1Amherst College Fall 2010
History 15/ALC 24f T/Th 2:00-3:20
CHINESE CIVILIZATION TO 1700
Professor Jerry Dennerline Office hours: Tues/Thurs. 3:30-4:00
Office: Chapin 12 Wed. 1:00-3:00
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 542-2486 And by appointment
The following books are available for purchase at Amherst Books:
China: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, by Patricia B. Ebrey 0618133879
A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in Ming China, by Sarah Schneewind
Confucius: The Analects, tr. D. C. Lau 0872208249
Mencius, tr. D. C. Lau 014044346
Hsün Tzu: Basic Writings, tr. Burton Watson 0231106890
Stories from a Ming Collection, Cyril Birch 0802150314
Emperor of China: A Portrait of Kang Hsi, Jonathan D. Spence 067972074X
Copies of these books and other readings are on reserve at Frost Library or on line for the course. 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. Regular attendance and completion of all writing assignments is required; repeated absence will lower the grade; and plagiarism or other serious violation of the honor code will result in failure of the course.. Repeated unexcused absence will lower the grade. Grades are based on successful completion of the following assignments:
Ten brief responses of 250-300 words (10%), 5 before and 5 after October 25, in preparation for classes. Three 4-5 page papers (60%) on assigned topics, due Sept 27, Oct 25, and Nov 15. One 7-8 page term paper (30%) on a topic designed by the student in consultation with the instructor, due Dec 20.
Tues, Sept 7 Introduction: Geography, Language, and History
Some Chinese Words
Book of Changes, the hexagrams.
Course Web Site:
Thurs, Sept 9 Western Zhou: History and Sources
Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 1-22; J. Dennerline, Mandate of Heaven Lost: the Spring and Autumn World, pp 1-4; 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.
Response: Considering the sources of evidence that are available for Western Zhou history, compose a question that you would like them to answer. Why this question, and how might you imagine answering it?
Tues., Sept. 14 Eastern Zhou, Confucius and the Analects
Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 28-40; J. Dennerline, Mandate of Heaven Lost: the Spring and Autumn World, pp 4-15.
Confucius: The Analects, tr. D.C. Lau, early selections, 479-436 B.C.E.:
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;
Response: Choose three concepts that appear key to understanding early Confucian learning. Do these three concepts seem complementary or contradictory to you? Imagine a question you might raise with the sage as a result of this exercise.
Wed, Sept 15
View: “Confucius” (2010). Film streamed on line for this course. Two copies on reserve at Frost Library: PN1997 .K66494.
Thurs., Sept. 16 Confucius: Mentor and Patron
Read: D.C. Lau, “The Disciples as they Appear in the Analects,” in The Analects, Appendix II.
Response: Choose one of the following: 1) Prioritize a list of points for an argument concerning the film’s treatment of Confucius and his disciples. 2) Choose two disciples introduced by D.C. Lau and reflect on how considering them together, rather than separately, affects what you learn.
Tues, Sept 21 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.
Response: Everyone agrees there is a Way, or a path, that can lead to peace and personal fulfillment, but these three schools disagree on what determines it, how you can find it out, and how to apply it. Choose one argument and show how you might use it against the others.
Thurs, Sept 23 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.
Response: As humans are we inclined to do either good or evil? What are the implications of your answer? Staying within the parameters of ancient Chinese culture, draw on the texts for a short list of points in support of one position and come prepared to argue it.
Mon, Sept. 27: Paper Due.
Tues, Sept 28 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.
Response: Draw on the text for a short list of points and show why you think they could or could not be applied to contemporary issues of statecraft (domestic or international).
Thurs, Sept 30 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.
Response: Xunzi was a realist and a rationalist, but in terms that belong to ancient Chinese culture. Draw on the text for a short list of points and show why you think his ideas about reason and Heaven do or do not represent an improvement on the thinking of the earlier thinkers.
Tues, Oct 5 Ritual, Law, and Empire
Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 41-62; 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.
Response: “Ritual” is a word you might be likely to associate with religious practice or performance. Why does Turner want you to think of it as “old law?” Identify three points in Xunzi’s argument about “ritual principles” (the general principles on which Chinese rites were based), that you might use for an answer to this question.
Thurs, Oct 7 Xunzi and Han Feizi on Law
Read: Hsün Tzu, “Regulations of a King;” pp. 33-56 ; Han Fei Tzu, selections.
