History 323, Cultural History of Later Imperial China Fall 2011 Syllabus


Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 12:30 – 13:20, Breland Hall, Rm 182.


Instructor:  Elvira Hammond.  Office: Breland Hall, Room 254.  Phone: 646-2377.  ehammond@nmsu.edu  Office Hours:  Tuesdays 1:30-3pm, Wednesdays 9-10am, or by appointment


Course Description/Objectives: This course will look extensively and intensively at the development of Chinese culture as expressed in art, literature, and public discourse from roughly the 8th through the 18th centuries.  We will consider the objects and artifacts which embody the historical process of constructing culture, as well as the ideas and practices, social and individual, which shaped and were shaped by Chinese people over successive dynasties.  By seeking to understand Chinese cultural production in its historical, social, and economic contexts, we will try to discern patterns of continuity and change, both within China and in terms of China‘s comparative relationship with our own cultural universe.  Much of our time will be devoted to encounters with primary sources: paintings, poems, works of calligraphy, gardens and other architecture, ceramics, as well as with texts from within the Chinese discursive past.  Readings in modern secondary scholarship will help us to develop an understanding of these texts and objects, and to situate them historically.


Required Texts:

The Arts of China.  Fifth Edition.  Michael Sullivan.  ISBN: 978-0-520-25569-2

          Cambridge Illustrated History of China.  2nd Edition. Patricia Buckley Ebrey. 

ISBN: 978-0-521-12433-1



Attendance and Participation .................. 25%

Essays   ................................................ 50%

Final Paper ...........................................  25%


Guidelines: Classroom participation is essential to the process of learning.  I expect you all to be in class, on time, and fully prepared to discuss that day’s reading assignments (see Course Schedule).  Unexcused absences will result in a proportional grade penalty.  If you decide to drop this course, it is up to you to file the necessary paperwork.

Note that this semester’s required reading looks like a lot of material - it is!  Please make sure you have done all the reading for each class prior to coming – it is too much to catch up with at the last minute. I also expect our class to be a place of mutual respect and courtesy, with free-flowing exchanges of ideas.  


Essays:  There will be five short written pieces due during the semester.  (See handout.) These will be based on the assigned readings, handouts, and discussions.


Final Paper:  Each student is responsible for preparing a paper for the class on a topic to be determined in consultation with the professor. Topics will be chosen from the materials presented linked to the students’ own interests. The paper will be not less than 10 pages in length, typed double-spaced, with 1” margins, page numbers and a title page, and written in conformance with one or another acceptable style manual, with a minimum of five non-Internet/WWW resources in the bibliography.  A draft or outline of the paper and initial bibliography is due two weeks before the end of the semester. On or after this date, students will make a brief presentation to the class on their research.


Responsibilities:  Attendance is your responsibility.  If you decide to withdraw, it is up to you to file the appropriate paperwork.  Please turn off all beepers and cell phones.  No work will be accepted after the last day of class, Friday, April 30.  Late assignments will be penalized one grade unit per day.  If you chose to submit your written work via e-mail and not attend class, 10% of the grade will be deducted per assignment.   No written work will be accepted beyond one week after the original due date.  I will not accept written work originally submitted for another course. 


Cheating in all forms is prohibited.  Plagiarism as defined in the Student Code of Conduct is “… submitting … material as one’s own work when such work has been prepared by another person or copied from another person,” and is grounds for expulsion.  If you submit work for this class which in any way arouses suspicion you will be asked to submit supporting documentation of your research.  University policies on academic misconduct and the "Student Code of Conduct" will be enforced.  Please consult the NMSU Student Handbook, or http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/plagiarismforstudents.html for more information.



Students with Disabilities: you may wish to contact the Office for Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), located at Corbett Center, Room 244 (phone: 646-6840).  If you have already registered, please make sure that your instructor receives a copy of the accommodation memorandum from SSD within the first two weeks of classes.  It is your responsibility to inform either your instructor or SSD representative in a timely manner if services/accommodations provided are not meeting your needs.


If you have general questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), call 646-3333.  Or call the Coordinator of Service for Students with Disabilities, at 505-646-6840 with any questions you may have on student issues related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  All medical information will be treated confidentially.


Call the Director of Institutional Equity, at 505-646-3635 with any questions you may have about NMSU’s Non-discrimination Policy and complaints of discrimination, including sexual harassment.

History 323, Spring 2011:  Weekly Class Schedule[1]


Week One                             Introductions: Class content and participants

(Aug. 19)                                                                   


Week Two                             Geography, Language & Culture.

(Aug. 22-26)                          Sullivan, 1-3, Ebrey, 1, Readings. http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/china_1000bce_language.htm


Week Three                          Religions & Philosophies: Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism.

(Aug. 29-Sept. 2)                  Ebrey, 2.  Readings.


Week Four                            No Class Labor Day, Monday, September 5.

(Sept. 5-9)                              Tang history.  Ebrey, 5.


Week Five                             Tang Literature and Art. Mid-Autumn Festival, Sept. 12.

(Sept. 12-16)                         Sullivan, 6, Readings


Week Six                               Song Dynasty history and philosophy.  Neo-Confucianism.

(Sept. 19-23)                         Statecraft: Wang Anshi and Sima Qian. Wenren: Ouyang Xiu and Su Shi.

                                                Reading: Birch, 364-384.  Ebrey, 6.


Week Seven                         Song Poetry.  Landscape painting. Chan Buddhism.

(Sept. 26-30)                         Sullivan:  Chapter 7. 


Week Eight                           The Mongol Conquest.  Ebrey, 7.

