Recommended Courses for First-Year Students

The language courses listed below are introductory level. Students who have a working knowledge of a foreign language may take a language placement exam to determine what level instruction to take. For further information on placement exams, please visit https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/placementexams

Chinese UN1101 First Year Chinese I. 5 pts.
The course is designed to develop basic skills in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing modern colloquial Chinese. Standard Chinese pronunciation, traditional characters. Students who can already speak Mandarin will not be accepted into this course. Section subject to cancellation if under-enrolled. CC GS EN CE

Chinese UN1111 First Year Chinese W. 5 pts.
The course is specially designed for students of Chinese heritage and advanced beginners with good speaking skills. It aims to develop the student's basic skills to read and write modern colloquial Chinese. Pinyin system is introduced; standard Chinese pronunciation, and traditional characters. Classes will be conducted mostly in Chinese. Open to students with Mandarin speaking ability in Chinese only. CC GS EN CE

Indonesian UN1101 section 001 Elementary Indonesian I. 4 pts.
This course offers students an introduction to the basic structures of Bahasa Indonesia, a major language of Indonesia and South East Asia.

Japanese UN1101 First Year Japanese I. 5 pts.
Basic training in Japanese through speaking, listening, reading and writing in various cultural contexts.

Korean UN1101 First Year Korean I. 5 pts.
An introduction to written and spoken Korean. Textbook: Integrated Korean, Beginning I and II.

Middle East UN1101 First Year Tamil I. 4 pts.
Introduces students to the basic grammatical and syntactical skills required to function adequately in a Tamil-speaking environment. Of particular interest to students planning to conduct scholarly research or fieldwork in that region of the world. Introduces students to the rich culture of the Indian subcontinent where Tamil is spoken. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1210 First Year Arabic I. 5 pts.
An introduction to the language of classical and modern Arabic literature. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1211 section 001 First Year Arabic II. 5 pts.
Prerequisites: First Year Arabic I or instructor permission. An introduction to the language of classical and modern Arabic literature. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN2208 Arabic for Heritage Speakers I. 5 pts.
This is an intensive course that combines the curriculum of both First and Second Year Arabic in two semesters instead of four, and focuses on the productive skills (speaking and writing) in Modern Standard Arabic (Fusha). Students are exposed intensively to grammar and vocabulary of a high register. After successful completion of this course, students will be able to move on to Third Year Arabic. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1301 Elementary Armenian I. 4 pts.
In Elementary Armenian I, students learn the Armenian script and the basic grammar that will enable them to communicate about topics relating to themselves and their immediate surroundings: family, school, daily occupations, describing people, expressing likes and dislikes, requesting and giving information about themselves and others, proper forms of greetings, etc. They also begin to read signs, advertisements, and develop the skills to read texts like short stories and Armenian fables. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1309 Intensive Armenian for Heritage Speakers. 4 pts.
Intensive Armenian for Heritage Speakers is an accelerated course for students of Armenian origin who already have basic knowledge of the spoken language and are able to converse on familiar topics relating to themselves and their immediate surroundings. The course will focus on developing their skills in reading, writing, and speaking and Armenian grammar and vocabulary. By the end of the course, students will be able to read, write and discuss simple texts. Placement will be based on an interview and questionnaire about their background. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1401 Elementary Sanskrit I. 4 pts.
An introduction to classical Sanskrit. Grammar, and reading of texts. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1501 First Year Modern Hebrew: Elementary I. 5 pts.
This is an introductory course for which no prior knowledge is required. Equal emphasis is given to listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar. Daily homework includes grammar exercises, short answers, reading, or paragraph writing. Frequent vocabulary and grammar quizzes. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN2517 Hebrew for Heritage Speakers I. 4 pts.
Hebrew for Heritage Speakers I forms part of a year-long sequence with Hebrew for Heritage Speakers II. The course is intended for those who have developed basic speaking and listening skills through exposure to Hebrew at home or in day-school programs but do not use Hebrew as their dominant language and have not reached the level required for exemption from the Columbia language requirement. Heritage speakers differ in the degree of their fluency, but their vocabulary is often limited to topics in daily life and many lack skills in reading and writing to match their ability to converse. The course focuses on grammar and vocabulary enrichment, exposing students to a variety of cultural and social topics in daily life and beyond. By the end of the semester students are able to read and discuss simple texts and write about a variety of topics. Successful completion of the year-long sequence prepares students to enroll in third-year modern Hebrew. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1601 Elementary Hindi-Urdu I. 5 pts.
An introduction to the most widely spoken language of South Asia. Along with an understanding of the grammar, the course offers practice in listening and speaking. The Hindi (Devanagari) script is used for reading and writing. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1608 Hindi for Heritage Speakers I. 5 pts.
This is an accelerated course for students of South Asian origin who already possess a knowledge of basic vocabulary and limited speaking and listening skills in Hindi. They may not have sufficient skills in reading and writing but are able to converse on familiar topics such as: self, family, likes, dislikes and immediate surroundings. This course will focus on developing knowledge of the basic grammar of Hindi and vocabulary enrichment by exposing students to a variety of cultural and social topics related to aspects of daily life; and formal and informal registers. Students will be able to read and discuss simple texts and write about a variety of everyday topics by the end of the semester. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1614 Urdu for Heritage Speakers I. 5 pts.
Prerequisites: a knowledge of basic vocabulary and limited speaking and listening skills in Urdu. This is an accelerated course for students of South Asian origin who already possess a knowledge of basic vocabulary and limited speaking and listening skills in Urdu. They are not expected to know how to read and write in Urdu but are able to converse on familiar topics such as self, family, likes, dislikes and immediate surroundings. This course will focus on developing knowledge of the basic grammar of Urdu and vocabulary enrichment by exposing students to a variety of cultural and social topics related to aspects of daily life; and formal and informal registers. Students will be able to read and discuss simple Urdu texts and write about a variety of everyday topics by the end of the semester. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1701 Elementary Persian I. 4 pts.
An introduction to the spoken and written language of contemporary Iran. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Middle East UN1901 Elementary Modern Turkish I. 4 pts.
An introduction to the written and spoken language of Turkey. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Swahili UN1101 section 001 Elementary Swahili I. 4 pts.
Essentials of grammar, basic vocabulary, practice in speaking and reading Swahili the most widely used indigenous language of East Africa. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Tibetan UN1410 First Year Classical Tibetan I. 4pts.

