Reading Journal on Early China

During much of the term, you'll be writing journal entries on readings that you do outside of the online course text.  These outside readings focus on the Classical era, and on much earlier Shang China.  The schedule of journal readings is generally designed to coordinate with the scope of the course lectures.


- Select one item from each of the five sets of readings (the first "set" includes only one item; all the others have choices.
- All items are available on Oncourse >>Resources >> Journal Readings
- For each article or book chapter, write an entry to be submitted via Oncourse, in line with the Journal Schedule below.

  Every entry should include three sections:

    1) "Reading Notes":  a single-spaced informal compilation of notes taken as you read -- about one single-spaced page of notes for every 20 pages read (more if you wish).  At the top of your Notes section, give the following bibliographic information about the item you are reading: 
    Title of the article or chapter
    Location (book or periodical title)
    Page numbers 
Your reading notes should be understandable and must include page references, but they don't have to be grammatical or in any particular form. You may insert any type of comments you wish. Your reading notes are a record of your reading care and I will assess them on that basis. If they are well done, you should be able to compile the remainder of your entry entirely on the basis of your notes, without any need to return to the article or chapter.
    2) "Precis":  a 2-3 double-spaced page summary of the article or chapter, in your own words, bringing together the main ideas and expressing the overall argument. Longer articles and more complex ones will require more space but do not exceed three full pages. NOTE: A precis is not a summary -- you should not narrate in brief the article's content -- the focus is on re-presenting the main arguments. What was the author's main agenda -- what major claims did it involve, and how did the author deploy direct evidence to support those claims -- how did the logic of argument demonstrate the validity of these claims?
    3) "Response":  a separate single page with indicating your assessment of the success of the article: Did the author's arguments successfully bear out his or her claims? Was the evidence adequate to illustrate the basis for claims; was the logic clear and convincing; how effectively did the article educate/persuade you?

To help clarify the form of a journal entry, here is a Sample Entry for an item not listed this year.

Journal entries should be submitted via Oncourse on the following schedule:

#1   Friday, September 7
#2   Wednesday, September 19
#3   Wednesday, September 26
#4   Wednesday, October 3
#5   Friday, October 19

Journals will principally be graded on the basis of the record of careful reading reflected in your notes, accuracy of your summations, and the appropriateness and insight of your comments.  However, for the precis and response sections of your entries, your writing style should also be clear and accurate in form, and entries that fall short in these aspects will earn lower grades.  Consult the Journal Writing Guide on this web site (not all sections will be relevant for this assignment).


Be aware that some of these readings employ the "Wade-Giles" system for transcribing Chinese.  Items marked * use the this older and much clumsier system.  In many cases, names and terms with which you're familiar may at first appear unfamiliar (for example, the names of the major states of the early Classical era - Jin, Qi, Chu, and Qin - will appear as Chin, Ch'i, Ch'u, and Ch'in).  You will need to be able to handle this unfortunate situation, so print out and use the Wade-Giles Guide on this website.

1. Cho-yun Hsu, "The Transition of Ancient Chinese Society" [originally 1962], in C.S. Chang ed., The Making of China, 62-71.

This is the only selection that is taken from a textbook - the original footnotes have been stripped away.  Although the author, Hsu, made his central argument in the 1960s, it continued to be influential, and is basic to G380's approach to Classical China.  Hsu taught for many years at Pittsburgh, where he was in the Sociology and History departments - you should be able to detect this combination of approaches in his work. 

*2a. Cho-yun Hsu, Ancient China in Transition [1965], Chapter 4: "The New State," 78-106 (notes, 202-5).

A more detailed study by Hsu, part of an influential book that grew out of his dissertation at the University of Chicago. NOTE: Hsu refers to the Spring-Autumn Period by its Chinese name (in Wade-Giles): "the Ch'un Ch'iu Period"; the Warring States Period becomes "the Chan Kuo Period."

2b.  Mark Lewis, Sanctioned Violence in Early China [1990], Chapter 1: "The Warrior Aristocracy," 15-52 (notes 251-268).

This is part of a book written, in part, to offer a model of Classical Chinese society different from the one sketched in Cho-yun Hsu's works (3 and 4 above). Both Lewis and Hsu trained at Chicago under the same teacher, but their approaches are in many ways a study in contrasts. 

*3a. Frank Kierman, "Phases and Modes of Combat in Early China," in Frank A. Kierman, Jr. and John K. Fairbank, ed., Chinese Ways in Warfare [1974], 27-66.

Military history is a much understudied field in China, and the volume that Kierman and Fairbank put together about thirty-five years ago was the first attempt to expand this area of scholarship.  Kierman's very successful contribution is the work for which he is best known. This is a longer article with a number of different parts - be sure to give its various aspects balanced attention. 

3b. Nicola Di Cosmo, Ancient China and Its Enemies [2002], Chapter 4: "Walls and Horses: The Beginnings of Historical Contacts Between the Horse-Riding Nomads and Chinese States," 127-158. 

Di Cosmo is one of the few scholars working on Central and Northern Asia during the ancient period. He was trained at Indiana, and now teaches at Princeton.

4a. Lisa Raphals, "A Woman Who Understood the Rites," in Bryan Van Norden, ed., Confucius and the Analects [2002], 275-302.

There is very little information on the role of women in Classical China. Raphals' study of one example, which relies heavily on a series of tales collected in a section of the Guoyu ("Discourses of the States"), stands almost alone among attempts to analyze the status of patrician women during the pre-Qin period. Raphals teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

*4b. Donald Munro, The Concept of Man in Ancient China [1969], Chapter 1: "Human Nature and Natural Equality," 1-22.

This is the first chapter of an influential book that aimed to find common ground among the competing philosophical schools of early China, with special emphasis on apparently "opposing" Confucian and Daoist schools. Munro's approach to early philosophical texts was an expression of a new direction in scholarship, much stimulated by the work of Cho-yun Hsu. Munro taught at the University of Michigan. 

*5a. K.C. Chang, Early Chinese Civilization:  Anthropological Perspectives [1976], Chapter 9: "Changing Relationships of Man and Animal in Shang and Chou Myths and Art, 174-196.

Until his death a few years ago, Chang was the most prominent archaeologist of China living in the West (he taught at Harvard for many years), and probably the most imaginative Chinese archaeologist anywhere.  He developed a variety of exciting theories, many of which are touched on in the G380 online texts, including some of those in this essay.

*5b. David Keightley, "The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture," in the journal History of Religions 17 (1978), 211-225.

Keightley has produced a long series of published and unpublished papers on ideological aspects of Shang religion. This is the earliest. Keightley has refined many of the ideas found in this comprehensive overview, but its general contours still reflect his overall approach, which is perhaps most clearly visible in this initial articulation.