China: Traditions and Transformations
In China today we see a country in the midst of the most extraordinary economic transformation the world has
seen since the European Industrial Revolution. This development comes on top of far-reaching political, social, and
cultural revolutions that dramatically changed people's lives in the course of the 20 century. Yet all these
transformations have occurred and continue to occur against a deep historical background still much in evidence.
With study, we can see the ways in which the world's largest and oldest bureaucratic state has coped with long-
standing problems of economic and political management and how responses to these problems, even as they
appear "modern," bear the indelible imprint of China's own historical experience. This course seeks to define the
broad processes by which China, developing along lines very different from those of other cradles of human
ingenuity and creativity, has survived over three millennia to emerge in the early 21 century as a major power. We
will pay special attention to intellectual and religious trends, to material and political culture, to the tension between
local society and the center, and to economic change in past and present.
Peter K. Bol firstname.lastname@example.org
office hours: Wednesdays 2-4; 2 Divinity Avenue, room 221, tel. 495-8361
William C. Kirby email@example.com
office hours: Wednesdays 4-6; Fairbank Center, CGIS S128, tel. 495-5119
Joshua Hill, Head TF firstname.lastname@example.org
Course Structure and Credit
The course consists of two integral parts, lectures and online discussion sections. The lectures trace the
formation and transformation of institutional and cultural patterns in China from ancient times into the present. The
online discussion sections are designed to help you develop informed approaches to this civilization and its history
through close discussion of and supervised writing about important original literary, philosophical, political and
cultural sources in the Chinese tradition. Participation in online discussion sections is expected of all students.
Your final grade will be based on the following:
Section participation (inc. web-based material) 20%
Short papers (2 @ 15% each) 30% (due week 9 and in Reading Period)
Final examination 35%
The following books are required and have been ordered at the Coop. A limited number of copies have also
been placed on reserve at Grossman Library.
Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Kwang-Ching Liu, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China (Cambridge, 1999)
Wm. Theodore de Bary et al., eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, 2 edition, volume 1 (Columbia, 2000).
Note: The 1 edition of this text, first published in 1960, is a substantially different book. If you choose to buy
your books from a supplier other than the Coop, be sure to buy the 2 edition.
Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, 2 edition (Free Press, 1993)
Rob Gifford, China Road (Random House, 2007)
HSA-13 Course reader, available at the Coop
The main text for the course is Ebrey and Liu, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. This text is meant to
accompany the lectures and to provide essential chronological and other information; it is not by any means a
substitute for the lectures. Most of the other readings for the course are contained in de Bary, Sources of Chinese
Tradition. Additional required readings are provided in the course reader and online.
The course website includes section assignments, lecture videos, tutorials, pronunciation guides, a timeline,
maps, slide carousels, discussion forums, and other materials. Go to:
Note: Asterisked * readings are found in volume 1 of de Bary, Sources of Chinese Tradition (2 edition)
Week 1: Thinking about "China" and Chinese History
Sep 02 Introduction Traditions and Transformations
04 Lecture 1 Origin Stories
Week 2: Foundations of Civilization
Sep 07 No Class Labor Day
