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
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.
Students who satisfactorily complete this survey of East Asian history
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
- a foundational knowledge of Chinese and Japanese history, society
- a foundational knowledge of major political systems, artistic themes,
economic trends, and philosophical developments in China and Japan
- specific knowledge of significant people, places and events
in Chinese and Japanese history
- critical reading, writing, and analytical skills through work with
primary documents and materials
- an "Asian perspective" in the analysis of historical and contemporary
- an understanding of how history creates plausible interpretations
of human behavior in past centuries.
- an understanding of how societies develop over centuries through
the complex interaction of socio-economic, political, religious and other
cultural forces including historical memories constructed by successive
- an understanding of continuities and differences between the past
and the present
- differences and similarities in communication, values, practices,
and beliefs between one's own culture and East Asian cultures.
- how categories of human diversity (such as race, gender, ethnicity
and disability) influence personal identities and can create structural
and institutional inequity
- the ability to critically reflect upon one's personal and cultural
presuppositions and how these affect one's values and relationships
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.
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.
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
5/19 Introduction to course goals and requirements,.
Distribution of map exercise. Pronunciation. Chinese creation myths,
"yuanfen and fate"
Workshop: Film on Dynasties
5/21 Neolithic cultures, familism, divination,
shaminism, Shang dynasty, bronzes, oracle bones, written language
Workshop: Global competition
Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 1; Ebrey, #1, 3
5/26 Memorial Day – No
5/28 Western Zhou: Golden Age of the Duke of Zhou,
Eastern Zhou intellectual foundations of Confucianism, Taoism, and
Workshop: Throwing the I
Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 2; Ebrey, #6, 7
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"
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
Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 4; Ebrey, #23, 24
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"
Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 5 & 8; Ebrey, #28, 30
6/11 Midterm Exam
Japanese Creation Myth, Shintoism,
and early cultures
Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 7
6/16 Buddhist and Tang influence Japan's cultural
assimilation, Heian culture: apex of imperial power in Japan
Workshop: Film on Shinto
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
Workshop: Film: "Daimyo"
Schirokauer, Ch. 11
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"
Pre-Modern East Asia: Ch. 13
6/25 Final Exam