Journey Up the Yangtze: An Introduction to Chinese Culture
The Honors College of New Mexico State University, Fall 2011
Professor: Elvira A. Hammond
Meeting Time and Place: Wednesdays at 1:30pm, Conroy Honors Bldg., Room 205
Contact Info: Elvira A. Hammond, Breland Hall, Room 254, 646-2377, firstname.lastname@example.org
Objectives: An introduction to Chinese culture, this course uses a wide variety of primary materials (both Chinese in translation and English language) to give the students an understanding of the vast traditions of China. After developing fundamental knowledge of the place and the people, we will begin reading a 12th century travel diary and some supplemental texts to better focus on the Yangtze River region, which has for a century been home to more than half China’s population. We will bring our studies up to the modern period and investigate the construction of the Yangtze River Dam (1997-2009) to look at how the past has shaped the present.
Structure: Weekly meetings will consist of lecture, discussion, and occasional multi-media presentations on the topics below. Essentially we will follow the journey of Southern Song dynasty writer Lu Yu (1125-1210) up the Yangtze River from his home on the eastern seaboard to his new post in Sichuan Province. Using Burton Watson’s translation of his diary from 1170 we will enter into traditional Chinese culture, exploring the many concepts that Lu Yu introduces. All classes will be discussion sessions and all students are expected to arrive having completed the assigned reading for the day and ready to weigh in with their questions and opinions.
Text: Misc. readings provided by the professor. See “Reading List” to follow.
Class Assignments: Weekly Response Essays. You are required to turn in ten response essays to the readings for this course. I cannot emphasize enough to you how important writing is to critical thinking. It’s great to come to class and just talk about the readings, but writing is how you organize your thoughts, martial your data, construct your arguments, and consolidate your learning. The more you write, the better writer you will become.
response essay should be a solid 5-paragraph essay, with an introduction,
supporting data/information/thoughts, and a conclusion. It need not be long.
In fact, conciseness is a virtue. But you need to clearly express your
reactions to the literature you’ve read (or video viewed), after clearly stating
what you read and what the context for the piece is. Now, since you might be a
“high creative” kind of student, I am open to variations, such as writing your
response as an epic poem, comparing another piece of writing, creating a manga,
interpretive dance (?) – but check with me first.
August 24: Introductions – class, instructor, students.
August 31: Geography – physical and human
Reading: “The Chinese Scene,” by John K. Fairbank
September 7: Language and Literature
Reading: Chu Yu-Kuang on Chinese
September 14: The Confucian Tradition
Reading: “The Old Order,” by John K. Fairbank; “A Gentleman’s Code,” Confucius; “The Seven Feminine Virtues,” Pan Chao
September 21: Pre-modern history (with emphasis on the Song Dynasty)
Reading: “Meditation at Red Cliff,” Su Dongpo; “Song Society: Chang within Tradition,” E. A. Kracke, Jr.; “The Attractions of the Capital”
September 28: Buddhism and Daoism
Readings: Hawai’i Reader
October 5: Lu Yu’s “Diary of a Trip to Shu”
October 12: Tea Culture
Readings: “Material Culture: Tea”, Lu Yu continued. See also: http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/geography/element_d/ed10.html#15
October 19: Modern China: The Three Gorges Dam Project
Video: “Up the Yangtze”
October 26: Video: “Up the Yangtze”
November 2: Readings: “Underwater: The world’s biggest dam floods the past” by Peter Hessler and “The Future is Past” by James Kynge.
November 9: Reading: “The City without a Past,” Simon Winchester.
November 16: Population and Environmental Issues
November 23: Thanksgiving Week, No Classes
November 30: Concluding session.
Reading: “When China Rules the World” by Martin Jacques
December 5: Finals Week Begins
Journeys: Up the Yangtze River: Reading List
Chu Yu-Kuang “The Chinese Language” in An Introduction to Chinese Civilization. John T. Meskill, editor. Pp 587-616.
Dernberger, Robert F., Kenneth J. DeWoskin, Steven M. Goldstein, Rhoads Murphey, Martin K. Whyte, editors, The Chinese: Adapting the Past, Building the Future. Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 1986. Ebrey, Patricia, “Family Instructions”, Fairbank, John K., “The Gentry,” “The Chinese Scene,” “The Old Order.”, Kracke, Jr., E. A., “Sung Society: Change within Tradition.”
Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. China: A Cultural, Social and Political History. “Material Culture: Tea.” Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. 2nd Edition, pp. 178-185. New York: The Free Press, 1981. “The Attractions of the Capital” from “Duzheng jisheng,” in Dongjing menghua lu, wai si zhong (Shanghai: Zhonghua shuju, 1962).
Jacques, Martin. “When China Rules the World.” When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World. Pp.363-413. Allen Lane/Penguin Books, 2009.
Kynge, James. “The Future is the Past (Except When It Isn’t).” China Shakes the World: A Titan’s Rise and Troubled Future – and the Challenge for America. Pp. 23-44. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
Li, Dun J., The Civilization of China: From the Formative Period to the Coming of the West. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1975. Chuang Chou, “Autumn Flood”, Confucius, “A Gentleman’s Code”, Pan Chao, “The Seven Feminine Virtues.”
Lu Yu, The Old Man Who does as He Pleases: Selections from the Poetry and Prose of Lu Yu, translated by Burton Watson. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1973.
Mair, Victor, Nancy S. Steinhardt, and Paul R. Goldin, editors. “The Tradition of the Daode jing,” and “Zhuang Zi” pp. 78-91. Hawai’i Reader in Traditional Chinese Culture. Hawai’i University Press, 2005.
Su Shi “Battle of Red Cliff” http://www.chinapage.com/red-cliff.html .
Winchester, Simon, The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time. “The City without a Past.” New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996.