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Viewing: EALC 136 C1: Chinese Martial Arts

Last approved: Tue, 02 Oct 2018 15:58:14 GMT

Last edit: Thu, 27 Sep 2018 17:50:14 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Diane Moderski moderski ADMIN COORDINATOR School of Arts and Sciences Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Spring 2019
Fall 2018
Chinese Martial Arts
This course offers a thematic introduction to the history of martial arts in China. Throughout the semester, we will explore the social, political, and cultural contexts of martial arts practice, from the classical period to the 21st century. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to situating martial arts practices in history through an examination of religious, literary, and visual sources, against the backdrop of theoretical approaches from across gender studies, anthropology, and cultural theory. The course will be divided into three units. The first unit will focus on the cultural background that led to the emergence of martial arts practices in the pre-modern period. We will examine classical discourses on the human body and its cultivation and the role of medical practices and religious institutions, such as the Shaolin Temple, in the development of martial arts regimens. In the second unit, we will discuss the spread and popularization of martial arts practices in late imperial and modern Chinese society through a close reading of literary sources, such as wuxia novels and other works of fiction. In addition, we will explore the modernization and re-invention of martial arts in the late 19th centuryand early 20th century, when China attempts to re-establish itself as a modern nation. The third and final unit will be devoted to the global impact of Chinese martial arts in contemporary popular culture. Through a discussion and analysis of Kung Fu films, as well as video games, we will explore the role of martial arts narratives and practices in the construction of gender, cultural, and national identity and the various ways in which they are used by the current Chinese regime to assert its influence in the global arena. No knowledge of Chinese is presumed, and all readings will be available in English on the Canvas website in PDF form. Graduate students may take this course as EALC536 and should see the instructor to discuss requirements for graduate credit.

Foundational Approach

Course not offered every year
Cross Cultural Analysis
Full Time Lecturer

Methods of Assessment


Cross Cultural Analysis

The course focuses on the history of martial arts in China from the beginning of the first millennium CE until present day in an attempt to contextualize the practice and ideology behind martial arts against the backdrop of Chinese religion, literature, and popular media.

The practice of martial arts in China is deeply rooted in the Daoist and Buddhist religious and philosophical traditions. It has also been a central feature of novels, popular/vernacular literature, and art. Throughout the semester we examine Chinese m
artial arts in its own cultural environment but in the final weeks we also discuss the global appeal of martial arts practice in the West and the cross-cultural impact of Kung Fu cinema on a global audience.
While the course focuses on martial arts, it uses it as a lens to discuss much broader issues such as the relationship between religion and well-being, gender performance and presentation, race, nationalism, etc.
The course syllabus draws on a variety of primary and secondary sources, from literary and philosophical texts to modern films. The response papers require students to analyze two films against the backdrop of academic secondary sources. It thus teaches them to think critically and relate them to contemporary issues such as gender, nationalism, and more.

Cultural Diversity in the US


Quantitative Data Analysis


Formal Reasoning


Administrative Fields

Key: 810