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Viewing: EALC 004 C1: Mongol Civ Nomad & Sed

Last approved: Thu, 03 Oct 2019 18:11:40 GMT

Last edit: Wed, 02 Oct 2019 18:01:04 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Christopher Atwood catwood Professor School of Arts and Sciences East Asian Languages and Culture
Spring 2020 (Deactivations ONLY)
Fall 2019
Mongol Civ Nomad & Sed
This course will explore how two intertwined ways of life - pastoral nomadism and settling down for religious, educational, and economic reasons - have shaped the cultural, artistic, and intellectual traditions of Mongolia. In this course students will learn about Mongolian pastoral nomadism, and how the Mongolian economy, literature, and steppe empires were built on grass and livestock. We will also explore how Mongolians have also just as consistently used the foundations of empire to build sedentary monuments and buildings, whether funerary complexes, Buddhist monasteries, socialist boarding schools, and modern capitals. Over time, these cities have changed shape, location, and ideology, all the while remaining linked to the mobile pastoralists in the countryside. We will also explore how these traditions of mobile pastoralism and urbanism were transformed in the 20th century, by urbanization, communist ideology, and the new reality of free-market democracy, ideological pluralism, and a new mining dependent economy. We will meet modern painters and musicians who interweave Mongolian nomadic traditions with contemporary world trends, and consider the future of rural traditions in a modern world.
Every Other Year

Foundational Approach

Course offered spring; even-numbered years
Cross Cultural Analysis
Christopher P. Atwood
Standing Faculty
Standing Faculty
This course offers a thematic introduction to Mongolian culture. I serves both as an introduction to further courses on Mongolian and other East Asian cultures as well as a stand-alone consideration of how nomadism affects culture.
Successful students will do the following in this class: 1) understand Mongolia's role in ancient, medieval, and modern civilizations; 2) learn how to separate myths about figures like Genghis Khan, Khubilai Khan, and nomadic herdsmen from the lived realities of Mongolia; 3) understand how ecology and environment shapes civilizations; 4) be able to interact with creative artists, students, and teachers from a different culture and learn how they understand their cultural past.

Methods of Assessment

1 Final paper based on outside research : 2750-3,000 words;
1 Curated Exhibition: 10 works exhibited with 1500-2500 word catalogue/captions
No exams
1) Weekly Reading Reviews: 12 weeks for Full credit, 2 points: 12X1=12 points
2) Attendance & Participation: 13 weeks for Full credit, 2 points: 13X2=26 points
3) 3 Trip posts/replies on Nüürnom (“Facebook” in Mongolian) Group: 3X5=15 points
4) 1 Class presentation based on outside research: 12 points
5) 1 Discussant of class presentation: 5 points

Cross Cultural Analysis

The course shows nomadism from the point of view of people who came from a nomadic civilization, not from the perspective of outsiders. The course shows how Mongolian culture has always contained both nomads and people following sedentary lives (deported farmers, monks, socialist officials, modern city dwellers and so on). By understanding their interaction, students go beyond fetishized ideas of "nomadism" as being somehow radically different.
The course focuses on how modern (post-1921, and post-1989) art, literature, and music have represented nomadism and the life of rural Mongols generally. Thus it considers the creative representation of the social institutions of rural Mongolia, in particular those related to organization of space and human-animal relations.
Nomadism is for Mongolians today -- and maybe especially Mongolian city-dwellers or expats living outside the country -- emblematic of their culture and people. By considering how non-nomads represent nomadism as emblematic of Mongolia, students will consider how nationalism, "roots-seeking," and globalization interact in Mongolia and elsewhere.
The assignments are designed to teach: 1) close reading -- this will done through weekly reading reviews, for which the instructor will return detailed comments and also through participation where we read and discuss important texts in class; 2) reading artifacts and social interactions, through social media posts, and discussion among Mongolian and non-Mongolian people; 3) in-depth exploration of a research question through two methods: a) textual presentation of a research project, and b) a curated exhibition of images with captions.

Cultural Diversity in the US


Quantitative Data Analysis

As a Penn Global Seminar, students will be selected in coordination with the Global Seminar Program, prioritizing students who can demonstrate interest in and some preliminary thought about the course topics and issues.

Formal Reasoning


Administrative Fields

Key: 876