1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Notification of Changes
  14. Custom Sections
  15. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  16. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  17. Severe Weather Protocol
  18. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  19. Religious Observances
  20. UAct Statement

Tales from Asia

REL 322-001Fall 2021 | 3 Credit Hours


Dr. Steven Ramey

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

With concurrency: .

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

This core writing course analyzes retellings of ancient tales within contemporary popular culture, investigating versions of two specific stories, the Ramayana and Journey to the West, to address issues surrounding myths and cultural identity and the ways people adapt stories for various ideological purposes, including the politics of translation, adaptation, and classification. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

In addition to counting for the Religious Studies major and minor, this course counts towards the Writing core requirements and the Asian Studies minor.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
  • YU(VP) / MONKEY & THE MONK (Required)
  • YU(VP) / (eBook) The Monkey and the Monk: An Abridgment of The Journey to the West (E - Book)

Course Objectives

This course will

  • Introduce religions of India and China

  • Present and apply various modes of analysis relevant to studying narratives popular in Asia

  • Analyze presentations and adaptations of the Ramayana

  • Analyze presentations and adaptations of Journey to the West

Student Learning Outcomes

Students in REL 322 will be able to

1) Analyze representations of tales from Asia and their ideological interests.

2) Apply critical analysis and theory to examples in popular culture and media.

3) Present in writing a comparative analysis of versions of a story of their choosing.

4) Develop effective written communication skills for academic writing

Other Course Materials

Additional Readings (marked with * in the Outline of Topics) will be available on Blackboard.

This course will make significant use of the Blackboard Learning system (https://ualearn.blackboard.com/) for Additional Readings, class notes, and some assignments. You will need internet access to complete the course, as well as access to a computer or other device. For general tutorials for Blackboard, you can go to https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Student/Watch_Videos. If you have problems with using Blackboard or anything else in the course, please contact the professor as early as possible.

Outline of Topics

The following schedule of topics, readings, and assignments is tentative and subject to change. Any changes will be announced in class and/or via email as early as possible, allowing sufficient time for students to adjust.





23 Aug


30 Aug

Interpreting Tales

* Barthes "Myth Today" pp. 109-117

* Hinduism chapter

13 Sept

Diversity in Tales from India

* Ramanujan "300 Ramayanas"

Ramayana pre-TOC page, Introduction, Prologue

* Lincoln "Pandits and Mr. Jones"

20 Sept

Ramayana 1

Ramayana thru chapter 3

* Erndl "Mutilation of Surpanakha"

27 Sept

Ramayana 2

Ramayana thru chapter 6

Analysis 1 due

4 Oct

Ramayana 3

Ramayana thru chapter 12

11 Oct

Ramayana 4

Finish Ramayana

* Richman "Ramasami's Reading"

18 Oct

Introducing China

*Chinese Religions chapter

Analysis 2 due

Journey chapters 1-2

25 Oct

Journey 1

Journey chapters 4-5, 7

1 Nov

Journey 2

Journey chapters 8, 12, 14, 19

8 Nov

Journey 3

Journey chapters 20-22, 26-27

Analysis 3 due

15 Nov

Adaptations of Journey

Yang American Born Chinese

Journey chapters 29-31

22 Nov

Final Paper discussion

No readings

Scheduled individual meetings (beginning the week of Nov 15) to discuss Final Paper Proposal (instead of submitted paper versions)

29 Nov

Peer Review and Conclusions

Draft due to peers by 5:00 pm on Nov. 28.

7 Dec

Final Analysis Paper

Due by 5:00 pm, along with image of peer review elements

Exams and Assignments

Participation Grade

In a seminar, discussion is important to share insights with others in the course and refine your own thinking. Participation, however, is not measured according to who speaks the most, as different people have different levels of comfort with talking extensively. Demonstrating that a student engages the course material and contributes to the course is an important part of participation. Such engagement and contribution can take various forms, including listening attentively to discussion, making occasional comments that advance discussion, adding extra comments on reading response discussions, and conversations with the professor outside of class sessions. (See also comments on Attendance policy below.)

Reading Response

Before the start of class each week, each student should post on the Blackboard discussion board a comment or questions responding to the assigned readings for that week (about 1 paragraph worth). Comments may address a specific passage or an issue across the entire reading. They may involve an observation about the representation of a particular issue (power dynamics, social relations, gender, religious identification, etc.) or observations about specific characters or events in the assigned readings. Each response is worth 10 points, with credit for a maximum of 10 responses out of the 12 weeks with assigned readings. It is useful for students to read other posts before coming to class, when possible, to have a broader basis for beginning conversation.