Tibetan UN1600 First Year Modern Colloquial Tibet I. 5 pts.

Vietnamese UN1101 First Year Vietnamese I. 4 pts.

Asian Humanities UN1400 Colloquium on Major Texts. 4 pts.
This course explores the core classical literature in Chinese, Japanese and Korean Humanities. The main objective of the course is to discover the meanings that these literature offer, not just for the original audience or for the respective cultures, but for us. As such, it is not a survey or a lecture-based course. Rather than being taught what meanings are to be derived from the texts, we explore meanings together, informed by in-depth reading and thorough ongoing discussion.

Asian Humanities UN2604 Arts of China, Japan and Korea. 3 pts.
Introduces distinctive aesthetic traditions of China, Japan, and Korea--their similarities and differences--through an examination of the visual significance of selected works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other arts in relation to the history, culture, and religions of East Asia.

Asian Humanities UN2800 Arts of Islam. 3 pts.
This introductory course attempts to cover the first 300 years, from circa 700-1000 AD, stressing the birth of Islam as the birth of a new aesthetic phenomenon in the Mediterranean Basin, Near East and Central Asia and its appropriations and innovations in creating a novel imperial style, while, at the same time, questioning the modern historiographies and narratives for these masterpieces.

Asian Humanities UN2901 Masterpieces-Indian Art and Architecture. 3 pts.
Introduction to 2000 years of art on the Indian subcontinent. The course covers the early art of Buddhism, rock-cut architecture of the Buddhists and Hindus, the development of the Hindu temple, Mughal and Rajput painting and architecture, art of the colonial period, and the emergence of the Modern.

Asian Humanities UN3399 Major Texts: Middle East/India. 4 pts.
Readings in translation and discussion of texts of Middle Eastern and Indian origin. Readings may include the Qur'an, Islamic philosophy, Sufi poetry, the Upanishads, Buddhist sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, Indian epics and drama, and Gandhi's Autobiography.

Asian Humanities UN3830 Colloquium on Modern East Asian Texts. 4 pts.
Prerequisites: AHUM V3400 is recommended as background. Introduction to and exploration of modern East Asian literature through close reading and discussion of selected masterpieces from the 1890s through the 1990s by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writers such as Mori Ogai, Wu Jianren, Natsume Soseki, Lu Xun, Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, Shen Congwen, Ding Ling, Eileen Chang, Yi Sang, Oe Kenzaburo, O Chong-hui, and others. Emphasis will be on cultural and intellectual issues and on how literary forms manifested, constructed, or responded to rapidly shifting experiences of modernity in East Asia.

East Asian UN1002 Intro to Major Topics: East Asian. 4 pts.
An interdisciplinary and topical approach to the major issues and phases of East Asian civilizations and their role in the contemporary world.

East Asian UN1359 Intro to East Asian Civilization: China. 4 pts.
Corequisites: Students must register for a discussion section, ASCE V2360. The evolution of Chinese civilization from ancient times to the 20th century, with emphasis on characteristic institutions and traditions.

