01:165:215 Introduction to Chinese Civilization

This course surveys the history of China from antiquity to the beginning of the twentieth century. Students learn how to analyze historical records, philosophical works, fictional narratives, and visual images. In examining a wide range of materials, students encounter individuals, institutions, events, and ideas that helped shape Chinese history. Students seek to understand how Chinese people from all walks of life experienced the world around them and created a unique culture for themselves. Readings are all in English. No knowledge of East Asian languages and cultures is required. During the semester, each student has to participate in the project, “Illustrated History of China,” and deliver a presentation. This course is certified for AHp (Arts and Literatures) and HST (Historical Analysis).

Grading: Attendance and participation 10%, Project and presentation 25%, Take home midterm exam 25 %, Final paper 40%

Please do not miss any lecture during the semester. While in class, every student should raise questions and participate in classroom discussions.
During the semester, each student has to complete a project entitled “Illustrated History of China.” The goal of this project is to learn how to combine visual and textual sources to understand Chinese history. The detailed steps are as follows:

  • Each section has three or four presenters.
  • The presenters work independently, creating a presentation related to the week’s lecture. The title of the presentation could be “Buddhist Influence on Chinese Paintings in the Tang Dynasty” or “Fashion and Women’s Clothing in Ming Dynasty China.”
  • Each presenter should use relevant visual sources (paintings, statues, films, etc.) to develop a coherent presentation. The presentation runs for 20 minutes followed by questions from the TA and other students.
  • The student presentations will be on Mondays.

Questions in the midterm exam are all based on the lectures and the weekly reading materials. The exam consists of three parts: 1) Single-choice questions; 2) Multiple-choice questions; 3) Essay questions.

Each student should write a well-crafted and clearly argued final research paper based on your group project. In the paper, you should engage secondary sources (monographs and scholarly articles) if you think they are helpful to your analysis. The paper should contain footnotes and a bibliography.

For citations, you may use CMS, MLA, or APA, as long as the citation practice is consistent throughout the paper. Quick guides for all three styles can be found under the “Research and Citation” tab at the Purdue Writing Lab website: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html

Course Material: Harold M. Tanner, China: A History (Volume 1), from Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire 10,000 BEC–1799CE, Hackett, 2010.