Kitchen, Studio, Factory: Making in East Asia


How do artisans approach the task of making? If different cultures of making exist, what forms do they take and why? In this course, we will explore these and other questions concerning the central human activity that is the production of material objects. From a Korean rice wine brewer to a Japanese clockmaker and to the Shanzhai cellphone manufacturers, makers in East Asia have distinguished themselves as skillful practitioners throughout history. The aim of this course is to understand their ways of production -- and how these, in turn, evolved alongside broader changes in society and culture. We begin by appreciating the challenges of studying making cultures and the importance of material, hands-on research, which involves, for instance, cooking with historical recipes. We then investigate the history of artisanship in relation to social structures and statecraft and the many ways in which it unfolded in Korea, Japan, and China and across various artifacts, from kimchi and porcelain to steam engines and Van Gogh paintings. For the term project, students have the option of reworking a historical recipe or artifact from East Asia before the modern era. During this process, their will learn by doing and explore the tacit knowledge involved in the creation and maintenance of craft practices. This course is primarily for sophomores and juniors with a major or minor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures. Other students may enroll with permission. No prior knowledge of East Asia is required.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; BU Eth; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD

Section 01

Kitchen, Studio, Factory: Making in East Asia
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