Wednesday, August 22

There will be a Homework assignment due Friday. Link to it through the Homework Assignments Index.

Reading assignment:  Han Qi Visits the State of Zheng (if you did not read it for Monday's class, also read the General Introduction)

The reading that you should prepare specifically for Wednesday's class discussion is "Han Qi Visits the State of Zheng."  This narrative will be your first "window" on ancient China -- through it, you'll see a slice of life in China's classical age, in its complexity and strangeness to us.  The text of this tale (printed in boldface) is pretty brief.  To help you understand what you see in it, I have inserted a variety of useful (or annoying) explanatory comments, designed to help you construct a picture of the society surrounding the incidents you'll witness, and to introduce certain basic issues and themes that will be important in G380. 

In class, we'll discuss the narrative of Han Qi, focusing on the study questions that appear at the close of the text.  You should think about these questions before class, in particular, numbers 2, 4, 5, and 6. 

This is an important general rule for G380:  part of every reading assignment is to reflect on the study questions before coming to class.


Almost all the information in this course is derived from texts that were preserved, often in highly edited form, from the ancient period. These texts are the "canon" of ancient China, as famous and authoritative in traditional China as Western books such as the Iliad and Odyssey, the works of Plato and Aristotle, or the Bible were in traditional European culture. Today's reading translates a small part of one of those texts (the Zuo zhuan), and your homework assignment comes from another (the Book of Poetry). You will find descriptions of the most famous of these classical texts in the supplement: Textual Sources for Ancient Chinese History. You should consult this collection of very brief descriptions of major texts as necessary. For this assignment and the homework, you will find short descriptions of the Zuo zhuan (number 1) and the Book of Poetry (6) in that supplement. (It will also point you to where you can find full English translations in the Library.)