East Asian Languages and Cultures | Proseminar in Shang and Western Zhou Historical Texts
C561 | 26144 | Eno


Open to Graduate Students Only
3 credits

This class will be designed to teach students to read Shang period
oracle bone inscriptions and bronze inscriptions from the Western
Zhou, to interpret them in the context of our social and political
understandings of those eras, and to become aware of associated
issues of state development.  Coursework will be aimed at
strengthening preparation for research work in ancient Chinese texts
and social history, and as training in paleographic methodology.

The inscriptions of the Shang and Western Zhou are the earliest
voices we hear from China.  They speak to questions of religious
thought and practice, social and political structures, and
historical change.  Unlike received texts, they come to us in the
unfamiliar media of bone and bronze, written in archaic script.
They are unique documents, untransmitted, and lacking
contextualizing and commentarial apparatus - these factors make them
challenging to interpret.  However, they are also numerous and
highly formalized, and these features make it possible to begin to
explore them with relatively little preparation.

Regular class meetings will be divided between text reading and
discussion of relevant scholarship concerning historical, social,
archaeological, and philological issues, in both Chinese and
English. Six additional one-hour meetings will be scheduled to
devote exclusively to text practice, three early in the term on
oracle texts, three in the middle of the term as we transition to
bronze inscriptions.

Written requirements will include (1) quiz-like exercises for bone
and bronze script, (2) a number of written précis (to be circulated
to the class), of books, chapters, and articles, and (3) a research
paper, due at the end of the term, which will be introduced to the
class as an oral presentation in April.

Prerequisites include reading knowledge of Classical and Modern
Chinese, and permission of the instructor.