The traditional model of Chinese history demarks the past into dynasties and their cycles of emperors. But across dynastic timelines, various long-term forces and patterns repeatedly crop up in Chinese society, which over many thousands of years has been shaped by social groups and cultural encounters, some unique and others recurrent. This course will help you better understand both changes and continuities in Chinese history, up to the country that you see today, by looking at China’s multi-layered and dynamic past. We will follow dynastic periods to cover the political, economic, cultural, and social patterns of pre-modern China. We will also try to compare Chinese history and European history so that we can understand different civilizations better. This course begins with the origins of Chinese civilization and ends with the Opium War.
Lectures, readings, excursions, assignments, discussions, and presentations are designed to help you develop the skills to: