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Plan II Honors

Chiu-Mi Lai

Senior LecturerPh.D., University of Washington



Courses taught:
Undergraduate: Ideas and Concepts in Classical Chinese Literature; Decoding Classical Chinese Poetry; Communion with Nature in Traditional Chinese Literature; Identity and Memory in Asian American Literature; Why Chinese Has No Alphabet; Senior Seminar: Let Me Tell You About Asia: Perceptions of Asia in Fiction, Travelogues, and Memoirs; The Dead are Alive: Supernatural in Traditional Chinese Fiction; Cultural Outsider Memoirs of East Asia; Cultural Memory and the Classic Chinese Novel; Lost in Translation: History of Chinese Language and Translation

Graduate: Asian Studies Academic Writing (for non-native speakers of English)


T C 302 • Landscape Tales: Art, Lit, Geo

42355 • Spring 2015
Meets W 200pm-500pm CRD 007A

Instructors:  Dr. Chiu-Mi Lai (Asian Studies) and Dr. David Mohrig (Geological Sciences)


This first-year seminar is designed to provide an interdisciplinary approach to “understanding” landscapes, and to explore the dynamics between academic and artistic dialogues by scientists, scholars, writers, and artists.  The course will view notable landscapes of central and East Asia, Western Europe, and the American West through the lenses of art, literature and geology.  Visual and literary representations of natural landscapes are interpreted through geological analysis of the processes that sculpt Earth surfaces with the aim of studying the human response to striking topographic features.  Lectures and readings complement the primary works of art and literature to be explored.  Many aspects of the physics of landscapes will be developed from first principles through guided-inquiry laboratory exercises by Professor Mohrig and students in the course.

[No previous background in art, literature or geology required.]

Required Texts:

 Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory

Required Course Packet: (to be available, University Co-op)

Includes readings from:

Paul Bierman and David Montgomery, Key Concepts in Geomorphology, W.H. Freeman, 2013,

Richard Mabey, ed. The Oxford Book of Nature Writing

Michael Sullivan, The Three Perfections: Chinese Painting, Poetry and Calligraphy,

Revised edition: George Braziller, 1999 [custom-printed at Paradigm Books]

Susan Whitfield, Life Along the Silk Road

 Additional Readings:

Richard M Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting

Rachael Ziady DeLue and James Elkins, eds. Landscape Theory

Denis Wood and John Fels, The Natures of Maps: Cartographic Constructions of the Natural


Images, articles, and book chapters on art, literature and geology will be posted on Canvas  

CLASS FIELD TRIPS:       The Blanton Museum, The Harry Ransom Center, Waller Creek, local geological sites, UT Morphodynamics Lab (location of laboratory exercises)


This course will be graded on the Plus/Minus system.

There is an attendance policy in this course.  There is no written final exam for this course. 

 Final Grade for this course will be based on the following:

 I.         15%    Class discussion and participation 

II.        30%    Laboratory Exercises and Reports

III.       50%    *Formal Written Assignments:  Essays, writing and revision assignments

IV.        5%      Oral Presentation (Powerpoint of Prezi) on an University “Gem” 


Dr. Chiu-Mi Lai -- Dr. Chiu-Mi Lai is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Literature in Asian Studies and teaches courses on Chinese literature and cultural studies (classical Chinese poetry, the “supernatural” in Chinese fiction) and linguistics (Chinese writing system, translation approaches).   At Rice University, Dr. Lai became involved in educational outreach work with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and continues to be active in the greater UT community (educational outreach lectures on Chinese language and culture).  She loves dogs, sci-fi fantasy, and sports. 

Dr. David Mohrig -- Professor David Mohrig studies the evolution of landscapes and landforms on Earth and other planets. He observes the dynamic behavior of topography at very short to very long time and space scales, with particular emphasis on processes controlling channel formation. Research methods used by his group include carefully designed laboratory and natural experiments on sediment-transporting flows, field studies of modern and ancient landscapes, theoretical modeling of evolving bed topography, and the remote sensing of subsurface sedimentary deposits using seismic data.  He holds the J.E. Elliott Centennial Professor in Geological Sciences and is a UT Baseball fan.



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    University of Texas at Austin
    305 East 23rd St
    CLA 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250