College of Arts and Sciences | Great Wall of China
E103 | 17189 | Atwood

COLL-E103 17189 Great Wall of China (Christopher Atwood) (A & H) (3
2:30PM - 3:20PM MW
See Schedule of Classes for discussion section times

Why was the Great Wall of China built? What made the two peoples of
China and Mongolia so hostile that a vast wall had to be built to
separate them? Is this wall a symbol of China’s might and glory, or
a symbol of tyranny like the Berlin wall? Did the wall actually keep
out the “barbarians”? Can it really be seen from the moon?

For almost 2,000 years how to handle the nomads of Mongolia was the
most important foreign policy question for China’s rulers. At
several different times and several different places from the third
century BC to the twentieth century AD, they used walls to defend
themselves from the nomads. The wall thus came to symbolize the
social, economic, military, political, and cultural clash between
China and Mongolia. Across this frontier, nomads and Chinese fought,
but also traded, exchanged diplomatic missions, and made peace.

In understanding this conflict, students will explore fundamental
issues of international relations: is conflict between different
societies and cultures inevitable? Does greed always cause war or
can economic interests be harnessed to make peace profitable? How
much does domestic politics and ideology tie the hands of policy-
makers confronting foreign threats? Can smaller powers make peace
with larger neighbors without losing their independence and identity?