Analysis Papers

Each scholar will compose 3 formal academic papers (3 full double spaced pages each) that analyze one or two comic book, video, or narrative representations of tales from Asia, such as we discuss in the course. Each paper is due via email by class time on the day of class noted on the above schedule (Sept 27, Oct 18, Nov 8). The analysis in the paper should address some issue in the ways the narrative(s) are presented and reflect analytical approaches that we have discussed this semester. Possibilities include comparing two tellings of the same narrative, the way one or two comics addresses a particular issue (e.g., gender, morality, nationalism, social hierarchy, etc.), or the overall impression that a particular version makes based on its selected wording and images. Accurate citations/references are required for any academic paper. As a part of the Writing component of the course, we may use one of more of these papers in class as part of a Peer Editing exercise, but you will be alerted of this before the time for submission

Final Analysis Paper - 3 Steps

Each scholar must prepare and write a 10+ page analysis paper on version(s) of an Asian tale of their own choosing, which will be graded according to the grading rubric presented in class early in the semester. The selection of the tale and the mode of analysis must take place in consultation with the professor that will take place from Nov 15 to Nov 22 (replacing the class session on Nov 22). In these meetings, each student will describe or develop the topic in conversation with the professor, including the anticipated analysis, the versions being compared, and, most importantly, the argument that the student anticipates making.

The second step in the process is to present a draft for peer review. Scholars will be assigned a peer review writing group. Each scholar must submit a complete draft to the group through Blackboard by 5:00 pm on 28 Nov. Each group member should review and comment on the other draft(s) in the group before class on 29 Nov. Class that day will involve small groups discussing the drafts and brainstorming ways of improving them, as well as some concluding comments for the semester.

The final analysis paper must be a formal academic paper that demonstrates analytical and critical thinking skills, presents a coherent argument, and reflects careful editing. The paper will serve as the final exam and is due at the time set by the university for the final exam (7 Dec, 5:00 pm). I expect quality academic research making use of primary sources, peer-reviewed journals and books in Gorgas Library (and its electronic resources) as appropriate, and the approaches discussed in class. Accurate citations/references are required for any academic paper. When submitting the final paper, scholars must include images of the peer review worksheets along with the final draft.

Grading Policy


Points (Total 1000 possible)

Participation in discussion


Reading Responses (10 each, maximum of 10 submitted)


Analysis 1


Analysis 2


Analysis 3


Peer Review Exercise (draft 50 points, review of other drafts 50 points)


Final Analysis Paper


Final grades will be based on the following ranges: 970-1000 = A+; 920-969 = A; 900-919 = A-; 870-899 = B+; 820-869 = B; 800-819 = B-; 770-799 = C+; 720-769 = C; 700-719= C-; 600-699 = D; 0-599 = F

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Due to the progressive and cooperative nature of this writing course, late submissions of written work limit the successful feedback for the person completing the work. However, the uncertainty and stresses of the times mean leniency is in order. Late submissions will be accepted as much as possible. Please let the professor know as soon as possible plans for submitting late work. For the peer review, a late draft prohibits full interaction and will reduce points available on that component. Final papers not submitted by the end of the course may result in an Incomplete (I) grade, which counts as an F until it is resolved. I will ask anyone receiving an Incomplete for a plan to submit the missing material.

Please alert me as soon as possible about complications with submitting material on time so that I can work with you in a manner that is fair to both you and other students in the course..

Attendance Policy

Participation in the discussion portions of the course are important for everyone's learning. However, with the uncertainty and stresses of these times, I will not penalize students for non-attendance. Notes from class sessions, with links and instructions for viewing clips presented in class, will be posted on Blackboard in case someone is unable to attend, for whatever reason. If you are concerned about the Participation grade because of attendance issues, please consult with me. Additional comments in the reading response discussion and discussion with the professor outside of class (email, virtual or in person office hours) will contribute to the participation grade, so participation is possible even if someone is unable to attend a particular class session.

Notification of Changes

The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility.  The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact)  provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, hate or bias incidents, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.

Statement on COVID-19

All University faculty, staff, and students are expected to maintain a commitment to the health and safety of our campus community. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, specific health and safety standards are in place to minimize exposure and community spread on campus. In the interest of your health and safety and that of all UA students, faculty and staff, the University reserves the right to change the mode of instruction or schedule of instruction at any time, based upon prevailing public health and other guidance. While the method of delivery may change, educational instruction and opportunities will continue. As such, the University will not provide a refund of tuition, in whole or in-part, based on any such changes. Detailed information on changes in format or schedule can be found at studentaccounts.ua.edu and financialaid.ua.edu.

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