nl en

The Information Age Across Asia and the Middle East (ResMA)


Admission requirements

This course is open to students of the MA Asian Studies (research) or MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) only. Other students who are interested need to get permission from the Board of Admissions. To obtain this permission they need to contact the student advisor, Ms. Nicole A.N.M. van Os.


How do information and knowledge cross national and regional borders? How do information systems create global and regional networks which facilitate new technologies and change society? This course studies how Information, information technologies and the transfer of knowledge have contributed to social, political, religious and economic change in the past, and how they do so today.

The course achieves this in two phases. In Phase One (the first half of the semester) we read together a range of scholarly literature from different disciplines about the Information age and the utilizations of information and knowledge in medieval, early-modern, modern and contemporary development, politics, society, religion and commerce. In Phase Two each Research Masters student presents her or his own mini-project discussing ‘The Information Age’ in relation to their own research area and historical or contemporary period. In the second half of the seminar we thereby learn from each other’s specialist areas of research, confronting research on Japan with that on the Middle East, China with India and Korea, the early-modern past with the post-modern present, etc. The idea is to stimulate a comparative approach for thinking about the meaning of an “Information Age” across Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

Course objectives

“The Information Age” is an expression commonly used to refer to an important facet of contemporary globalization. But the term is also used in scholarly writing to discuss the role of Asian knowledge and information systems in much earlier processes of modernization. Modernization in Japan, China and India have all recently been explained through theories which discuss the existence of an “information order” in eighteenth century Asia and the Middle East. This seminar seeks to confront and resolve with each other these different historical and contemporary scholarly approaches to information and knowledge.

The pedagogical aims of the seminar include developing student’s ability to:

  • carry out semi-independent research on topics related to information and knowledge history,

  • present area-specific research in a cross-area and cross disciplinary environment,

  • analyse the relationship between historical and contemporary social science academic literature in a given field,

  • originate and orally present a plan for an original, small piece of research,

  • present a small research project outcome in a professional written format.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar
    Attendance and participation in the discussions is mandatory. Each student is expected having done the assigned readings and prepared to discuss them with others. Bring the book or handout’s we are working on to each meeting. If an emergency requires you to miss a meeting, notify the instructor in time, and be prepared to have another student report on what you missed; you are responsible for seminar information and announcements whether present or not.

Course Load

Meetings: 12 × 2 hours = 24 hours
Readings and web postings: 76 hours
Presentation: 40 hours
End term paper: 140 hours
Total: 280 hours (= 10 ects)

Assessment method

  • Web-postings on set readings: 20% (of final grade)

  • Research Presentation: 20% (of final grade)

  • Research Paper (7,000 words): 60% (of final grade)
    The final paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.
    In order to pass the course, students must obtain an an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
    The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.



Reading list

Will be provided on Blackboard in first week of semester.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Studeren à la carte nor Contractonderwijs is possible for this course.


Dhr. Dr. K.N. Paramore