Friday, July 31, 2009

Free Asian History Courses

Several universities are putting complete courses online for free now. Visitors can peruse course materials and watch lectures even if they do not get any academic credit for it. MIT is probably the best known for this but some other schools are as well including Notre Dame and the University of Washington.

Here are three example courses dealing with Asian history:

East Asia in the World - This MIT course is from 2003. This course examines the interactions of East Asia with the rest of the world and the relationships of each of the East Asian countries with each other, from ca. 1500 to 2000 A.D. Primary focus on China and Japan, with some reference to Korea, Vietnam, and Central Asia. Asks how international diplomatic, commercial, military, religious, and cultural relationships joined with internal processes to direct the development of East Asian societies. Subject addresses perceptions and misperceptions among East Asians and foreigners.

Babylonian Mathematics - This is an Open University course. This course looks at Babylonian mathematics. You will learn how a series of discoveries have enabled historians to decipher stone tablets and study the various techniques the Babylonians used for problem-solving and teaching. The Babylonian problem-solving skills have been described as remarkable and scribes of the time received a training far in advance of anything available in medieval Christian Europe 3000 years later.

Japan in the Age of the Samurai: History and Film - This MIT course is from 2006. This course covers medieval Japanese society and culture from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries, when political power rested largely in the hands of feudal warriors. Topics include religion (especially Zen Buddhism); changing concepts of "the way of the warrior;" women under feudalism; popular culture; and protest and rebellion. Presentations include weekly feature films. Assigned readings include many literary writings in translation.

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