CC: Nomads, Shamans, and Mystics: Imagining Central Asia. An 800-year-long literary journey across Central Asia - the area between Russia, Iran, India, and China, once connected through the famous Silk Road - awaits us in this course. In addition to diverse literary texts (an early Turkic epic, an emperor's autobiography, an early European travel account, a Soviet science-fiction novel, to list a few), we will pay attention to other forms of artistic expression, including Persian miniature painting and recent Afghan cinema. Note that the title refers to three recurring types of individuals who have attracted much interest in literature, cinema, and art from and about the region, not necessarily the identities of our authors (even though some could fit them). We will ponder how various empires, such as the Moghul, Russian/Soviet, British, and most recently, our own, American, reverberate across Central Asia. Interdisciplinarity will never leave our side, as students learn to contextualize the individual works historically, ascertain their political and aesthetic properties, follow their intertextual links, and consider them in light of currents events. Some larger themes to be covered are: poetic traditions and storytelling; post-Communism and postcolonialism; ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion; food, drink, and luxury goods; the environment, technology, utopia and dystopia. Authors include (in English translation) Marco Polo, Babur Shah, Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, Galsan Tschinag, Chingiz Aitmatov, Atiq Rahimi, and two contemporary Anglophone novelists.




As a ConnCourse, this class will make connections across the liberal arts.

Cross Listed Courses

This is the same course as GIS 204/SLA 204.

Enrollment Limit

Enrollment limited to 28 students.