Fall 2023

History of Dynastic China

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-171  |  History, as HIST-171


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: null

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.

ASLC 171 - LEC

Section 01
M 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM FAYE 117
W 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM FAYE 117

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The Cambridge illustrated history of China Cambridge, United Kingdom : Cambridge University Press, 2023. Ebrey, Patricia Buckley Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024