117. Nature and the Environment in East Asian Culture

A. Sherif (East Asian Studies)
Full Course -- 4 Credits
Fall Semester FYSP 117-01 MWF 1:30-2:20

This course focuses on concepts of nature, and the interaction of society and the environment in Japan, China, and Korea. How are East Asian concepts of nature influenced by Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and traditional aesthetics? Are these notions relevant to society’s relation to nature in the modern, industrialized nation state, and to environmentalism and sustainability?

If Western civilization long regarded nature as an adversary that human beings needed to dominate and resources as existing for the benefit of human society, what concepts of nature dominated in East Asia? We will develop an understanding of ideas about nature through the lens of culture. The visual arts, literature, film, architecture, gardens, museums, and religious writings all offer windows on attitudes towards the natural world. Through discussion and short writing assignments, we will work with primary sources and scholarly analyses and criticisms that contextualize and historicize artifacts and ideas. The course will also emphasize research skills and information literacy.