History 141: History of East Asia in the Pre-modern Era (Fall 2005)

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History 141: History of East Asia in the Pre-modern Era

(Fall 2005)


Lecture:                                                                                    Philip Brown

TR 9:30-10:48                                                                          Dulles 146, 292-0904

MQ 264                                                                                   brown.113@osu.edu

                                                                                                 Office hours: T, W 1:00-2:00 or by


Section Meetings:

                                                                                                 Evan Dicken, dicken.9@osu.edu

                                                                                                 Dulles 322

                                                                                                 Office hours: M 1:30-2:30, TH 2:30-

                                                                                                                        3:30 or by Appointment


                                                                                                 Craig Nelson, Nelson.574@osu.edu

                                                                                                 Dulles 322

                                                                                                 Office hours: T, F 1:30-2:30 or by


Sections meet MW


Course Description


            History 141 is an introduction to the societies and cultures of pre modern China, Korea, and Japan, the countries that make up the geographical and cultural unit of East Asia. Of the great civilizations of the world, East Asia grew up in perhaps the greatest isolation from the West; and one goal of this course is to point up what is distinctive about "East Asian civilization." A second goal is the study of the relationship between the evolution of China, Korea, and Japan as distinct cultures themselves. Since China has had the longer history and the greater influence on the development of pre modern East Asia, China is the focus of the first, longer, portion of the course (sessions 2-25). The second (26-31) and third (32-46) portions will examine how Korea and Japan, despite considerable linguistic, intellectual, and political borrowing from China, diverged from the Chinese pattern of development to form cultures with their own very distinctive artistic and literary traditions, political organizations, and social and economic structures. The course will end with  sessions (47-49) comparing China, Korea, and Japan in their encounters with the West and their situations at the end of the pre-modern era, in the seventeenth century. 


As an entry level overview of pre-modern East Asian culture and society, History 141 emphasizes the major themes and dominant characteristics in the development of the three countries. It does not trace their histories in any detail, but is designed, rather, to provide a broad chronological overview of East Asian history, with special attention to the interrelationships of intellectual, cultural, political, social, artistic, technological, and economic change. The lectures (twice a week) are devoted to the major themes and dominant characteristics of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese political evolution, thought and religious belief, art and literature, and society. Twice-weekly meetings of the discussion sections focus on the analysis of primary sources – philosophical and religious texts, government documents, poetry, drama, and fiction  from China, Korea, and Japan.


History 141 and its continuation, 142, “History of East Asia in the Modern Era,” fulfill the GEC Arts and Humanities requirements for the historical survey and “international issues course: non-western or global.”


Course Objectives


This course is designed to introduce students to a civilization very different from that of the West—to make them familiar with distinctive East Asian approaches to human relationships to cosmic and supernatural forces; to the organization of human society and appropriate social relationships within the human realm; to ideals and institutions of governance and political order; and to patterns of artistic and literary expression.  By encouraging students to consider alternative modes of thinking and organizing society, government, and culture, the course should both make them aware of what is distinctive about their own cultural assumptions and encourage them to respect different interpretations of human values.


A second goal of the course is to train students in a) close reading of primary sources, the most important documents of historical research; and b) writing of well-organized and clearly written analyses of these primary sources, as well as selected secondary readings.


Course Requirements


All students must be officially enrolled in the course by the end of the second full week of the quarter.  No requests to add the course will be approved by the department chair after that time.  Enrolling officially and on time is solely the responsibility of each student.


Students are responsible for all materials, lectures, discussions, and readings.  All work handed in for the course must be the work of the student alone. All university rules regarding cheating and plagiarism are applicable; it is the student’s responsibility to be familiar with them (see 3335-23-04, “Prohibited conduct,” for the rules on Academic Misconduct at http://studentaffairs.osu.edu/resource_csc.asp).  If you have any questions about procedures for documentation and citation, contact a member of the instructional staff for the course.


This syllabus and any study aids supplied to the students in this course are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.  Any further instructions regarding course requirements given verbally by the instructor are as binding as written instructions.


            More specifically, the course requirements and grade weights are:


1) Regular lecture-class attendance and participation in weekly discussion sections. The lectures provide a narrative overview of pre-modern East Asian history and emphasize the major themes of that history.  The discussion sections focus on analysis of primary source readings; as translations of writings by Chinese, Korean, and Japanese of the pre-modern era, the primary sources are the raw materials from which the narrative overview is constructed.  As testimonials by the real players in pre-modern East Asian history, they give us a fuller and more vivid picture of the impact of historical ideas and events on the lives and actions of ordinary people.


