Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

China Portal

Or view as a table.

An Intensive Reading of the Tao Te Ching/Daode jing 道德經 Part II

We will continue onwards with our intensive reading and discussion of the text from wherever we end in "An Intensive Reading of the Tao Te Ching/Daode jing 道德經".
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

An Intensive Reading of the Tao Te Ching/Daode jing 道德經

"The Way that can be talked about is not the lasting Way": so begins this classic text of world literature and Chinese philosophical and religious thought. The Tao Te Ching has been read, interpreted, and applied in a variety of ways throughout Chinese and world history. We'll do a close reading as well as explore the larger commentarial tradition surrounding it, using it as a gateway to explore further dimensions of East Asian culture and to spark conversations within the class.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

A Sip of Tea and Tea Culture

In this module we will explore the cultural history of tea production, tea consumption, and tea-related cultural forms and practices. Primary focus will be on Asia, with side-expeditions to other parts of the world. White, green, Oolong, red (black), the Silk Road, tea bricks, tea ceremonies, tea-and-Zen, tea as world commodity, tea as entheogen---we can explore all of this and more!
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Chinese History for Fans of Chinese Media

If you are a fan of any form of Chinese popular media such as CDramas, films, wuxia pian (martial arts films and novels) and so on, you will almost certainly find yourself exposed to a wide array of different historical settings and contexts. In this module we will explore those moments and periods in the history of China that often appear as settings or references in Chinese popular media as a way to broaden and deepen our understanding and enjoyment of it.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Classical Chinese 1 First in the Series

This is the textual language of the early classical Chinese philosophical and literary tradition, bearing a relationship to modern forms of Chinese like that of classical Latin to a modern Romance language. Just as one does not need to know Italian to study Latin, no prior knowledge of modern forms of Chinese is needed to study the classical language. This language served as a kind of "lingua franca" throughout East Asia for much of history, much like the role Church Latin served in medieval Europe. In this module we will begin building the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary to eventually be able to engage with the texts associated with Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Mozi. If a cohort forms, we can continue this study within a continuing sequence. We will focus exclusively on developing the ability to read it as a literary language.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Classical Chinese Series Series of 1

This is the textual language of the early classical Chinese philosophical and literary tradition, bearing a relationship to modern forms of Chinese like that of classical Latin to a modern Romance language. Just as one does not need to know Italian to study Latin, no prior knowledge of modern forms of Chinese is needed to study the classical language. This language served as a kind of "lingua franca" throughout East Asia for much of history, much like the role Church Latin served in medieval Europe. In this module we will begin building the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary to eventually be able to engage with the texts associated with Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Mozi. If a cohort forms, we can continue this study within a continuing sequence. We will focus exclusively on developing the ability to read it as a literary language.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Daoism: The School of the Way

In this class we will explore some of the major texts and movements within historical Daoism, especially Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Daoist alchemy and long-life practices. We will also examine how some of these Daoist concepts are incorporated by Ursula K. Le Guin into her speculative fiction.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring Journey to the West 西遊記

One of the most beloved of all classical Chinese novels, Journey to the West features Monkey, Pig, Sand-demon, White Horse, and the monk Tripitaka as they make a pilgrimage from Tang-dynasty Chang’an to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures, having outrageous adventures all along the way. Full of humor and wit, this is a major work of East Asian fantastic literature. Come along with Monkey and the gang for a tour through this foundational text!
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring Water Margin 水滸傳

One of the great classical Chinese novels written largely in the vernacular, Water Margin relates the dramatic tale of 108 outlaws who engage in deeds of bravery and rough justice as they deal with challenges and reprisals from the government and rival clans of outlaws. The historical influence of this text extends beyond China, as it was a major influence on Tokugawa-era (1600-1868) and later Japanese literature and is currently considered to be a major work of world literature. Join us as we explore both the story and its historical ramifications!
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring Romance of the Three Kingdoms 三國演義

Considered to be one the major classics of pre-modern Chinese literature, Romance of the Three Kingdoms focuses on a story of political and military struggle featuring an impressive array of characters, many of whom have become touchstones of Chinese cultural heritage and artistic interest. This novel has spawned a wide arrange of operas, stories, video game series, musical compositions, television and web series, as well as garnering much academic attention since it was first published in the 14th century. Join us as we read, discuss, analyze, and place in its cultural and historical contexts this major work of Chinese historical fiction.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring The Analects 論語 of Confucius

In western internet memes, lots of sayings are attributed to Confucius. He did not say most of them. In this module we will engage in a slow reading and interpretation of The Analects , our primary source for Confucius's discourses and dialogues. Your preceptor will also situate this text in currents of historical thought from Warring States China and larger Confucian tradition. Once we are done, you will have gained many skills, including a decent ability to distinguish "Confucius" the meme-able quote machine from the Confucius of the Analects and Chinese historical tradition.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring The Ghost Bride