Response: Han Fei Tzu rejected the Confucian world view, including Xunzi’s version, in its entirety. Here you can compare the two on the subject of the “rule of law.” Neither man survived the Qin conquest of the world. If you were their contemporary and had to choose between the two, which side would you choose? Why?
Tues, Oct 12 Fall Break: No Class
Thurs, Oct 14 Empire: Qin and Han
Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 41-62; “Biography of Lü Buwei,” in Shiji, tr by Jesse Saba Kircher (pdf); “Biography of Jing Ke,” from Shiji, tr by Derk Bodde; Jia Yi, “The Faults of Qin,” from Shiji,
View: “The Emperor and the Assassin,” film by Chen Kaige (1999), Streamed on line for this course. One copy on reserve, PN1997 .E4447 VideoDVD)
Response: What do you think Chen Kaige himself thinks about the creation of the first empire and why do you think that? Make a list of clues and compare what’s in the ancient texts for discussion.
Tues, Oct 19 Han Spirituality: the Historian and the Poet
Read: Sima Qian, 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.”
Response: Sima Qian’s reading of Qu Yuan’s and Jia Yi’s poetry focuses on Confucian and Daoist themes; modern scholars like Hawkes tend to focus on the southern shamanic influences. With reference to the texts and in outline form, begin to explain which reading you prefer and why?
Thurs, Oct 21 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.
Response: Sima Qian’s narrative of relations between Han and the Xiongnu focuses on meaningful speeches, conversations, and letters as well as personal observation; the modern anthropologist Barfield focuses on social structures. Which approach do you prefer and why?
Mon, Oct 25: Paper Due
Tues, Oct 26 Buddhism in the Spiritual Landscape
Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 63-112; “Hui-yüan,” in Sources of Chinese Tradition, ed. W.T. deBary; Arthur F. Wright, “Biography of the Nun An-ling-shou,” in Studies in Chinese Buddhism (Yale 1990), pp. 69-72; “Han Yü’s Counterattack on Buddhism and Taoism,” in Sources of Chinese Tradition, pp. 426-37.
Response: This and subsequent prompts TBA.
Thurs, Oct 28 Buddhism in the Spiritual Landscape
Read: “The Earliest Tales of the Bodhisattva Guanshiyin,” tr. Campany, in Religions of China in Practice, Donald S. Lopez, Jr., ed., pp. 82-95; “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, tr. A. Waley.
Tues, Nov 2 Contending Empires, Commerce, and Neo-Confucian Response
Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 113-35; “The Great Learning” and “The Doctrine of the Mean,” “Zhu Xi on Spirit Beings,” tr. Gardner, in Religions of China in Practice, pp. 106-119.
View: Valerie Hansen, “The Beijing Qingming Scroll and its Significance for the Study of Chinese History,” On Reserve (ND 1049 C4525 H27 1996).
Thurs, Nov 4 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.
Tues, Nov 9 Ming Taizu and the Farmer
Read: Ebrey, China, pp. 136-78; Sarah Schneewind, A Tale of Two Melons.
Thurs, Nov 11 Ming Taizu and the Farmer
Read: Schneewind, A Tale of Two Melons.
Mon, Nov 15: Paper Due
Tues, Nov 16 The Ming Empire and the Changing World
Read: Edward Dreyer. Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1433, pp 1-9, 187-93, Appendix I-III. I. Ming Shi biography of Zheng He (1739); II. Liujiagang Inscription of 1431 – both inscriptions are basically to Tianhou; III. Changle Inscription of 1431
Thurs, Nov 18 Urban Culture at Ming’s End
Read: “The Pearl Sewn Shirt,” in Stories from a Ming Collection.
Tues, Nov 30 Manchus and Modern Empire: The Ch’ing (Qing)
Read: William Rowe, China’s Last Empire: The Great Qing, 1-30 (on reserve, Frost Library); Jonathan Spence, Emperor of China, pp. xi-xxvi, 7-59.
Thurs, Dec 2 Kangxi: the Man and the Ideal
Read: Rowe, China’s Last Empire, 31-62; Spence, Emperor of China, pp. 61-139.
Tues, Dec 7 State, Society, and the Scholar-Officials
Read: Huang Liu-hung, A Complete Book concerning Happiness and Benevolence: A Manual for Local Magistrate in Seventeenth-Century China, excerpts.
Thurs, Dec 9 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)
Tues, Dec 14 Reflections: Chinese Civilization Past and Present
Read: Spence, Emperor of China, pp. 142-175.
Mon, Dec 20: Term Paper Due