 In order to participate in the section discussions, you should have read all the assignments listed under each week (under “Section Reading”) in the Course Outline before your section meeting.  Read the assignments first, then read the discussion questions for the relevant section (to be distributed a week ahead of time), and then re-read the section assignment with the discussion questions in mind. 


The books available for purchase are listed under Required Reading.  Attendance will be taken in discussion sections; two excused absences are allowed—any absences beyond that will count against your final grade (that is, on a scale of 100, 10 points will be deducted per missed section meeting).  20% 


2) One map assignment, due on (due Monday, 9/26 discussion session; see end of syllabus).  To familiarize students with the geography of East Asia (and certain other areas important to East Asian history), students will be asked to fill in features on an outline map of East Asia.  5%


3) One short paper (3-4 pages or 750-1000 words), due (session ), in section.  Instructions will be handed out in class for this paper. Remember to keep a copy of your paper.  20% 


4) One primary source analysis. This is a paper of 2-3 pages (approximately 500 to 750 words) that analyzes one of the primary source readings.  You may write an analysis of either “The Men of the Marshes” (due Wednesday, 10/19); or the cluster of readings on Korean history assigned for session 28 (#13, “Ch’oe Sŭngno: On Current Affairs”; #14, “Propagation of Confucian Values”; and #15, “Wealth and Commerce”; due on Wednesday, 10/26); or “Yugao” (a chapter from the Tale of Genji; due Wednesday, 11/9).  Instructions will be handed out in class for this analysis. Remember to keep a copy of your paper.    15%


               5) A midterm test, given in the lecture class on (session ).  The midterm test, covering all the material (lectures and readings) on China, will consist of a series of brief identifications and one or two essay questions.  All terms and names to be identified on the midterm will be drawn from the class lecture outlines.  15%


            6) A final examination, given on   The final examination is divided into two parts. The first part will test the material covered in the course since the midterm—that is, all the material (lectures and readings) on Korea and Japan. This portion of the examination will consist, like the midterm, of a series of identifications (all terms and names to be identified will be drawn from the class lecture outlines) and one or two short essays. The second part is a long synthetic essay on East Asian history.  This last essay question will be handed out two weeks before the examination.  25%


All essay-type written work is graded according to three major criteria: a) the quality of the analysis or argument; b) the accuracy, relevance, and quantity of evidence provided to support the analysis or argument; and c) the quality and effectiveness of the organization and writing. 


No late assignments will be accepted without the prior agreement of the section instructor and/or the submission of a valid written explanation.  Course overloads and work duties are not acceptable excuses for late assignments, missed exams, or for failure to participate fully in other class activities.  Late papers will be marked down one-third letter grade for each day they are late, weekends included.


Any student who feels that he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss his or her specific needs.  Please contact the Office for Disability Services at 614-292-3307 in Room 150 Pomerene Hall to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.


Required Reading


The following texts are available for purchase:


Ebrey, Palais and Walthall, East Asia: A Cultural, Social and Political History (First Edition, 2006).

On-line readings for History 141 (on class’s Carmen course site, e-reserves, and hard copies in the Reserve Reading Room of the Main Library).


The textbook can be purchased at the University Bookstore or SBX. 


The syllabus, lecture outlines, and discussion section questions will all be available on the course’s Carmen web site.  You can access the site by logging in at www.carmen.osu.edu with your OSU username and password.



Course Outline


Week I___________________________________________________



Ebrey, et al.  The Prehistory of East Asia (pp. 1-9); 1. China in the Bronze Age: The Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties (ca. 1500-771 B.C.E.)



9/22 (R):            1. Introduction to the Study of East Asia



9/21 (W):          Section meeting 1: Introduction



Week II_________________________________________________________________


Part One: China


Ebrey, et al.  2. Philosophers and Warring States During the Eastern Zhou Period (770-256 B.C.E.)



9/27 (T):           2. Early China: History and Myths

9/29 (R):           3. China in the Bronze Age



9/26 (M)          Meeting 2: “The Canon of Yao," “The Canon of Shun,” and "The Numerous Regions" from the Book of History (#1)

9/28 (W)           Meeting 3: From the Analects (#2).

                               From the Mencius (#3).


Map exercise due Monday, 9/26 (see end of syllabus).




Week III________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  3. The Founding of the Bureaucratic Empire:  Qin-Han China (256 BCE-200 CE), Connections



10/4 (T)            4. Confucius and Confucianism

10/6 (R)           5. Challenges to Confucianism: Daoism and Legalism



10/3 (M)           Meeting 4: From Zhuangzi (#4).

10/5 (W)           Meeting 5:  “Han Feizi and Legalism” (#5).

