Chinese civilization in historical perspective

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1Amherst College Fall 2009

History 15/ALC 24f T/Th 2:00-3:20
Professor Jerry Dennerline Office hours: Tues/Thurs. 3:30-4:00

Office: Chapin 12 Wed. 1:00-3:00

E-mail:; Phone: 542-2486 And by appointment
Course Materials
The following books are available for purchase at Amherst Books:
China: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, by Patricia B. Ebrey

A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in Ming China, by Sarah Schneewind

Confucius: The Analects, tr. D. C. Lau

Mencius, tr. D. C. Lau

Hsün Tzu: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson

Stories from a Ming Collection, Cyril Birch

Emperor of China: A Portrait of Kang Hsi, Jonathan D. Spence
Copies of these books are also on reserve at Frost Library. A Collection of Readings, Part I and Part II, will be available at the History Department Office, Chapin 11. There will be a fee to cover the expense of photo-copying.
Course Description and Requirements
This course is designed to introduce students to a broad array issues and sources in Chinese history and culture from the earliest records to the eighteenth century. No familiarity with China or previous experience in the study of history is required. We will explore meanings in texts and other sources, relating traditional Chinese philosophy, religion, art, fiction, historical narrative, statecraft, and social thought to their historical contexts and to current events. Class meetings include brief lectures, which supplement readings from China: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, and reading and discussion of primary sources and interpretive articles. The first requirement is to read the assigned material in preparation for class. If you know that you will be unable to attend a class, inform me of the reason in advance. Repeated unexcused absence will lower the grade. Grades are based on successful completion of the following assignments:
Regular weekly one-page responses and oral exercises, which serve as the basis for class discussions (25%), in accordance with posted guidelines and suggested topics. Three 4-5 page papers (45%) on topics of the student’s choice, based on material covered in class up to the due dates: Oct. 5, Nov. 2, Nov. 20.. One 7-8 page essay (30%) in lieu of a final exam, designed by the student in consultation with the instructor in accordance with guidelines distributed in advance, due on Dec. 21.

Thurs., Sept. 10 Introduction: Geography, Language, and History
Tues., Sept. 15 Western Zhou: History and Sources

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 1-22; Edward Shaughnessy, “The Composition of ‘Qian’ and ‘Kun’ Hexagrams of the Zhouyi,”in Before Confucius, pp. 197-212, and “Western Zhou History,” pp. 320-25 and 331-38; Book of Songs, tr. Arthur Waley, selections.
Thurs., Sept. 17 Eastern Zhou: History and Sources

Read: Ebrey, China, 23-28; J. Dennerline, Mandate of Heaven Lost: the Spring and Autumn World (15p); ”The Chong Er Saga” and “Xia Ji of Chen” from Zuozhuan, tr. Eric Henry in Readings in Chinese Historical Legend.
Tues., Sept. 22 Confucius and the Analects

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 28-40.

Confucius: The Analects, tr. D.C. Lau, early selections, 479-436 B.C.E.:

4:1-14, 16-17;

5:1-6, 8-12, 15, 17-21, 23-25, 27-28;

6:1-14, 16, 18-23, 25-27;

7:1-3, 5-8, 12, 14, 16-17, 19-20, 22-24, 26, 28-30, 33-35;

8:3, 5-7.

Thurs., Sept. 24 Confucius: Mentor and Patron

Read: D.C. Lau, “The Disciples as they Appear in the Analects,” in The Analects, Appendix II.
Tues., Sept. 29 After Confucius: Heaven, Kingship, and the Way

Read: Mo Tzu (Mozi), "The Will of Heaven," in Sources of Chinese Tradition, pp. 46-49; Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching, selections; and Confucius: The Analects, tr. D.C. Lau, student selections.
Thurs., Oct. 1 After Confucius: Human Nature and the Way

Read: Mencius, 2A:6; 3A:4-5; 7A1-15, 26, 27, 30; Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi), selections; Hsün Tzu, “Man’s Nature is Evil,” pp. 157-171.
Monday, Oct 5: Paper due.

