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The Game of Go and the Art of War in Early China

Semester and Year WI 2018
Course Number IDSEM-UG1964
Section 001
Instructor Ethan Harkness
Time 10:00 AM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM, PREMOD, GLOBAL



In this course, we will combine academic study with an experiential approach to the topic of strategy as an element of both structured play and warfare in early China. To set the stage, we will begin by thinking about the larger meaning of play as a universal human activity and contextualizing several examples of popular games from the Chinese tradition with background reading on related philosophical and cosmological beliefs. At the same time, we will learn the fundamentals of the ancient Chinese game of Go ( weiqi ), a favorite pastime of scholars and generals since the Han dynasty. Students will be introduced to on-line resources that allow them to play the game in real time with opponents from around the world, and they will also visit local New York City Go clubs. Using knowledge of Go strategy, students will then grapple with classical Chinese philosophy on the art of war by writers such as Sunzi and Sun Bin as well as selected works of Mozi, Guanzi, and Xunzi. Finally, we will conclude with modern echoes of the longstanding relationship between Go and warfare in literature such as Kawabata’s  The Master of Go  and Shan Sa’s  The Girl Who Played Go .


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)