East Asian UN1361 Intro to East Asian Civilization: Japan. 4 pts.
Corequisites: Students must register for a discussion section ASCE V2371. A survey of important events and individuals, prominent literary and artistic works, and recurring themes in the history of Japan, from prehistory to the 20th century.

East Asian UN1365 Intro to East Asian Civilization: Tibet. 4 pts.
This course seeks to introduce the sweep of Tibetan civilization and its history from its earliest recorded origins to the present. The course examines what civilizational forces shaped Tibet, especially the contributions of Indian Buddhism, sciences and literature, but also Chinese statecraft and sciences. Alongside the chronological history of Tibet, we will explore aspects of social life and culture.

East Asian UN1367 Intro to East Asian Civilization: Vietnam. 4 pts.
This course provides a survey of Vietnamese civilization from prehistoric origins to the French colonization in the 19th century, with special emphasis on the rise and development of independent kingship over the 2nd millennium CE. We begin by exploring ethnolinguistic diversity of the Red River plain over the first millenium BCE, culminating in the material bronze culture known as the Dong Son. We then turn towards the introduction of high sinitic culture, and the region's long membership within successive Chinese empires. We pay special attention to the rise of an independent state out of the crumbling Tang Dynasty, and the specific nation-building effects of war with the Mongols and the Ming Dynasty, in the 14th and 15th centuries respectively. Our class ends with the French colonization of the region, and the dramatic cultural and intellectual transformations that were triggered as a result. Our course will interrogate Vietnamese culture as a protean object, one that is defined and redefined at virtually every level, throughout a history marked by foreign interest, influence, and invasion.

East Asian UN3322 East Asian Cinema. 4pts.
This course introduces students to major works, genres and waves of East Asian cinema from the Silent era to the present, including films from Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. How has cinema participated in East Asian societies’ distinct and shared experiences of industrial modernity, imperialism and (post)colonialism? How has cinema engaged with questions of class, gender, ethnic and language politics? In what ways has cinema facilitated transnational circulations and mobilizations of peoples and ideas, and how has it interacted with other art forms, such as theatre, painting, photography and music? In this class, we answer these questions by studying cinemas across the region sideby- side, understanding cinema as deeply embedded in the region’s intertwining political, social and cultural histories and circulations of people and ideas. We cover a variety of genres such as melodrama, comedy, historical epic, sci-fi, martial arts and action, and prominent film auteurs such as Yasujirō Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Yu Hyŏnmok, Chen Kaige, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Ann Hui. As cinema is, among other things, a creative practice, in this course, students will be given opportunities to respond to films analytically and creatively, through writing as well as creative visual projects. As a global core course, this class does not assume prior knowledge of East Asian culture or of film studies.

Middle East UN2003 Intro to Islamic Civilization. 4 pts.
Lecture and recitation. Islamic civilization and its characteristic intellectual, political, social, and cultural traditions up through 1800.

Middle East UN2357 Intro to Indian Civilization. 4 pts.
Introduction to Indian civilization with attention to both its unity and its diversity across the Indian subcontinent. Consideration of its origins, formative development, fundamental social institutions, religious thought and practice (Vedic, Buddhist, Jain, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh), literary and artistic achievements, and modern challenges.

Middle East UN2810 History of South Asia I. 4 pts.
This survey lecture course will provide students with a broad overview of the history of South Asia as a region - focusing on key political, cultural and social developments over more than two millennia. The readings include both primary sources (in translation) and secondary works. Our key concerns will be the political, cultural and theological encounters of varied communities, the growth of cities and urban spaces, networks of trade and migrations and the development of both local and cosmopolitan cultures across Southern Asia. The survey will begin with early dynasties of the classical period and then turn to the subsequent formation of various Perso-Turkic polities, including the development and growth of hybrid political cultures such as those of Vijayanagar and the Mughals. The course also touches on Indic spiritual and literary traditions such as Sufi and Bhakti movements. Near the end of our course, we will look forward towards the establishment of European trading companies and accompanying colonial powers.

Middle East UN2915 Africa Before Colonialism. 4 pts.
This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the precolonial history of the African continent. It investigates in-depth the political, social, cultural and economic developments of different Africa communities, covering various regions and periods, from prehistory to the formation of the Indian Ocean and Atlantic worlds. Its focus is the intersection of politics, economics, culture and society. Using world history and Africa’s location in the production of history as key analytical frames, it pays special attention to social, political and cultural changes that shaped the various individual and collective experiences of African peoples and states and the historical discourses associated to them.

Middle East UN3000 Theory and Culture. 4 pts.
Required of all majors. Introduces theories of culture particularly related to the Middle East, South Asia. and Africa. Theoretical debates on the nature and function of culture as a symbolic reading of human collectivities. Examines critical cultural studies of the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Enables students to articulate their emerging knowledge of Middle East, South Asian, and African cultures in a theoretically informed language.