Tues., Oct. 6 Mencius on Knowing, Kingship and the Way of Governing

Read: J. Dennerline, Mandate of Heaven Revived: Warring States Scholars and Kings (6p); Mencius, 1A:1, 3. 4. 7; 1B:5, 6, 8, 12-15.
Thurs., Oct. 8 Xunzi (Hsün Tzu) on Knowing, Heaven and the Way of Man

Read: J. Dennerline, Mandate of Heaven Revised: Ritual, Law, and the Way of Empire (7p); Hsün Tzu, tr. Watson, “Dispelling Obsession,” pp. 121-138; “A Discussion of Heaven,” pp. 79-89.
Tues., Oct. 13 Ritual, Law, and Empire

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 41-63; Karen Turner, “Sage Kings and Laws in the Chinese and Greek Traditions,” in Heritage of China, ed. Paul Ropp, pp. 86-111; Hsün Tzu, “A Discussion of Rites,” pp. 89-112.
Thurs., Oct. 15 Xunzi and Han Feizi on Law

Read: Hsün Tzu, “Regulations of a King;” pp. 33-56 ; Han Fei Tzu, selections.
Tues., Oct.20 Empire: Qin and Han

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 41-63; Sima Qian, “Biography of Lü Buwei;” Jia Yi, “The Faults of Qin”

View: “The Emperor and the Assassin” (Streaming, or PN1997 .E4447 VideoDVD)
Thurs., Oct. 22 Han Spirituality: the Historian and the Poet

Read: Records of the Grand Historian, “Biographies of Ch’ü Yüan (Qu Yuan) and Master Chia (Jia Yi);” Ch’u Tz’u: The Songs of the South, tr. David Hawkes, “Li Sao.”
Tues., Oct. 27 The Dialogue between Steppe and Sown

Read: Records of the Grand Historian, “The Hsiung-nu,” excerpts; Thomas J. Barfield, “The Hsiung-nu Imperial Confederacy: Organizations and Foreign Policy,” Journal of Asian Studies, 41.1, pp. 45-61.
Thurs., Oct 29 Han to Tang: Buddhism and the Cosmology Wars

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 63-108; “Hui-yüan,” in Sources; “The Earliest Tales of the Bodhisattva Guanshiyin,” in Religions of China in Practice, pp. 82-95; “Han Yü’s Counterattack on Buddhism and Taoism,” in Sources, pp. 426-37.
Monday, Nov. 2: Paper due.
Tues., Nov 3 Contending Empires, Commerce, and Neo-Confucian Response

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 109-35; “The Great Learning” and “The Doctrine of the Mean.”
Thurs., Nov. 5 Buddhism in the Spiritual Landscape

Read: “Visions of Mañjuśrī on Mount Wutai,” in Religions of China in Practice, pp. 203-222.“The Story of Hui-yuan,” in Ballads and Stories from Tun-huang.

Tues., Nov. 10 Three Teachings and Cultural Integration

Read: John E. Wills, “Qiu Chuji, the Daoist,” in Mountain of Fame, pp. 181-200; “Zhu Xi on Spirit Beings,” tr. Gardner, in Religions of China in Practice, pp. 106-119.
Thurs., Nov. 12 Popular Culture, Ideal Worlds

Read: “Precepts for Social Life,” by Yüan Ts’ai, excerpts, in Family and Property in Sung China, tr. P. Ebrey; “The Canary Murders” and “The Lady who was a Beggar,” in Stories From a Ming Collection, ed. Cyril Birch.

View: Valerie Hansen, “The Beijing Qingming Scroll and its Significance for the Study of Chinese History,” On Reserve (ND 1049 C4525 H27 1996).
Tues., Nov. 17 Ming Taizu and the Farmer

Read: Sarah Schneewind, A Tale of Two Melons.
Thurs., Nov 19. No class.
Friday, Nov. 20: Paper due.
Thanksgiving Break
Tues., Dec. 1 The Ming Empire and the Changing World

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 136-78; Morris Rossabi, Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times, pp. 141-47, 153-61, 177-88; Geoff Wade, “The Zheng He Voyages: A Reassessment” (27 pages); Timothy Brook, Vermeer’s Hat, pp. 54-83.
Thurs., Dec. 3 Urban Culture at Ming’s End

Read: “The Pearl Sewn Shirt,” in Stories from a Ming Collection.
Tues., Dec. 8 Manchus and Modern Empire: The Ch’ing (Qing)

Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 179-201; Jonathan Spence, Emperor of China, pp. 7-89.
Thurs., Dec. 10 State, Society, and the Scholar-Officials

Read: Chang Ying, “Remarks on Real Estate,” in H. J. Beattie, Land and Lineage in China, Appendix III (pp. 140-151); Huang Liu-hung, A Complete Book concerning Happiness and Benevolence: A Manual for Local Magistrate in Seventeenth-Century China, excerpts.
Tues., Dec. 15 The K’ang-hsi Emperor (Kangxi) and the Rest of the World

Read: Spence, Emperor of China, “Valedictory” (pp. 143-151).
Mon., Dec. 21: Final Essay Due (No extensions)

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