This course will look in depth at Asian and Western constructions of Tibetan identity in various sources and media, from Tibetan folk songs and legends to Buddhist philosophical and historical treatises, from Chinese Yuan and Ming dramas to Hollywood cinema, from Tibetan traditional art and music to some of its contemporary Western interpretations. By trying to get to the heart of Tibetan culture in this multimediatic universe, we will also try to map the ways in which, throughout different periods and at the hands of different agents, readers, and performers, “Tibet” has been constructed, invented, and deconstructed, as a site of identity, oppression, and resistance. The second part of the course will also involve sustained engagement with the Tibetan community in the Pioneer Valley, as the students will interview, in collaboration with the Shang Shung International Institute for Tibetan Studies and the Tibetan Association of Western Massachusetts, local Tibetan immigrants and collect their stories about the ways in which they identify with Tibetan culture in the North American diaspora. Course participants will give updates about their fieldwork projects, and the course will culminate in the creation of database of the oral histories and narratives of Tibetans in the Pioneer Valley.
Attendance and participation
I expect you to have completed the reading assignments before coming to class. Attendance and class participation are essential. The course will combine lecture and discussion and part of the final grade will be based on your participation, which involves presence, preparation of readings, and contributions towards classroom discussion. Late arrivals will be noted and will count as absences. Each absence needs to be explained in order to avoid an impact on the grade.
Attendance & Participation: As a class given over almost entirely to discussion, the value of this course depends greatly on your regular attendance and on your sustained and enthusiastic participation.
Response papers (and the occasional assignment): There is a response paper for each of the films in the course. On occasion, I will also assign written assignments related to the readings and the in-class discussion. All response papers and assignments should be one full page, single-spaced, with one-inch margins. All response papers are due in class the day we discuss the film and can be submitted through the digital drop-box. Since the primary purpose of the response papers is to facilitate discussion, late responses will not be accepted.
Discussion leading: During the second half of the semester, students will work in small groups and lead the discussion for one class session. You are encouraged to give a short contextual presentation and to provide the class with the topics for discussion. I will provide further guidance later in the semester.
Final Project: Your final project will entail planning an interview with the Tibetans living in the diaspora in Western Massachusetts, by filming them, transcribing their interviews, and then writing a reflection on the experience. You will work in teams of maximum three students, and you will be given technical instruction and support by the Amherst College Center For Community Engagement staff and IT staff. Detailed instruction will be provided to you in class and via email. There will be NO EXTENSIONS, except for exceptional circumstances, and your paper will be marked down 10 % for each day it is late.
Details and prompts about assignments and the final project will be emailed to you in due time. All written work for this course must be typed, double-spaced and printed in a clear fashion (no recycled or colored paper, please!). Feel free to include art-work.
The final grade will be based on the following criteria: attendance and participation (and this includes response papers and assignments), 45%; final project, 55%.
Writing Center: Charles Pratt Dorm, Room 101. Trained consultants will give individual assistance with writing assignments at any stage of the process. I encourage you to take advantage of their services when preparing drafts of formal essays. Their website is http://www.amherst.edu/~writing/
Frost Library Reference Desk: The librarians at Frost are very friendly and can help you locate useful materials for the final paper in the course, which includes a research component.
Assignments and conduct in this course are governed by the Honor System of Amherst College. Course assignments should substantially reflect your own work and ideas, and when that work is facilitated through a dialogue with others, you should acknowledge it. If you get information from a book, an article, or a website, be sure to say so. (The exception for this course is anything the professor says in class, which you can appropriate as needed. Your papers, however, should not merely regurgitate lectures or class discussions.) The use of another’s words or ideas without acknowledgment constitutes plagiarism, a serious breach of the Honor System, which will result in a zero for the assignment and referral to higher authorities. Avoiding plagiarism is not so much about the method of documentation as about the fact of acknowledgment.
Please let me know if you have any disabilities that might affect your performance in this course
W 3,30 PM to 5 PM, and by appointment
You are welcome and (really) encouraged to come and speak with me during office hours. This is important time to discuss more extensively the texts we are studying, the ideas we are exploring, or anything else related to the class. I strongly urge you to talk with me about difficulties you may experience with course related material and to make suggestions, so that we can all benefit from each other’s insights and comments.
All texts are available at Amherst Books; they are also on reserve at Frost. Please use only these editions, as all page numbers in your syllabus refers to them. Also, please note that the book by Julia Hess is an e-book available through the AC library website.
Anne-Marie Blondeau and Katia Buffetrille Authenticating Tibet: Answers To China's 100 Questions 0520249283 2008
Thierry Dodin (Editor), Heinz Rather (Editor) Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, And Fantasies 0861711912 1996
Melvyn Goldstein, and Tashi Tsering, The Struggle for Modern Tibet: The Autobiography of Tashi Tsering 0765605090 1999
Julia Hess, Immigrant Ambassadors. Citizenship and Belonging in the Tibetan Diaspora. Please note that this book is available as e-book through e-reserve.
