Fall 2011 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Farmer, J Michael
Discipline and Number
HIST 3312 Section 501
TR Time 5:30 PM - 6:45 PM
Course Title
Early China

Description of Course:

Chinese civilization, like its Greek and Roman counterparts in the Mediterranean, is both ancient and far-reaching, influencing the political, economic, social, intellectual, religious, and cultural systems of a hemisphere for over five thousand years. Traditional Chinese civilization coalesced around the turn of the Common Era, reached its zenith during the mid-eighth century, and then began its descent into the early modern world. This course will examine the history of Chinese civilization from its neolithic beginnings to the end of the third century of the common era, focusing on political, social, economic, intellectual, and cultural developments of China's axial age (the late Zhou dynasty) and first great empire (the Han dynasty).

This course is designed around an extensive collection of primary documents, both written (in English translation) and visual, with the pedagogical objective of teaching students how to "do history" from primary sources. Significant amounts of class time will be devoted to discussions of these source materials. Your thoughtful comments, based on careful readings of the primary and secondary materials, will be the driving force of this class. Students will write and submit regular analyses of the primary documents, and these primary source analyses will serve as the foundation for a research paper. In summary, this course aims to present not only the "facts" of the history of early China, but to expose students to the methods of historical inquiry.

Required Texts:

Required Textbooks and Materials:

Ebrey, Patricia. Cambridge Illustrated History of China. 2nd ed, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN: 0521124336.

Chang, K.C. Art, Myth, and Ritual: The Path to Political Authority in Ancient China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983. ISBN: 067404083.

Ivanhoe, Philip J. and Bryan W. Van Norden. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2006. ISBN: 0872207803.

Watson, Burton, trans. The Tso Chuan: Selections from China’s Oldest Narrative History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989. ISBN: 0231067151.

Lewis, Mark Edward. Writing and Authority in Early China. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999. ISBN: 0791441148.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:


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