(Oct. 3-7)                                Yuan Novel and Songs. 



Week Nine                            Yuan Drama: “The Orphan of Chao”

(Oct. 10-14)                           Yuan Art: Sullivan, Chapter 8.



Week Ten                              Re-establishing the Chinese order, Building Beijing.

(Oct. 17-21)                           Ming Art.  Ebrey, 8. Sullivan, Chapter 9



Week Eleven                                    Ming Opera:  Tang Xianzu’s “Peony Pavilion”

(Oct. 24-28)                           Ming Literature:  The Novel


Week Twelve                        Qing history, philosophy and religion.

(Oct. 31-Nov. 4)                    Ebrey, 9.  http://www.learn.columbia.edu/nanxuntu/start.html



Week Thirteen                      Qing lyrics. 

(Nov. 7-11)                            Qing Art.  Sullivan:  Chapter 10.

“Dream of the Red Chamber”.




Week Fourteen                    21st Century history, Confucianism, art.

(Nov. 14-18)                          Sullivan: Chapter 11.  Students will present their topic and research to the class.  Drafts of paper and bibliographies due.



Week Fifteen                                    Thanksgiving Holiday Week.

(Nov. 21-25)



Week Sixteen                       21st Century Literature and Music.

(Nov. 28-Dec.2)                    Ebrey, 12.  No essays accepted after this class. 



Week Seventeen

(Dec. 5-9)                               Final Exam, Friday, December 9, 2011, 1-3pm.

                                                Final papers due. 


History 323:  Writing Assignments:


  1. What is “culture”?  What is your culture?  Bring in an artifact that helps define or demonstrate your culture (e.g. a piece of sporting equipment, food, a blanket or rug, a basket, etc).  Bring in a piece of literature; poetry, media, music, print of any kind (e.g. a Bible, Torah or Koran, a newspaper, comic book, an academic paper, nursery rhymes, etc.).


  1.  Discuss the role of the bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism.  Who were some prominent bodhisattvas in China?  If you became a bodhisattva, what would your mission be?


  1. Confucianism is the “bedrock” of traditional Chinese values.  What are some of the primary beliefs of Confucianism?  What advantages to society and the individual do you see?  What disadvantages? 


  1. The Tang Dynasty was a time a great cultural flourishing and intersections in China.  Pick one of the following topics:


    1. The Silk Road
    2. Religious influences, domestic and foreign
    3. Your favorite Tang poet/poem
    4. The role of women


  1. Neo-Confucianism is a complex thought system.  Write 3 -5 pages entirely in your own words explaining the basic tenets of Confucianism and then what Neo-Confucianism is.


  1. Calligraphy:  Discuss the interplay between words and brushwork in traditional Chinese art and poetry.  Find an example on the internet or in the library of a piece that interests you.  Reproduce and discuss it.  Also, a quick paragraph on how you use your own penmanship to express mood.  (Does this apply to computer work as well?  Why, for example, did your instructor pick the font “Tahoma” instead of “Courier” or “Times New Roman”?)


  1. Historians differ considerably as to the reasons why and how Temuchin (1155-1227) was able to unite the disparate Mongol tribes and rise up to conquer much of the Eurasian continent.   Tell me what you think – what is the most compelling evidence?


  1. Yuan Drama:  After reading “The Orphan of Chao,” write a brief synopsis of one of the play.  Then write a playbill – a one-page advertisement meant to pack the theater for this afternoon’s matinee.


  1. Ming Opera:  “The Peony Pavilion” – Southern-style drama were called quanqi, or ‘accounts of remarkable things,’ by the Chinese.  What are the remarkable events of this play?  Tang Xianzu, in his introductory comment asks, “Why should the feelings of love experienced in dream not necessarily be genuine?”  From your reading and viewing of the opera, what do you think Tang means?  Is he simply a romantic playwright, or is there a larger point to be made? 


    1. NOTE:  Students who have studied “Peony” in other classes will study a different opera, TBA.  Please see instructor.


  1.  Art:  Now that you’ve had several weeks to contemplate Chinese traditional art, write a response piece to a work or an artist that you have particularly enjoyed.


  1.  “The sociologist Max Weber saw European capitalism as inspired by the Protestant work ethic, which he found lacking in China, India, and Catholic Europe. But is the Chinese family-centered ethic of frugality, saving, and hard work not a “Protestant” ethic of sorts? And if a deeper Calvinist anxiety about salvation is required for industrial development, then why has China and the rest of East Asia achieved such explosive growth since World War II?”  (Albert Craig, The Heritage of Chinese Civilization, p.126)


  1. Update:  Scan the internet or current print media or films and write an essay about intersections between traditional Chinese culture and modern modes.  (If you pick a historical drama film such as “Hero,” for example, make sure you are clear not only on the historical themes (filial piety, ancient cosmology, references to Buddhism, etc.) but also what makes the movie “modern” as well.)  




A brief note on format:  Each essay should be not less than 3 pages or more than 5.  I prefer double spacing (so I can make lots of comments!).  Make sure your name is on the first page, title your essays, use a standard style manual – make me smile. You may include copies of art works, links to websites or interesting videos, etc.  Although much of what you will be writing will be your personal responses to the questions, you may also need to do some research.  Please be sure to appropriately cite all works used.  You will be penalized for sloppy writing (e.g. grammar, punctuation, spelling, format, etc.)  - show me your best work.

            Also, we will spend part of each class session talking about the essays.  Be prepared to share your thoughts and your questions.

[1] Dates and content subject to change as necessary.