09 Lecture 2 Bronzes, Oracle Bones, and the Legitimation of Power in Antiquity
11 Discussion In Class Section
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 1
Section reading: David Keightley, "Early Civilization in China" (in course reader)
Website: "Neolithic Cultures and Bronzes"
Week 3: Competing Claims to the Way
Sep 14 Lecture 3 Confucius and Confucianism
16 Lecture 4 Competing Schools and Warring States
18 Lecture 5 Forging a Unified Empire: The Qin Dynasty
Lecture Reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 2
*Li Si: Legalist theories in practice (206-212)
Section reading: *Analects of Confucius: On "humaneness" 3:3, 4:1-2, 4:5-6, 5:7, 6:28, 12:1-3;
On "ritual" 3:3-4, 3:12, 3:18, 12:1; On "the noble person" 2:12, 2:14, 4:14, 4:16;
On Confucius 2:4, 2:15, 4:15, 7:15, 9:5, 9:10, 11:25; On government 13:3
*Mozi: Sections 9 and 16
*Laozi Daodejing: 1, 3, 9, 10, 11, 18-19, 22, 28, 48, 57, 80
*Zhuangzi: Chapters 2, 3
*Mencius: 1A:1, 1A:7, 2A:6, 3A:4, 3B:9, 6A:8, 6A:2, 6A:6
*Xunzi: Chapters 1, 19, 23
*Han Feizi: Chapters 49, 50
Website: "Ritual Sites"
Week 4: Imperial Government in the Qin and Han
Sep 21 Lecture 6 Making Empire Last: Western Han
23 Lecture 7 State and Society in Western and Eastern Han
25 Lecture 8 After Empire: Self-Realization in the Medieval World
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 3
*Jia Yi, "The Faults of Qin" (228), "The Primacy of the People" (290)
*Lu Jia, "The Natural Order and the Human Order" (285)
*Dong Zhongshu, "The Conduct of Heaven and Earth" (295), "Comprehending the
State as the Body" (297), "Interpreting Omens" (305)
*Five Phases of Change (346)
*Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian (368),
"The Sacred Duty of the Historian" (370)
Section reading: "Selections from Huan Kuan, Discourses on Salt and Iron" (in course reader)
Website: "The Terracotta Army of the First Qin Emperor"
Week 5: Buddhism and Daoism during the Period of Division
Sep 28 Lecture 9 The Literary Enterprise (Prof. Tian)
30 Lecture 10 Buddhism
Oct 02 Lecture 11 The Universal Empire: Cosmopolitan Tang
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 4
*Learning of the Mysterious: Guo Xiang, "Commentary on the Zhuangzi" (386-90), and
Xi Kang, "On the Absence of Predetermination" (390);
*Daoist Religion: "Commandments of Lord Lao," (395), "Regulations for Petitioning"
(396), "Encounters with Immortals" (410)
Section reading: *Mouzi, "Disposing of Error" (421)
*Huiyuan, "A Monk Does Not Bow Down Before a King" (426)
*"Admonitions of the Fanwang Sutra" (429)
*"Excerpts from the Lotus Sutra" (446-55)
Website: "Images of the Lotus Sutra"
Week 6: The Aristocratic Culture of the Tang Dynasty
Oct 05 Lecture 12 From Early Imperial to Late Imperial China
07 Lecture 13 MIDTERM EXAMINATION
09 Lecture 14 Transforming Society Through Government
Lecture reading: Ebrey, Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 5
Bol, "The Tang-Song Transition as Context for Intellectual Change" (online)
*"House Instructions of Mr. Yan" (541)
*"The Great Tang Code" (546)
Section reading: Yuan Zhen, "Yingying's Story" (in course reader)
Website: "Tang Women"
Week 7: The Literati and Neo-Confucianism
Oct 12 No Class Columbus Day
14 Lecture 15 The Neo-Confucian Movement
16 Lecture 16 The Civil Service Examination System and Society
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 6
*Han Yu, "Essentials of the Moral Way" (569),
"Memorial on the Bone of the Buddha" (583)
*Liu Zongyuan, "Essay on Enfeoffment" (559)
*Ouyang Xiu, "Essay on Fundamentals" (590), "On Parties" (595)
*Wang Anshi, "Memorial to Emperor Renzong" (612), "Memorial on the Crop Loans
Measure" (616), "In Defense of Five Major Policies" (619)
*Su Shi, "Memorial to Emperor Shenzong" (621)
*Sima Guang, "A Petition to Do Away with the Most Harmful of the New Laws" (625)
Section reading: *Zhu Xi's Neo-Confucian Program (720-54)
*Wang Yangming's New Learning of the Mind and Heart (842-55)
Website: "Leisure-suit Literati"
