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The History and Mythology of Chinese Scripts
/ COMP 272
/ CHIN 272
Written scripts using what are most often called “Chinese characters” have an attested history of over 3000 years and have been used all over the world to represent a range of different languages. In this course we will examine the history and development of Chinese characters from their earliest extant examples on sacrificial animal bones to their often amusingly misguided use for contemporary tattoos. We will look at historical evidence and mythology, carefully constructed grammatological studies and wild orientalist imaginings. Some topics will include: comparisons between the development of Chinese characters and other written scripts, the relationship between Chinese characters and the languages of China, the use of Chinese characters to write non-Chinese languages, Chinese characters in art and calligraphy, theories of connections between Chinese characters and Chinese philosophy and literature, issues of education and literacy, and the future of Chinese characters in the digital age.
Format: lecture; discussion
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
quizzes, short writing assignments, a midterm, and a final exam
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: