ASIAN 480 - Topics in Asian Studies
Winter 2021, Section 003 - Three Kingdoms Lab: From History to Video Games
Instruction Mode: Section 003 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected four times for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/19/21 - 4/21/21 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Constant, violent warfare characterized the “Three Kingdoms” period (220-280 CE), as valiant men exhausted their wits and their strength in an ultimate battle to make their kingdom – Wei, Shu, or Wu – the legitimate successor of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). These regional forces battled ferociously for what they all knew would someday be a single, united country once again: long divided, the empire must unite.

War often sparks technological innovation (think of flight, computers, or even the internet). The heroes, weapons, and innovative strategies recorded in histories of this period have captured the imagination of people – in China and throughout East Asia – for almost two millennia, in the pages of novels, on the theatrical stage, in New Year’s prints, in shrines, and in oral storytelling. The past several decades, through translations, films, and gaming, have seen an international explosion of interest in these stories.

In this course, we will explore the saga of the Three Kingdoms as it transforms across a range of media. We will see history rewritten, theater giving old stories new life on stage, and illustrations and prints adding vibrancy to oral and textual traditions. Around 1522, the most extensive creative reworking of the story material was published in what is now called China’s first novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In recent years, comic book versions of the story have been joined by an international profusion of television series, films, video games, fan fiction, and online forums. We will make our way slowly through this novel together, discussing what makes it so powerful and so pleasurable. How does a single story transform from one genre to another, and why is it still so influential and popular today?

We will attempt to answer this question through our own reading of the novel and through supplementary texts that include both academic (criticism, commentary, theory) and non-academic (fan websites, card games, collectibles) materials. Our first meeting each week will usually focus on the novel and our second meeting on one or more of these related texts. We’ll do a substantial amount of reading, but we’ll also watch a movie, view a Peking Opera, play a lot of video games, and conclude with an open-ended collaborative project.

Class Format:

One 3-hour seminar weekly. As a DC (Distance due to COVID) course, all aspects of this course will be fully compatible with remote online learning. However, students will need to be available for virtual class meetings at their scheduled times.


ASIAN 480 - Topics in Asian Studies
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
1/19/21 - 4/21/21
Note: Meets-with AMCULT 405.004 (5 seats) and WGS 435.004 (5 seats).
003 (SEM)
Tu 4:00PM - 7:00PM
1/19/21 - 4/21/21
005 (SEM)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
1/19/21 - 4/21/21
Note: Meets-with SEAS 455 "Environmental Crises in Southeast Asia: Past and Present". Synchronous on M/W 1:00-2:30pm.

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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