                                                                     “Li Si and Legalism in Practice” (#6)



Week IV________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  4.  Political Division in China and the Spread of Buddhism (200-580); 5. The Cosmopolitan Empires of Sui and Tang China (581-960);



10/11 (T)          6. The First Chinese Empires: Qin and Han

10/13 (R)          7. Buddhism in China



10/10 (M)         Meeting 6:  Excerpts from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (#7).

10/12 (W)         Meeting 7:  “The Provincial Examination and Re-examination” (#8).





Week V________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  8.  China Among Equals:  Song, Liao, Xia, and Jin; pp. 225-234; 12. China & Korea under Mongol Rule; 14.  The Ming Empire in China (1368-1600)



 10/18 (T)         8.  China’s Golden Age: The Tang Dynasty & The Song State and China’s Examination “Hell”


10/20 (R)         9.   The Mongol Invasion & Chinese Popular Culture in the Ming



10/17 (M)        Meeting 8: “Attractions of the Capital: Hangzhou in the Song” (#9);  “Society,” from Jacques     Gernet, Daily Life in China, pp. 59-112  (#10)

10/19 (W)        Meeting 9:  From “The Men of the Marshes” (#11).

                                                Short paper due Monday. 

                                                Primary source analysis option 1 due Wednesday.



Week VI________________________________________________________________

Part II:  Korea


Ebrey, et al.  pp. 111-115; 6. Early Korea:  Choson, Three Kingdoms, Silla, and Parhae; 9. The Koryo Dynasty (889-1259); 15.  Centralization in Early Chosŏn (1351-1598);



10/25 (T)         10.   The Chinese Model in Korea, Society, Culture, and Technology

10/27 (R)          11.  The Chosŏn Dynasty: The Model Confucian State?



10/24 (M)         Meeting 10: “Origins of Korean Culture,” (#12)

                                             “Ch’oe Sŭngno: On Current Affairs” #13)


10/26 (W)         Meeting 11: “Propagation of Confucian Values” (#14)

                                              “Wealth and Commerce” (#15)

                                          Primary source analysis option 2 due Wednesday.



Week VII________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  7. Early State and Society in Japan (to 794)



11/1 (T)             12. Early Japanese Myths and History; Japan and the Chinese Model

Part III:  Japan


11/3 (R)            13. NO CLASS



10/31 (M)         Meeting 12:  Discussion of Midterm exam results

11/2   (W)         Meeting 13:  “Invention of the Korean Alphabet” (#16)

                                              “Education and Scholarship” (#17)



Week VIII________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  10.  Heian Japan (794-ca. 1180)



11/8 (T)            14.  Heian Culture and “Women’s Writing”

11/10 (R)          15. Buddhism in Japan



11/7   (M)         Meeting 14:  “Early Shintō” (#18)

11/9   (W)         Meeting 15:  "Yugao" from the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (#19). Selections from the Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon (#20).


                                                Primary source analysis option 3 due.



Week IX________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  11.  Kamakura Japan (1180-1333); 13. Japan’s Middle Ages (1330-1600)



11/15 (T)         16. The Shoguns and Military Government

11/17 (R)        17. The Rise of the Samurai                              



11/14   (M)        Meeting 16: “Nichiren: The Sun and the Lotus” (#21)

11/16   (W)       Meeting 17:  “The Warrior’s Primer” (“Budoshoshinshu”) by Daisoji Yuzan (#22).



Week X________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  pp. 307-312; 16.  The Creation of the Manchu Empire; 17. Edo Japan (1603-1800)



11/22 (T)          18. Encounters with the West:  China, Korea, Japan, and East Asia at the dawn of European Imperialism   

11/24  (R)  Thanksgiving (no class)



11/21   (M)        Meeting 18:   From Ihara Saikaku, The Japanese Family Storehouse (#23)

11/23   (W)       No Class; individual consultations with Prof, TA during regularly scheduled class meeting times


Week XI________________________________________________________________


Ebrey, et al.  18.  Late Choson Korea (1598-1800)



11/29 (T)          19. Encounters with the West:  China, Korea, Japan, and East Asia at the dawn of European Imperialism (cont.)

12/1 (R)            20. Encounters with the West:  China, Korea, Japan, and East Asia at the dawn of European Imperialism (cont.)



11/28   (M)       Meeting 19:  "The Love Suicides at Sonezaki" by Chikamatsu Monzaemon   (#24).

11/30   (W)       Meeting 20: Review



Final:  Wednesday December 7, 9:30



Readings for History 141 (Winter 2005)


I. China


  1. “The Canon of Yao” and “The Numerous Regions,” from the Book of History, in William H. McNeill and Jean W. Sedlar, eds., Classical China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), pp. 106-119.


  1. “Confucius: The Analects,” from John M. Koller and Patricia Koller, A Sourcebook in Asian Philosophy (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991), pp. 409-421. 


