Fall 2016

Perspectives on Chinese History

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-276  |  History, as HIST-276


Jerry P. Dennerline (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 276 [AS] and ASLC 276 [C].) China--the modern nation--was born of revolution. Before the revolution there was China--the civilization--with its long and complex history. Modern historians, Western and Chinese alike, have tended to describe this history as “traditional,” leaving the modern condition to be defined by what happened in the West. In this course we will suspend this modern prejudice while asking a variety of questions on some specific topics. How did ancient laws and rituals come to define the relations between imperial states and local societies? How and to what degree did they continue to do this as societies changed? How did world religions like Buddhism and Christianity come to cohabit with Confucian ethics and ancestral rites? How did complex networks of trade, manufacturing, and credit coexist and interact with global economies and powerful military states? How did cohorts of classically educated, literary and artistic men help to integrate ethnically and linguistically diverse peoples into a culturally consistent foundation against which, and upon which, the modern Chinese nation could be built? How did ordinary working people and especially women participate or react? In each case we will discuss and develop our perspectives on how one thing led to another and then consider how modern views have tended to highlight or obscure the process. Sources include historical narratives and biographies, classical texts, philosophical and religious essays, family instructions, comparative historical analyses, fiction, and film.  Reading and discussion.  Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Dennerline.

If Overenrolled: History and ASLC majors first.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016