Week 8: Globalization by Conquest and Commerce
Oct 19 Lecture 17 The World Empire of the Mongols
21 Lecture 18 Social Policy and Social Practice in Ming and Qing
23 Lecture 19 Silver and Social Change in Late Ming
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 7
*"Ming Foundations of Late Imperial China" (779-93)
Section reading: Wu Jingzi, The Scholars, chapters 1-7 (in course reader)
Ebrey, Chinese Civilization: "Rules for the Fan Lineage's Charitable Estate" (155),
"Ancestral Rites" (157), "Family Instructions" (238), "Concubines" (245),
"Widows Loyal unto Death" (253), "Genealogy rules" (326)
Website: "Two Scrolls: Song Kaifeng and Qing Suzhou"
Week 9: The Great Qing Empire and the Beginning of Modern China
Oct 26 Lecture 20 The Defining Issues of Modern Chinese History
28 Lecture 21 Achievements and Limits of Manchu Rule
30 Lecture 22 Opium and the Opium Wars
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapters 8 and 9
Ebrey, Chinese Civilization, 311-22
Ebrey, Chinese Civilization: "The Yangzhou Massacre" (271)
Section reading: George Macartney, "Audience with Ch'ien-lung"
Henry Dundas, "Instructions to Lord Macartney"
George III, "Letter to the Emperor of China"
"Two Edicts from the Ch'ien-lung Emperor to King George III" (all in course reader)
Website: "The Qing Conquest of Eastern Turkestan"
"Chinoiserie, or, My Aunt Ethel's Ming Vase"
Week 10: When China became "China": From Empire to Republic
Nov 02 Lecture 23 Christianity and Chinese Salvation
04 Lecture 24 Foreign Models for a Chinese Republic
06 Lecture 25 Case: The Golden Age of Chinese Capitalism
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 10
HBS Case on the Rong Family Enterprises (in course reader)
Section reading: Ebrey, Chinese Civilization: "Liang Qichao on his trip to America" (335-40)
Website: "Urban Life in Transition"
Week 11: Conquest and Culture: the Making of the Modern Nation
Nov 09 Lecture 26 The Military Persuasion
11 No Class Veterans' Day
13 Lecture 27 Culture and Revolution
Lecture reading: Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 11
Section reading: Ebrey, Chinese Civilization: "Ridding China of Bad Customs" (341),
"Rural Education" (348), "My Old Home" (354), "The Spirit of the May Fourth
Movement" (360-363), "The Haifeng Peasant Association" (364), "The Dog Meat
General" (373), "The General Strike" (378), "Funeral Processions" (385),
"My children" (391), "The Life of Beggars" (396), "Generalissimo Jiang on National
Identity" (401), "The Communist Party" (411), "Land Reform" (416)
Website: "Mapping China"
Week 12: The Catastrophes of Mid-Century China, 1937-1976
Nov 16 Lecture 28 Against the Empire of the Sun: The US and China in War and Revolution
18 Lecture 29 Communist "Liberation"
20 Lecture 30 The Tyranny of Mao Zedong
Lecture reading: Ebrey, Chinese Civilization: "Hu Feng and Mao Zedong" (422), "A New Young Man
Arrives at the Organization Department" (429), "Peng Dehuai's Critique of the Great
Leap Forward" (435), "Developing Agricultural Production" (440), "Lei Feng,
Chairman Mao's Good Fighter" (442), "Housing in Shanghai" (447),
"Red Guards" (449), "Victims" (458)
Section reading: Morning Sun (This is a film and will be shown on November 12).
Website: "Propaganda Art in the PRC"
Week 13: Reform, Re-opening, and the Quest for Greatness, 1979-2009
Nov 23 Lecture 31 The People's Republic of China at 60: Looking Back at 30 Years of Reform
25 Lecture 32 Case: Taiwan, the PRC and the Prospects for "Greater China"
27 No Class Thanksgiving Recess
Lecture reading: review Cambridge Illustrated History of China, Chapter 11
The HBS Note and Three HBS Cases (in course reader)
Section reading: Rob Gifford, China Road
Website: "China on the Web"
Week 14: Wealth and Power
Nov 30 Lecture 33 Cases: What's Chinese about Contemporary Chinese Business?
Dec 02 Lecture 34 Conclusion: China's Future in the Light of Its Past
Section reading: Rob Gifford, China Road
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