01:098:321  Topics in Asian Studies 

Disclaimer: The topics may vary each semester.

This course drops you to Vietnam, a place right at the crossroads of Southeast and East Asia. You will learn to analyze a wide range of approaches by which the Vietnamese, including their diaspora, have come to identify themselves, memorize their histories, and reproduce their cultures. Some examples include the Vietnamese perception of Chinese influence and their complex memories about colonial experience, the so-called Vietnam War, and national divides. Making use of literature and films, the course will reveal social shifts in Vietnam, a country rich in tradition, yet open to change. The course is designed to equip you with a good experience upon which you can 1) embark on or further your study of the Vietnamese language; 2) gain a comparative perspective to advance skills and knowledge in other specialized classes in Southeast and East Asian History, as well as in Asian Studies. For more Rutgers courses in Asian Studies, see: https://go.rutgers.edu/e9idfxvh

There are no required textbooks. All study materials of the course, including films, will be distributed through Canvas. Beside Canvas (and Zoom), we use Google Drive and a collaborative annotation tool called Perusall. You can access Persuall through Canvas (registration might be needed).

By the end of the course, I hope that you will be able to:

  • identify key terms and concepts related to the history of Vietnam, the Vietnamese people, and their language and cultures
  • appreciate the multiple perspectives about Vietnam
  • advance verbal and written communication skills through studying select topics in Vietnamese studies
  • explore new ways of understanding the human condition through the lens of Vietnamese culture(s)

Successful completion of the course fulfills one of the elective courses in Asian Studies (098) Major/Minors of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures: https://go.rutgers.edu/ifyman1r

Discussion Posts [DP] (10 pts) and Perusall Annotations [PA] (15 pts) are designed to prepare you to do larger assignments like roundtable participation and paper writing.

  • Two (2) DPs (125-300 words), submitted to Canvas, and three (3) PAs are required; each is worth 5 points and due at noon in the previous day of the corresponding class (i.e., either Sunday or Tuesday noon). There are 6 DPs and 10 PAs in total, but you are only required to do 2 DPs and 3 PAs. See the last column of the Class Schedule for the dates in which you can submit PAs or DPs.
  • How to lose points for each DP or PA submission?
    • You might lose up to 2 points if your DP/PA is not grounded on your thorough reading of the materials. You will lose up to 1 point if you submit your DP/PA late.
  • Use the provided Google Spreadsheet to keep records of your work.

Roundtable Participation [RP] (16 pts): Through the semester, each student will take responsibility to participate in two (2) roundtable panels.

  • What is roundtable discussion? A roundtable discussion is somewhat similar to a group presentation of 4-5 presenters. The key difference is that the roundtable discussion will be led by a moderator who will be responsible for introducing the central question of the 4 discussion and connecting the ideas presented by other roundtable participants. The roundtable discussion should be also more conversational in the sense that participants will talk with one another rather than simply present their materials to the audience. More detailed guides to organizing roundtables will be distributed through Canvas.
    • Use the provided Google Spreadsheet to register for your roundtable talk.
    • How to earn points for your roundtable:
      • 3 points: Submit your reading notes through the provided Google Doc by noon in the previous day of the corresponding class. This activity aims at sharing what you plan to discuss in your panel with other roundtable participants.
      • 4 points: Contribute a good, relevant discussion of the question raised in your roundtable. Your discussion must use specific evidence/example from the assigned reading. If you serve as a moderator, you must provide a good introduction and wrap-up message of your roundtable.
      • 1 point: Link your opinion/analysis with other roundtable participants’ opinions.

Paper Writing (30 pts): Two 800-1000-word papers (each worth 15 pts) are required. Each paper is a synthetic analysis of a topic drawing from our course. The detailed guides for each paper will be distributed during the semester. Paper #1 discusses the role of women and family in Vietnamese history, and Paper #2 will be on the war experiences in twentieth-century Vietnam.

Final Project (24 pts): A final paper (800-1000 words, illustrations and bibliography are not counted), exploring one topic of interest from the course content, is due on Dec-21 (Wednesday) at midnight. The final project guides you to conduct a research paper through several steps, including proposal submission, preparation of an outline and first draft, paper presentation, and final revision. Each of these steps will be graded. Your final project submission will only be accepted when you submit your proposal on time. The detailed guides to conducting your final project will be distributed later in the semester.

Length of written assignments: Each assignment has a firm word count. If your submission exceeds or does not meet the word/page limit, revise it.

Late Assignment Policies: You will lose up to 1 point if you submit PAs after the corresponding classes. A deduction of 1% to 10% of the final grade will be applied to any late submission of other written assignments.

Keep Track of Your Assignment Submissions: Use the provided Google Spreadsheet to keep a record of your submissions of journals and Perusall assignments.

Originality of your work: Your written assignments should be your own original work. All papers must be conducted in academic written language.

Reusing past work: In general, you are prohibited in university courses from turning in work from a past class to your current class, even if you modify it. If you want to build on past research or revisit a topic you've explored in previous courses, please discuss the situation with an instructor.

Falsifying research or results: All research you will conduct in this course is intended to be a learning experience; you should never feel tempted to make your results or your library research look more successful than it was.

I encourage you to cultivate a sense of teamwork. Your participation is as invaluable as that of any other participants, including mine. Be on time.

Absences: If you are unable to attend our class, let me know 24 hours ahead of time or ASAP. You’re encouraged to report absences using the University self-reporting absence system: https://sims.rutgers.edu/ssra/.

Students who have a prolonged health and/or financial issues that are impacting their academics and well-being over an extended period of time should contact the Dean of Students at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can miss no more than 2 classes, regardless of the excuse. After the third missed class, you will be asked to write a 1-page summary of the assigned readings AND an additional reading that serves as a replacement to the missing lecture. Contact me to get access to the corresponding additional reading. Missing more than two classes without make-up submission will result in a warning grade.

Because learning about the past asks us to trace long-term processes, it is important to keep up with the flow of the class. Missing too many classes will prevent you from being successful in completing many assignments, including journals, roundtable participation, and paper writing.

Do make use of my office hours to make up the class you miss.