Dr. Hazel Hahn
After a period of collective reading and discussion each student will work on an individual research project and write a paper. We’re using “culture” here broadly in the sense of the production of meaning1, but we’re particularly interested in tangible and visible forms of culture. Material culture such as textile, tiles, furniture, photographs and other forms of print culture, cuisine, fashion, film, sports, games, gardens, architectural styles and urban planning are all manifestations of culture, as much as forms of “high culture” such as paintings, classical music and literary works. We will be focusing on patterns of exchange—or cross-cultural influence—through trade, colonialism, missionary work, collecting, travelers’ observations and so on either within Europe or between Europe and Asia (Asia is broadly defined here to include “East Asia,” “Southeast Asia,” “South Asia,” “the Middle East,” “Central Asia” etc.), although students could potentially choose to focus on another continent. Polo, for example, was an ancient game played in Persia and became highly popular among the English. Some of the topics we’ll collectively study are botanical gardens which were sites of global exchange, collection, and experiments; porcelain, which originated in China; chinoiserie, which flourished in Europe between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries influencing furniture, gardens, architecture, textile and porcelain; and World Fairs of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, at which vast quantities of items as well as people from around the world were on display.