ASST 271
Erotic, Grotesque, Sublime: Ghosts and Monsters in East Asian Religion and Popular Culture Fall 2016 Division II; Cross-listed as ASST271 / REL271 / WGSS279 / COMP279
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“Ghosts and monsters” (Chinese yaoguai, Japanese yokai, Korean yogoe) have long figured prominently in East Asian cultural history. In medieval East Asian chronicles, wrathful demons attacked the imperial palace, ghosts haunted abandoned temples, and shape-shifting foxes infiltrated the bedrooms of royal concubines. These creatures persisted into the modern era when nineteenth century tabloids reported the existence of demon-foxes, giant serpents, and vengeful spirits. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, monsters began crossing over into the realm of fiction, and Japanese, Chinese, and Korean popular novels and films continue to crawl with images of traditional dark beasts. The opening contention of this course is that ghosts and monsters signify deviancies from “the normal” as it is constructed in a given culture and time period–they often come to represent transgressions of nature, gender, sexuality, race, morality, or to subvert distinctions such as those between human and animal, man and woman, animate and inanimate, present and past, or living and dead. This course will analyze East Asian ghosts and monsters in their historical cultural context, thinking about how they come to embody particular cultural fears and desires. We will use a range of East Asian materials in translation–including folktales, medieval bestiaries, short stories, and films, alongside a heavy dose of theory including works by feminist scholars Julia Kristeva, Ilka Quindeau, Susan Sontag and various others who attempt to understand the monstrous and the uncanny. Students will undertake an extended research project on a ghost or monster of their choice and locate it in its broader cultural context. Doing so should put us in a position to explore central themes, such as the connection between the grotesque and the erotic, the cultural performance of gender, the social construction of illness, the trauma of memory, the commodification of the supernatural, and the boundaries of the human.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1463
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation, weekly responses, final 15- to 18-page research paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: REL, ASST, WGSS, and COMP majors will be given preference
Distributions: Division II;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under REL, ASST or WGSS; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under COMP
Attributes: FMST Related Courses

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