  1. Selections from Mencius, translated by D.C. Lau (London: Penguin Books, 1970), pp. 49-59; and “Mencius,” from John M. Koller and Patricia Koller, A Sourcebook in Asian Philosophy (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991), pp. 477-481.


  1. “Selections from the Chuang Tzu,” from Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed., Sources of Chinese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), vol. 1, pp. 63-78.


  1. Selections from Han Feizi (Han Fei-tzu), from John M. Koller and Patricia Koller, A Sourcebook in Asian Philosophy (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991), pp. 468-475.


  1. “Li Ssu: Legalist Theories in Practice,” from Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed., Sources of Chinese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), vol. 1, pp. 136-141.


  1. Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1970),  pp. 25-28, 59-65, 71-74, 110-124.


  1. “The Provincial Examination and Re-examination,” from Ichisada Miyazaki, China’s Examination Hell (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), pp. 39-65.


  1. “The Attractions of the Capital: Hangzhou in the Song,” from Patricia Ebrey, ed., Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook (New York: The Free Press, 1993, Second Edition), pp. 178-185.


  1. “Society,” from Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962), pp. 59-112.


  1.  From “The Men of the Marshes,” in Cyril Birch, ed., Anthology of Chinese Literature from early times to the fourteenth century (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1965), pp. 451-487.



II. Korea


  1. “Origins of Korean Culture,” from Peter H. Lee, ed., Sourcebook of Korean Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), vol. 1, pp. 3-9, 15-18.


  1.  “Ch’oe Sŭngno: On Current Affairs,” from Peter H. Lee, ed., Sourcebook of Korean Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), vol. 1, pp. 282-288.


  1. “Propagation of Confucian Values,” from Peter H. Lee, ed., Sourcebook of Korean Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), vol. 1, pp. 566-569, 571-574.


  1. “Wealth and Commerce,” from Peter H. Lee, ed., Sourcebook of Korean Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), vol. 1, pp. 586-591.


  1. “Invention of the Korean Alpabet,” from Peter H. Lee, ed., Sourcebook of Korean Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), vol. 1, pp. 516-520.


  1. “Education and Scholarship,” from Peter H. Lee, ed., Sourcebook of Korean Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), vol. 1, pp. 521-528.



III. Japan


  1. “Early Shintō,” from Ryusaku Tsunoda et al., eds., Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), vol. 1, pp. 21-33.


  1. “Yugao,” from the Tale of Genji, in Donald Keene, ed., Anthology of Japanese Literature (New York: Grove Press, 1955), pp. 106-136. 


  1. Selections from the Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon, trans. Ivan Morris (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1967), pp. 201-235.


  1. “Nichiren: The Sun and the Lotus,” from from Ryusaku Tsunoda et al., eds., Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), vol. 1, pp. 213-225.


  1. From “The Warrior’s Primer” by Daidoji Yuzan, in Budoshoshinshu, trans. William Scott Wilson (Santa Clarita, CA: Ohara Publications, Incorporated, 1984), pp. 19-36.


  1. Selections from Ihara Saikaku, The Japanese Family Storehouse or the Millionaires’ Gospel Modernised, trans. G.W. Sargent  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), pp. 13-32.


  1. Chikamatsu Monzaemon, “The Love Suicides at Sonezaki,” in Donald Keene, trans., Four Major Plays of Chikamatsu (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), pp. 39-56. 



Map Assignment due Monday, 9/26 discussion session. 


                Identify the following places and features on the attached map of East Asia.  Some of the features are contemporary sites, but many name important places and features of pre-modern East Asia.  Thus you may have to consult your textbook and other historical maps (see, for example, The Times Atlas of World History) in the Map Room of the Main Library in order to complete the assignment. 


                Under the places and features for China, alternate romanization(s) have been put in parentheses.  Under those for Japan, the modern names of certain historical sites are in parentheses.


The Great Wall

Luoyang (Loyang)       

Dunhuang (Tun-huang)

Yellow River (Huang He; Huang Ho) 

Urumqi (Urumchi)

Tibetan Plateau

Chengdu (Ch’eng-tu)

Gobi Desert

Guangzhou (Canton)

Manchurian Plain

Yangzi (Yangtze) River

Xian (Sian or Hsi-an)

Yellow Sea      

The Silk Road 

Chang’an (Ch’ang-an)


Beijing (Peking)

Nanjing (Nanking)

Huai River

Kaifeng (K’ai-feng)

Suzhou (Soochow)

Hangzhou (Hangchow)

Xinjiang (Sinkiang)







Yalu River




Han River







Kantō Plain

Izu Peninsula





Edo (Tōkyō)

Heian (Kyōto)





Sea of Japan




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