Course: EAS 314
Instructor: Erin Huang
Description of Course Goals and CurriculumThis course challenges students to consider what is meant by a dangerous body. For example, what does it mean for Mulan to dress as a man in order to serve her family? The class examines various types of cross-dressing, from someone’s clothing to their dialect and socio-economic status. Each week, the class analyzes a different theme related to dangerous bodies through several readings and in relation to previously discussion topics. The readings consist of movies, books, and theoretical readings of dangerous bodies found throughout history. Most of them will be provided for free on Blackboard but some of them will be books that you have to buy/borrow. Skimming and time management skills will be important in getting through all of the readings and the greatest workload will be preparing for the weekly seminars. While earlier Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS) or East Asian Studies (EAS) courses are helpful in quickly picking up important themes from a reading, the class discussions move at a pace that allows you to ask questions and gives you vocabulary to discuss the material.
Learning From Classroom InstructionThe class meets for 3 hours once a week with seminar-style discussion led by Professor Huang. She will start off each discussion by framing a question related to that week’s theme, which is followed by class discussions and an analysis of specific sections in the reading. There will also be one or two students in charge of presenting a brief discussion of the readings and raising their own questions that they want the class to consider. Class discussions are divided between partner or small group work and the entire class. To prepare for class, make sure to give yourself enough time for readings. There is a weekly journal posting due on Blackboard the night before class where you respond to questions posed by the professor. Previewing these before the reading is helpful because they give you an idea of what to pay attention to in the movies or readings. Also try to check how much readings will be due a few days in advance of the journal deadline in case you will need to set aside extra time for them. During class, it is helpful to take notes on key sections of the work to return to later for the assigned essays. There will also be similarities with previous class topics that Professor Huang will point out. These will be important in understanding the overall theme of the course and when you prepare for the essay. It is also essential to ask if any of the terminology or ideas do not make sense because it may continue to be used for later discussions.
Learning For and From AssignmentsThe main assignments are two essays, one assigned as a midterm assignment and one for Dean's Date. These are each based on one of the readings from that half of the course. Any notes that you made during the class discussion will be helpful as a guide for the type of evidence or analysis for the essay. Annotating the readings will also be helpful when you are looking for evidence for the paper. The prompts are often general to give you more freedom in the analysis but it can also be challenging to narrow the scope of the paper. Office hours are a very helpful resource, especially if you bring an outline of your paper and any questions you have. While Professor Huang won’t give you specific feedback on your essay draft, she will be happy to discuss key ideas and evidence that you want to incorporate into your paper. There will also be a creative wiki project that will be due at the end of the semester. This is an open-ended research project where you curate a Blackboard wikipedia page on a topic of your choosing. The purpose of this is to use some of the analyses that you have discussed in class and apply them to a figure or topic of your choice. The challenging factor is in making sure you complete the progress deadlines so you don’t have to find sources and compile all of the material the night before the presentation.
External ResourcesIf there are any challenging concepts or vocabulary, don’t hesitate to bring it up during the discussion or during office hours. The professor is very approachable and open to questions. You can meet with her one-on-one during office hours or by appointment and discuss any concerns about the course. Your classmates are also a great resource in and outside of class to discuss readings. While there isn’t a lot of group projects, the partner discussions during class allow you to learn about how your peers have interpreted the texts.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionThe coursework and level of analysis is manageable (~6-8 hours a week) even for someone looking to satisfy an EM requirement without any GSS or EAS background. You will have to manage your time before each class well to finish the readings. If needed, Professor Huang will tell you when it is ok to skim a theoretically dense paper. The class discussions are very rewarding and you often leave class with a different perspective on the readings and a deeper awareness of how they address current issues, such as queer representation. The topics of the essays and other assignments are designed to allow you to synthesize class discussions and your own analyses into a coherent piece. The type of topics and critical thinking will also be very fruitful for those interested in the fields of GSS or EAS.
Dangerous Bodies: Cross-Dressing, Asia, Transgression