Review Comment

[AHUM V3400] Colloquium on Major Middle Eastern and East Asian Texts

February 25, 2015

Chung, Rachel Silver_nugget
[AHUM V3400] Colloquium on Major Middle Eastern and East Asian Texts

If you're ready to take Lit Hum all over again, take Colloquium with Professor Chung. The class is very discussion based, and because you only meet once a week (and only spend one week on each text), you get to dive into the text very quickly. Professor Chung has a few points that she tried to get to for each work, but the discussion is often led by students in the class. Each week began with Professor Chung asking students what they thought of the texts, and the class discussion often continued from these thoughts on one tangent or another for the majority of the course.

The amount of reading really varied, with some weeks requiring only 20-40 pages of dense philosophy and others entire novels that you can skim fairly quickly. The amount of work was definitely manageable. For the first eight weeks of the semester Professor Chung required a one page reading response due at the beginning of class, but by the midpoint in the semester she decided that they were "optional." The two papers were also fairly straight-forward. Meet with her a week or two in advance and she'll give you some great guidance in choosing your topics and formulating your arguments, but you can literally wrote on anything you want.

The best part of the course by far were Professor Chung's insights. She really knows her stuff, and while she's not a Titan in the field like De Bary or Schirokauer, she actually *teaches*, and everyone in my section seemed to really enjoy the times when she actually spend 20-30 mins giving background or her interpretation.

Can't speak to everyone's grades, but I participated a fair amount, went to OHs a few times, wrote two fairly good papers and got an A. I'm guessing most people who expected to get an A/A- were successful. A very enjoyable course overall.

Workload:

One-page weekly response paper (that she discontinued halfway through the semester)
Two essays, one 8-10 pages and one 10-12, both due around midterms and finals weeks, respectively

January 30, 2002

De Bary, William
[AHUM V3400] Colloquium on Major Middle Eastern and East Asian Texts

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Wm. Theodore de Bary (or "Warm Teddy" to his friends) is an experience worth having. He's from the old Van Doren school of humanities education, and you know it the second you walk in the door. The goal of the course is to develop some sort of human connection with the texts that is not just a mapping of Western culture onto texts from the four traditions represented in the course, but some sort of meeting based on an understanding of cultural differences. De Bary, as has been noted time and time again, allows little dissent in his class. When he asks a question, he most certainly has an answer in mind. However, two things need to be added to the picture. First, if you stick to your guns and argue the point with him, he will not cut you off--he'll just demand that you have something intelligent to say. Because he knows more about the text than you do, it can be difficult to argue with him, but it's an educational experience. Second, even if you don't plan on arguing a lot in class, there is something to be said for learning, over the course of two semesters, how to read a text the way de Bary does. De Bary is a phenomenal reader, so if you come out of the class with the ability to get half of what he gets from the texts, then this will be already your best college course. His method may be a bit outdated, but its still worth learning.

Workload:

Substantial, but not backbreaking. Heavy reading, papers (ungraded), and an oral exam at the end. You are expected to participate in discussion, so read accordingly.

November 19, 2001

De Bary, William
[AHUM V3400] Colloquium on Major Middle Eastern and East Asian Texts

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

You may want to sign up for a class with de Bary just because of the fact that he is nearing 90 and is still going strong. He teaches his classes for free, and loves his job. He is also an expert in the field, and his name is found in almost every book in the East Asian library. And of course, you can do NO work and easily come out with an A- in this 4 credit, once a week, class. de Bary is also fun to laugh at on occasion--he makes funny faces and is usually very abrasive towards the TA. (especially Landesman). Another nice perk is the banquet that is given at the end of the semester in which you get to meet his lovely secretary who is also about 95 years old. BUT, and this is a big but, his class was by far the most boring experience of my college career. His raspy voice puts you to sleep and makes you want to shoot yourself in the foot. Sometimes I wanted to jump out of the glass window in order break the lapse of boredom. Also, since I did none of the reading, there was some cramming during finals week.

Workload:

about 10,000 pages of (optional?) reading for the whole semester. Two 6-8 page papers(NOT GRADED)and an oral exam (ALSO NOT GRADED?) which is a joke.

December 31, 1999

De Bary, William
[AHUM V3400] Colloquium on Major Middle Eastern and East Asian Texts

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

De Bary's knowledge with Asian philosophy and literature is amazing -- most of the texts were translated or edited by him. He loves teaching -- though he's officially "retired," he somwhow teaches more than double the normal courseload for a professor. Unfortunately, his voice drags on and the two hour seminars feel longer and longer. The reading are interesting and you don't have to do all of them, especially if you take the year long course (the exam is in the spring and doesn't include anything from the fall).

Workload:

2 papers (5-10 pages); oral final for the full year courses. About 200-400 pages of reading per week.

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