John Powers History As Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles Versus The People’s Republic of China 0195174267 2004
Tetsu Saiwai The 14th Dalai Lama. A Manga Biography 0143118153 2010
Matthew T. Kapstein, The Tibetans (Peoples of Asia) Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (October 16, 2006) 0631225749
Timothy Holtz A Doctor In Little Lhasa: One Year In Dharamsala 1598588834 2009
Required movies for ASLC 325
With the exceptions noted below in your syllabus, all movies will be available for your viewing pleasure as streaming videos that you can access from any computer connected to the Amherst-network via Ethernet cable. Please refer to this link for more information on how to access streaming videos:
Class discussion will often center on the movies, so all viewings are compulsory. Additional movie screenings may be added.
Angry monk DVD / BQ950 .A54
Samsara DVD / PN1997 .S247
Phörpa (The Cup) DVD / PN1997 .P739a
Tibet in Song Ordered for Reserve on 12/16/2011
Windhorse DVD / PN1997 .W546
Lha sa'i mi lam= Dreaming Lhasa DVD / PN1997 .L489
Compassion in exile DVD / BQ7935.B777 C65
Tulku DVD / BQ4570.T8 T85
Lost horizon DVD / PR6015.I53 L691
Nong nu: The Serf NO call number yet
Xizang ren wu: Zang yi da shi, Xizang shi zhuang mo te, Zangzu nü da xue sheng, jia zai Xizang DVD DS786 .X497
Shanggelila = Shangri-La DVD DS797.86.X5375 S53
Xizang : Zhongguo Xizang = China's Tibet DS786 .X489
The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet NO call number yet
Capturing reality: the art of documentary NO call number yet
Seeds of Tibet: Voices of children in exile NO call number yet
Other movies on reserve
The viewing of these movies is not compulsory, and they are on reserve for those of you who may want to deepen their knowledge and interests in a specific area.
A guest of life ORDERED 1/21/2012
A quiet revolution DVD / DS786 .Q85
Capturing reality: the art of documentary PN1995.9.D6 C365
Daughters of Wisdom DVD / BQ6345.K25 D28
Destroyer of illusion. The secret world of a Tibetan Lama DVD / BQ5720.M28 D47
Gyalyum Chemo= The Great Mother DVD / DS786 .G935
Himalaya DVD / PN1997 .H5283
Journey into Buddhism DVD / BQ6410 .J68
Kundun DVD / PN1997 .K798
Milarepa: magician, murderer, saint DVD / PN1997 .M52
Qing Zang xian= A railway in the cloud DVD / PN1997 .Q227
Satya, a prayer for the enemy DVD / BQ6150 .S38a
Seven years in Tibet DVD / DS785 .H27319
The saltmen of Tibet DVD / DS786 .S25
The sun behind the clouds: Tibet's struggle for freedom DVD / DS786 .S86
Tibet: Cry of the snow lion DVD / DS786 .T4967
Travellers and magicians DVD / PN1997 .T741
Unmistaken child DVD / BQ7604 .U56
Unwinking Gaze BQ7935.B774 U58
Words of my perfect teacher DVD / BQ7662.2 .W67
Xiu Xiu DVD / PL2925 .K55 T5319
Xizang si miao= Monasteries in Tibet DVD / BQ6348 .X59 2007
Schedule of Readings and Events
Week 1 Tibet, Shangrila, and Beyond
1/24 Introduction to the Course.
1/26 Tibet, to begin with.
Readings: Matthew Kapstein, The Tibetans, 1-50, e-reserve.
Screening, Angry Monk (2/2) streaming
Week 2 Tibet’s Tibet?
1/31 A Tibetan History of Tibet
Readings: Leonard van der Kuijip, “Tibetan Historiography”; The Fifth Dalai Lama, A History of Tibet, e-reserve.
2/2 The Past as Shangrila? Narratives of Traditional Tibet
Readings: Tashi Tsering, The Struggle for Modern Tibet, 3-47, required text; Dorje Yudon Yuthok, The House of Turquoise Roof, 19-72, e-reserve.
Screening, Samsara (2/9), streaming
Week 3 From Kingdom to Province: The Struggle for Modern Tibet
2/7 Modernity as Shangrila?
Readings: Tashi Tsering, The Struggle for Modern Tibet, 48-200.
2/8 “Yantra Yoga: Perfect Rhythm of Life,” 6,30 PM, Pruyne Lecture Hall!
2/9 Immigrant Ambassadors: Narratives of Homeland and Exile
Readings: Julia Hess, Immigrant Ambassadors. Citizenship and Belonging in the Tibetan Diaspora, 1-161, e-book.
