History | Early China
G380 | 27280 | Eno


Above class carries Culture Studies credit
A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only
Above class meets with EALC-E 505

Early China explores the social, political, and intellectual trends
of China’s first eras of greatness, with particular emphasis upon
the relationship in early China between concepts of the past and
perspectives of the present and future. The course spans a
millennium and a half, from China's Bronze Age (beginning about 1500
B.C.) to the emergence and stabilization of China's imperial state
in the first century B.C.  The course begins in the middle – we
first anchor ourselves in the culture of Classical China (722-221
B.C.), a romantic era of civil war, social change, and intellectual
ferment that was the cradle of the “Confucian” culture that
dominated China until the 20th century.  Once we have seen the world
through Classical eyes, and learned the stories of the past and
future that Classical people took to be true, we look back and
examine the pre-Classical past through archaeological sources they
never knew – writings inscribed on turtle shells used to communicate
with the spirits and ceremonial bronzes prepared to serve the dead –
and see the very different story these texts have to tell.  In the
final section of the course, we’ll see how the Classical period gave
way to a future none had anticipated, a transition that was probably
the most dramatic and sustained political and social revolution in
human history, and which ushered in new structures that would shape
the Chinese state for over two thousand years.

- Coursepack materials that will be available online will form the
core reading for the course, along with a selection of articles that
students will read and summarize in journals.  There will be a
midterm and a final exam, homework assignments, and several short
projects involving the interpretation of historical texts.