Early and Middle Period China

History 13A

Fall 2005
110 Barrows
Day & Time: 
TuTh 3:30-5

This course offers an introduction to Chinese history from the Bronze Age to the destruction of the Song Dynasty by the Mongols. It is designed for lower-division undergraduates who have no background in Chinese history. The lectures will not attempt to present a coherent account of political and military history--that will be left to the textbook--or indeed of any aspect of Chinese history during this period: there simply is too much ground to be covered. Instead, they will focus on subjects of importance to a broad understanding of Chinese civilization down to the great turning point of the 13th century, each in its appropriate chronological place. These include the Chinese language; the question of when ";the Chinese"; can be said to have come into existence; key works of early philosophy; the creation and evolution of the unified bureaucratic empire; law; lyric poetry; and the great Song dynasty masterpieces of Chinese landscape painting. At certain points, explicit comparisons will be made with European analogues of the Chinese materials under consideration. Special attention will also be paid to introducing students through practical exercises to the techniques used by historians to interpret documents and artifacts. The themes introduced in the lectures will be pursued more intensively in weekly two-hour section meetings. Special readings are assigned for discussion in sections. These are almost always documents from the period under study, ranging from philosophy to fiction, which enable students to engage more deeply with the subjects touched on in the lectures.


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