Arts C area of the Core Curriculum may be taken to meet the Core requirement in Foreign Cultures or in Literature and Arts C, but not both.
Literature and Arts C-18. Hindu Myth, Image, and Pilgrimage
Literature and Arts C-51. Revolution and Reaction: The Rise and Fall of the Russian Avant-Garde

Departmental course that satisfies the Foreign Cultures requirement

The following departmental course may be taken to meet the Foreign Cultures requirement. This course is not necessarily designed for a general audience; it may assume prior experience or more than could be expected of students seeing the subject for the first time.
Chinese Literature 130. Screening Modern China: Chinese Film and Culture