Academic Courses & Programs

Urban Studies Short Courses

This series of short courses was created for the Institute for Shipboard Education, i.e., Semester at Sea, which for that semester was housed at the University of Virginia

The Most Perfect Day Off
Since the late 1980s international literary phenom Banana Yoshimoto has introduced the world to the joys and malaise of contemporary Japanese youth culture.  (She is also particularly talented at writing about contemporary Japanese food). Using some of her fictional writings as our guide we will take to the streets of Kobe by foot and walk through a young person's most perfect day off. Stopping off in coffee houses and department stores, clothing boutiques and record shops we will listen to and read aloud both Japanese and translated English passages of Yoshimoto's writings to try and find some of the specific characters, sounds, tastes and smells she so effectively describes.  We will also stop off at a bookstore to contextualize Yoshimoto's work in the context of other forms of narrative youth culture, as well as contemporary Japanese literature as a whole and at the end of our day toast Yoshimoto with a bowl of katsudon, the soup she famously wrote about in her debut novel Kitchen. • University of Virginia

Searching For Fortune Cookies
This is a two-part Field Practicum set in the streets of Shanghai and Hong Kong.  Using a list culled from Renee Tajima's documentary My America Or Honk If You Love Buddha, we will set out into the streets of two very different Chinese cities in search of traces of Chinese-American culture. Gleaning evidence from Shanghai's and Hong Kong's architecture, markets and street food we will figure out and literally track-down where distinctly Western inventions like fortune cookies and Chinatowns come from, making note of where these things can be found all across the United States, even in places with relatively small Chinese American populations. • University of Virginia

Introduction to South Asian Pop Cinema
Learn in one morning and afternoon the history and culture of South Asian Pop Cinema. We will meet at the Indian Coffee House, an important hang out for Cochin moviegoers for over twenty-five years. There, we will scour the daily newspapers for cinema listings and select three contemporary movies we will pop in and out of over the course of the afternoon. After a brief introduction to the history of both Malayalam and Bollywood Cinema, as well as the history of mainstream American movies in Cochin, we will set off on an urban hike through the city, which will take us past nine different movie theatres, three of which we'll stop off in to catch parts of the movies we selected earlier in the day, paying particular attention to the cultural protocol of purchasing tickets, buying popcorn and candy, watching advertisement, previews and, of course, parts of films. We will also at some point in the day visit a few newsstands to read and purchase movie magazines. • University of Virginia