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George Qiao (Section 01)
(Offered as HIST 171 [AS/TC/TE/P] and ASLC 171)
This introductory course provides a broad overview of China’s long history and major cultural traditions from its very beginnings to the eve of modernity. No familiarity with China or previous experience in the study of history is assumed or required. Over the course of the semester, we will investigate long-term economic, social, and cultural transformations in Chinese history. We will examine a broad array of issues, such as the role of geography in shaping history, the glorified antiquity in traditional Chinese political thought, the rise and fall of dynastic empires, China’s troubled relationship with the Inner Asian steppe and nomadic societies, cycles of peasant rebellions and civil wars, emergence of major philosophical schools and the canonization of Confucian thought, establishment of the civil examination system and a bureaucratic state, the formation of a literati elite and its culture, rise of Buddhism and Daoism, evolution of gender, family, and kinship structures, and China’s engagement with the outside world through trade and diplomacy. In this course, students will engage a wide range of primary sources—ancient classics, poems, films, paintings, novels, and memoirs—and learn to develop skills in reading these sources in their historical contexts. At several points in the semester, we will also look at how this history has been used and recycled in contemporary politics and popular culture and reflect upon the continuing legacies of this history for China and the world today. Classes will entail lectures combined with close readings and discussions that engage primary texts, interpretive essays, and film. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Qiao.
How to handle overenrollment:
Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions.