Asian Civilization Syllabus

Hist 082: Survey of East Asian Civilization

Dr. Daniel Meissner 
Coughlin Hall 306  (228-3552)
Office Hours: MWF 9:00-10:00
(or by appt.)  

    Summer 2008

Course Description: 
This one-semester Asian survey course provides an introduction to major issues in the historical development of China and Japan from antiquity to the early modern era.  Lecture and readings emphasize the political, intellectual and religious heritage of these cultures – a heritage which today defines and influences Chinese and Japanese societies throughout the world.  Films, projects, and discussions during weekly "workshops" examine specific themes in greater detail, and are designed to promote student participation in informed and reasoned discourse.  This course offers the opportunity for students to engage in cross-cultural study of countries with long and rich historical records; extraordinary, enduring cultural achievements; and increasingly important roles in contemporary international affairs.

Course Objectives: 
Students who satisfactorily complete this survey of East Asian history will demonstrate: Students who satisfactorily complete Hist 082 – an approved Histories of Cultures and Societies and Diverse Cultures course within the University Core of Common Studies – will also demonstrate
Patricia Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais, eds., Pre-Modern East Asia: To 1800 (New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 2005).
Patricia Ebrey, ed.  Chinese Civilization and Society: A Sourcebook (New York: Free Press, 1993).
Daily quizzes, a midterm and a final.  Quizzes will require short answers based on questions related to weekly lectures and reading assignments.  The quizzes are designed to assess student comprehension of specific historical developments.  The midterm and final will consist of short identification and essay questions.  These exams assess student ability to write insightful, comprehensive essays on major themes presented in the course.

Assigned readings for each week should be completed prior to class.  Since the personal and place names are unfamiliar to most western students, readings require additional time and concentration.  This is a fast-paced course that covers the historical development of two East Asian cultures from antiquity to the modern era.  Read ahead rather than fall behind!

Regular attendance is required; absences will affect your grade.  Active participation in class discussion and projects is expected.  Students missing two o more classes may be dropped from this course.

Weekly quizzes
Midterm exam
Final exam

Students are expected to stay current in their readings, complete projects on time, participate in discussions, thoroughly prepare for class and exams, and abide by university rules and regulations as described in the University Bulletin.  The instructor will adhere as closely as possible to the Course Schedule; be available to students during office hours, via email throughout the week, and by special appointment; and provide sample questions for midterm and final exams at least a week in advance.

Special Accommodations: 
Students who need special accommodations in order to meet any of the requirements of this course should make immediate arrangements with the instructor.

Tentative Class Schedule and Readings

Week 1
5/19     Introduction to course goals and requirements,. Distribution of map exercise.  Pronunciation. Chinese creation myths,
            "yuanfen and fate"
            Workshop: Film on Dynasties of Power

5/21    Neolithic cultures, familism, divination, shaminism, Shang dynasty, bronzes, oracle bones, written language
           Workshop: Global competition
                Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 1; Ebrey, #1, 3

Week 2
5/26    Memorial Day – No Class

5/28    Western Zhou: Golden Age of the Duke of Zhou, Eastern Zhou intellectual foundations of Confucianism, Taoism, and                Moism
           Workshop: Throwing the I Ching
                Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 2; Ebrey, #6, 7

eek 3
6/2     China's unification: Legalism vs. Confucianism, Han Expansionism and decline, Wang Mang and Later Han
          Workshop:  Film on "The Mandate of Heaven" or exercise: "Name that -ism"
               Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 3; Ebrey, #11, 13

6/4    Age of Disunity: Three Kingdoms, Northern & Southern Dynasties, the Silk Road, introduction to Buddhism
         Workshop: Calligraphy or Film on Buddhism
              Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 4; Ebrey, #23, 24

Week 4
6/9     Sui and Tang: Golden Age of Chinese (Asian?) politics, High Tang culture, Northern & Southern Song,
          Workshop: The Poetry of Li Bo or film: "The Vanishing Lotus"
               Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 5 & 8; Ebrey, #28, 30

6/11    Midterm Exam
           Japanese Creation Myth, Shintoism, and early cultures
               Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 7   

Week 5
6/16    Buddhist and Tang influence Japan's cultural assimilation, Heian culture: apex of imperial power in Japan  
           Workshop: Film on Shinto influences
                Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 10

6/18    Shogunate Military government in Japan: the Kamakura,  Khubilai Khan and the power of Buddhism in Japan,
           Zen and the origins of Samurai culture
           Workshop: Film:  "Daimyo"
                Readings: Schirokauer, Ch. 11

Week 6
6/23    The Ashikaga/Muromuchi Period, Shoen, commercialism and the rise of military power, Sengoku, Three unifiers,
           Tokugawa, isolation and culture
           Workshop: Film: "Geisha" or "Traditional Performing Arts in Japan"
                Readings: Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 13

6/25    Final Exam