China in the English Imagination
This course explores the china-mania that spread across England and Europe in the eighteenth century, from chinoiserie vogues in fashion, tea, porcelain, and luxury objects, to the idealization of Confucius by Enlightenment philosophers. The course seeks to interpret the multiple ways in which Asia was imagined and understood by Europeans during a period of increased trade between East and West. The course will consist primarily of British and French literature and art of the 18th century. Texts will range from Oriental tales, novels, plays, and poetry, to newspaper essays and economic, scientific, and philosophical tracts. The course is designed to provide historical background to contemporary problems of Orientalism, Sinophilia, and Sinophobia. Assignments will include one class presentation and a choice of either three short essays (5 pages each) or one longer essay (15 pages).