Fall 2024

Asia in European Mind

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-123


Trent E. Maxey (Section 01)


From the late-eighteenth century onward European intellectuals frequently drew on images of Asia to discuss what it meant to be modern, enlightened, and historically progressive. By critically tracing this intellectual genealogy we will together confront controversial yet remarkably durable conceptions of human subjectivity, freedom, and progress, conceptions we are often complicit in today. We will start with key figures in the intellectual tradition of modern Europe, including Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), Georg W. F. Hegel (1770–1831), Karl Marx (1818–1883), and Max Weber (1864–1920), but move on to the echoes of their thought among more recent, especially Asian, thinkers who have grappled with the problem of modernity. We will conclude with contemporary thinkers, including Judith Butler (1956-), Ueno Chizuko (1948-), Naoki Sakai (1946-), Homi Bhabha (1949-), and Dipesh Chakrabarty (1948-), and consider their attempts to grapple with the tension between universal conceptions of human being and particular modes of criticism and resistance. 

The seminar is designed to practice the related skills of close reading, engaged discussion, and critical writing. In addition to 5 formal essays, reading prompts and short writing exercises will ask you to develop the reading skills needed for active class discussion and effective writing. Short research exercises will introduce you to Frost Library and a group presentation will allow you to practice oral communication skills. 

Fall semester. Professor Maxey.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Fall 2024