Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2nd Eight Week Courses - Central Eurasian Studies

CEUS-R 199 Gateway to Central Asia: Cultures and Traditions (#33348)                              Mon & Wed 5:30-8:00 PM

Central Asia is comprised of the five former Soviet Republics which gained independence in 1991 (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan), the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and China’s Xinjiang province.  Central Asia has a rich history founded on its location on the Silk Road, the famous trading route between China and the West. The ancient cities of Central Asia, Samarkand, Bukhara, Kiva, Mari, Mazari Sharif, Tashkent and Kashgar, were main hubs on the ancient Silk Road. The three-thousand-year-old famous cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, which have unique architecture, were the centers of education and religion. Central Asia was conquered by Alexander the Great, the Arabs, the Iranians, the Mongols, and the Russians and has a very distinct culture which was also influenced by the Chinese and the South Asians.  The music of Central Asia is very rich, and the cuisine is one of the most prominent in Asia.

In this course, students will learn about the geography, history and unique culture, cuisine, music hospitality, traditions and customs mainly of Muslim people inhabiting Central Asia by reading texts, watching videos and movies, and attending the presentations of the guest speakers from Central Asian countries.

CEUS-R 299 Symbols, Icons, and Alphabets:           Writing Systems in Asia (#37177)       Tues & Thurs 4:15-6:45 PM

This course offers a bird’s eye view of a great many of Asian scripts, living and dead, their peculiarities, types, functions, origins and changes, their relations to language, politics, arts, religions and other systems of signs. It will relate the birth of writing in ancient West, East and South Asia as well as the long travel of the alphabet from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, from South Asia to Inner and East Asia. It will show the Asian origin of the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabets that are in use in Europe and Asia. The course does not require the knowledge of any Asian language or script, but it may serve as a guide to their colorful world and to grammatology, the science of writing systems, in general.

CEUS-R 309 Estonia’s Place: Borders and Neighbors  (#33351)                                  Mon & Wed 5:30-8:00 PM           

The sea, the islands, the lake and the forests are the natural borders of this coveted piece of land, one of the oldest continuously settled areas in Europe, home to a unique language related to Finnish and Hungarian, crossroads for ancient trade-routes. Since the 13th century a battleground ruled by Danish and German knights, the Swedish king and the Russian Czars, Stalin and Hitler, and Stalin with his successors once again. Cut off from the West by the Iron Curtain for almost fifty years. Now it’s a European Union and NATO member, and the birthplace of Skype.

Where is this place, exactly, and why would you want to know? How did it all happen? Who are Frank and Wendy and why are they in Estonia?  This course will take a look at how the country’s location and historical contacts have shaped its culture, language and identity and how they continue doing so today. We will also observe the very local factor of Estonia’s geographical place, the latitude and the landscape in relationship with culture. The course will put Estonia on the physical and cultural map by reading a novel, poetry, texts about society, environment, literature and cultural history. We will watch documentaries, feature films and cartoons and learn about some concepts central to cultural studies along the way.


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