HC 221H: The Difference China Makes

Professor: Roy Chan

• CRN 13085: Tuesday & Thursday, 1415-1545 @ MCK 122

In recent months fears over the global spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 have evolved into widespread stigmatization and stereotyping of Chinese people and culture. However, the notion of the Chinese as representing a radical form of cultural difference has a long history in the West. Conversely, the Chinese have also long been concerned about cultural difference in the formation of their own identity. This course will explore the relationship between China and the construction of cultural difference. By tracing forms of Chinese “difference” in both the West and China, we will examine the various ways in which the construction of difference plays a prominent role in any culture’s process of self-definition, evolution, and exclusion, and consider its significant consequences on individuals and groups deemed as “other”. We will consider literary texts and cinema in conjunction with contemporary cultural topics, including representations of cuisine and disease.