Screening, The Cup (2/14), and Tibet in Song (2/16), streaming
Week 4 Diasporic Voices: Tibet in Hindi, English, Chinese, and Music
2/14 New Age Namtars
Readings: Laurie McMillin, Chapter 1, “New Age Namtars,” Part 2, Tibet in English, from 113, e-book; Lara Maconi, “Lion of the Snowy Mountains, The Poet Yi dam Tse Ring and his Chinese Poetry,” 165, from Tibet, Self, and the Tibetan Diaspora, e-reserve.
2/15 Screening of Compassion in Exile, 6 PM Pruyne, Fayearweather, with director Mickey Lemle!
2/16 Echoes from Dharamsala
Readings: “The West as Shangrila: Rock and Roll and ragzen as style and ideology,” in Echoes from Dharamsala, 144-174, e-book; Keila Diehl, “When Tibetan Refugees Rock, Paradigms Roll: Echoes from Dharamsala’s Musical Soundscape,” from Constructing Tibetan Cultures: Contemporary Perspectives, 122-159, e-reserve.
Screening Windhorse, Dreaming Lhasa, (2/21), streaming
Week 5 Lhasa as Tibetans’ Shangrila?
2/21 Lhasa Dreams: In class discussion of Windhorse and Dreaming Lhasa
Readings: Clare Harris, “Struggling with Shangrila: A Tibetan Artist in Exile,” from Constructing Tibetan Cultures: Contemporary Perspectives, 160-177.
2/23 The Dalai Manga
Readings: Tetsu Saiwai, The 14th Dalai Lama. A Manga Biography, required text for the course.
2/26 SUNDAY Field trip to New York City, to visit the Rubin Museum and the Trace Foundation! Details to follow!
Screening, The Serf (2/28), streaming
Week 6 Chinese Narratives of Tibet
2/28 Whose History?
Readings: Anne-Marie Blondeau and Katia Buffetrille, Authenticating Tibet: Answers To China's 100 Questions, xvi-78.
3/ 1 Whose Voice?
Readings: Anne-Marie Blondeau and Katia Buffetrille, Authenticating Tibet: Answers To China's 100 Questions, 79-330.
Screening, Shanggelila= Shangri-La; Zhongguo Xizang= China's Tibet, (Episodes 1 and 2); Xizang ren wu = Tibetan People (all four episodes), streaming
Week 7 香格里拉！
3/6 Mediating Tibet: Tibet and Shangrila in the PRC’s Electric Shadows.
In class discussion of Shangri-La, and China’s Tibet
Readings: Pema Tseden’s Filming in Tibetan http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106089201
3/8 History as Propaganda part 1
Readings: John Powers, History as Propaganda, required text, 3-150.
Screening, Lost Horizon (3/13), and The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (3/15), streaming
Week 8 Imagining Tibet: The View from the West
3/13 Imagining Tibet
Readings: Thierry Dodin, Heinz Rather, Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, And Fantasies, ix-150.
3/15 The Shadow Circus: USA’s Tibet
Readings: William Dalrymple, Chapter 6, “The Monk’s Tale,” in Nine lives. In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, e-reserve.
Screening, Seeds of Tibet: Voices of children in exile (3/29), streaming
Week 10 Shangrila, USA.
3/27 Tibetans in the USA
Readings: Julia Hess, Immigrant Ambassadors. Citizenship and Belonging in the Tibetan Diaspora, 165-230, e-book.
3/29 Creating Oral Histories, Tibetan and Beyond
Readings: Tibet Oral History Project, Kham Film Project, Tibetan Biographies, Step by Step Guide to Oral History, Story Corps, on the course website under “Course Links.”
Screening, Capturing reality: the art of documentary, streaming
Week 11 Shangrila in Western Mass?
4/3 The Art and Technology of the Interview. IT session (details TBA)
4/5 Tibetans in Western Mass: Documenting the Local Tibetan Diaspora.
Readings: “Resources for Planning an Oral History Interview,” under the course website’s “Course Documents.”
Week 12 To the Field!
4/10 Meetings and Interviews with Local Tibetans
4/12 Meetings and Interviews with Local Tibetans
Week 13 And on to the Web!
4/17 Elaboration and preparation of interviews
4/19 Elaboration and preparation of interviews
Week 14 Tibetan Narratives East and West Revisited
4/24 History as Propaganda Part 2
Readings: John Powers, History as Propaganda, required text, 151-162; Wang Lixiong and Tsering Shakya, The Struggle for Tibet, 19-33, 193-275.
4/26 Attempting a Synthesis?
Readings: Robert Barnett, “Violated Specialness”: Western Political Representations of Tibet;” Jamyang Norbu, “Behind the Lost Horizon: Demystifying Tibet;” Thierry Dodin and Heinz Rather, “Imagining Tibet: Between Shangrila and Feudal Oppression, 391, in Imagining Tibet, required text.
Week 15 Our Tibetan Narratives
5/1 In class presentation of interviews’ results
5/3 In class presentation of interviews’ results