Join us as we explore Choo’s delightful debut novel, which has also been made into a Netflix series. The story focuses on Li Lan, a young Chinese woman, who lives in 1890s colonial Malaya with her father, who returns one evening with a proposition — to become the bride, a ghost bride, of the recently deceased heir to the fabulously wealthy Lim family. After a visit to the Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her growing desire for the Lim’s living heir, Tian Bai. She is drawn into the multifold realms of the Chinese afterlife, with their ghost cities, funerary paper offerings, wandering spirits and rigid bureaucracy. Li Lan must navigate her way through this web of complicated relationships both to save her life and meet her destiny.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring The Three Body Problem

First ever Asian winner of the Hugo award for best novel, as well as winning the Chinese Yinhe (“Galaxy”) award for best novel, and nominated for the Nebula award for best novel, and serving as the source material for an upcoming Netflix series by the same name, The Three-Body Problem is an exploration of both humanistic and technological themes in the context of Chinese history and contemporary society, all set in a narrative of alien invasion. There are few novels better for beginning to explore Chinese science fiction, so please join us as we take a deep dive into this fascinating masterpiece!

Content advisory: Graphic depictions of historical violence.

HSK Mandarin 1 First in the Series

In this first module, students will be introduced to Mandarin—the language used throughout most of China. Students will get a sense for the tone system, basic grammatical structure, Pinyin, Chinese characters, and some snippets of useful, conversational Mandarin. We will follow the HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test-Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi 汉语水平考试 ) Standard Course Curriculum for HSK Level 1.

Main topics for this module include:
1. An emphasis on Pinyin (the method of romanized transliteration for Chinese)
2. An introduction to reading and writing Chinese characters (Simplified, not traditional)
3. Basic grammar and vocabulary
4. Conversation

We will also look at some authentic materials, including song lyrics and dialogue from popular T.V. and movies. These will help to give us context for what we are learning and gauge where we are in our journey.

If you've ever wished to understand and speak Mandarin, here's a great stepping stone to get you started!
Precepted by Sam Roche

HSK Mandarin Series Series of 1

This series is for people looking to begin their journey with Mandarin--the language spoken throughout much of China and its surrounding territories. We will follow the HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test-Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi 汉语水平考试 ) Standard Course Curriculum for HSK Level 1.

Throughout the course we will also look at some authentic materials, including song lyrics and dialogue from popular T.V. and movies. These will help to give us context for what we are learning and gauge where we are in our journey.

If you've ever wished to understand and speak Mandarin, here's a great stepping stone to get you started!

Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism

Building on the "Introduction to Early Buddhism" module, we will explore the development of Mahayana Buddhist traditions, focusing especially on Madhyamika and Yogacara trends, the Zen and Pure Land Schools, the Heart Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and interactions with Chinese religio-philosophical systems, especially Daoism, and the fascinating culture of the Dunhuang caves.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Introduction to Vajrayana Buddhism

Building on the previous two Intro to Buddhism modules in this sequence, we will explore the colorful and varied forms of Vajrayana Buddhism, focusing especially on developments in Tibet, but not ignoring the larger world of esoteric Buddhism. The various sects, arts such as the creation of sand mandalas, ritual practices, and various forms of teaching will all be explored.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

The Fantastic in East Asia

Come join us as we explore various aspects of the weird, the strange, the uncanny, the dreamlike, and the visionary in East Asian literature, religion, folktales, poetry, and popular media. Whether it is ecstatic visions in Daoist texts, shamanistic expressions in Chinese poetry, gumiho and ghosts in KDramas, or stories such as that of the Yuki Onna (Snow Woman) in Japanese folklore, we’ll explore them all (and perhaps more!) in this class.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Warring States Era Chinese Philosophy: Attaining Flow

Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, Mohism---these Chinese philosophical systems all have their foundational roots in the Warring States period of Chinese history (475–221 BCE), and as such share a set of common interests, even if their proposals for attaining those interests greatly differ. In this module we will cover the basic concerns of each of these systems, paying attention to their differences as well as their similarities, and perhaps most importantly, seeing how their proposals for the attainment of human flourishing may still have something to offer to contemporary people.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Zen History and Thought: An Overview

In this module we will examine the origins and development of Zen Buddhism from its roots in Mahayana and Daoist thought through its formative years in China and its spread to Korea and Japan. Among other topics, we should have time to cover the Patriarchs of Zen, the Five Houses of Zen, and major figures within the tradition. We will also gesture towards Zen's impact on East Asian arts and culture more generally.
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].