History 305K (Unique 38995) and ANS 301M (Unique 30620)
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30–5:00 p.m., UTC 3.102
Professor: Roger Hart
Office: GAR 3.216
Office hours: Tues. and Wed., 2:00–3:30 p.m., and by appt.
Note: Please bookmark this syllabus—I may be making adjustments to the readings as the course progresses.
This course offers a cultural history of East Asia from some of the earliest historical records (dating from 1200 B.C.E.) up to 1800 C.E. We will cover the major historical events, developments, and trends -- social, political, economic, military, philosophical, literary, and cultural. The main focus of the course will be on primary sources. We will read (in translation) the most important writings from the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean traditions. These readings include Shang dynasty oracle bone inscriptions (used for divination), early Chinese philosophy (including Daoism and Confucianism), the early Japanese constitution, Japanese religions (Shinto, Buddhism), and Korean documents on the founding of early states, together with selections from dynastic histories, historical biographies, novels, satires, poetry, songs, ritual manuals, diaries, scientific treatises, philological studies, and political debates. We will take an interdisciplinary approach, integrating history with literary studies, philosophy, and anthropology, in order to better understand these texts in their historical context.
There are no prerequisites for this course.
Class attendance is mandatory.
The final course grade will be based on the following: (1) attendance, in-class quizzes, and class participation (30%); (2) the mid-term examination (15%) and final examination (15%); (3) the term paper (8–10 pages, 40%). Plus/minus grades will be assigned for the final course grade.
For help with writing, see the Undergraduate Writing Center. For suggestions on writing the final paper, see "Writing Term Papers."
Sources of East Asian Tradition, Volume 1, Premodern Asia, ed. William Theodore de Bary et al. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), ISBN 9780231143059.
John R. Trimble, Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000), ISBN 0130257133.
Pre-modern East Asia: To 1800: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, ed. Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall, and James Palais (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006), ISBN 0618133860.
All other readings will be made available through electronic reserves:
This electronic reserves page is password-protected; please email me if you need the password.
The website for this course is this page,
“China in the Bronze Age: The Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties (ca. 1500–771 B.C.E.),” chap. 1 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 10–24.
“The Oracle Bone Inscriptions of the Late Shang Dynasty,” chap. 1 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 13–21.
“Philosophers and Warring States During the Eastern Zhou Period (770–296 B.C.E.),” chap. 2 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 25–42.
Classic of Documents (Shang shu 尚書 or Shu jing 書經, 6th? c. BCE to 4th c. CE) and Classic of Poetry (Shi jing 詩經, 1000? to 600? BCE), selections, trans. in “Classical Sources of Chinese Tradition,” chap. 2 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 22–28.
Analects (Lun yu 論語, 500? to 250? BCE), attributed to Confucius (Kongzi 孔子, 551–479 BCE), selections, trans. in “Confucius and the Analects,” chap. 3 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 29–40.
The Classic of the Way and Virtue (Dao de jing 道德經, 3rd? century BCE), attributed to Laozi 老子 (n.d.); and Zhuangzi 莊子 (350? to 50? BCE) attributed to Zhuang Zhou 莊周 (fl. 320? BCE). Selections. Trans. in “The Way of Laozi and Zhuangzi,” chap. 5 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 49–68.
Mencius (Mengzi 孟子, 300? to 250? BCE), attributed to Meng Ke 孟軻 (c. 371–289 BCE). Selections. Trans. in “The Evolution of the Confucian Tradition in Antiquity,” chap. 6 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 69–91.
John R. Trimble, Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000).
“The Founding of the Bureaucratic Empire: Qin-Han China (256 BCE-200 CE),” chap. 3 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 43–64.
Guanzi 管子 (7th? century BCE to 100? BCE), attributed to Guan Zhong 管仲 (d. 645 BCE); Book of Lord Shang (Shang jun shu 商君書, c. 350? to 200? BCE), attributed to Shang Yang 商 鞅 (385–338 BCE); Han Feizi 韓非子 (250? to c. 233 BCE), by Han Fei (c. 280–c. 233 BCE); and memorials by Li Si 李斯 (280?–208 BCE). Selections. Trans. in “Legalists and Militarists,” chap. 7 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 106–119.
Sima Tan 司馬談 (c. 165–110 BCE) and Sima Qian 司馬遷 (c. 145–86 BCE), Records of the Grand Historian (Shi ji 史記); Lu Jia 陸賈 (?-170 BCE), New Discourses (Xin yu 新語); Jia Yi 賈宜 (201–168? BCE), New Writings (Xin shu 新書); Dong Zhongshu 董仲舒 (195?–105? BCE), Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals (Chun qiu fan lu 春秋繁露). Selections. Trans. in “The Han Reaction to Qin Absolutism,” “Syncretic Visions of State, Society, and Cosmos,” and “The Imperial Order and Han Syntheses,” chaps. 9–11 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 126–30, 134–37, 145–51, 153–69, 194–204.
“Political Division in China and the Spread of Buddhism (200–580),” chap. 4 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 71–87.
Mouzi: Disposing of Error (Mouzi li huo lun 牟子理惑論, c. 25–420); Huiyuan 慧遠 (334–417), A Monk Does Not Bow Down Before a King; Admonitions of the Fanwang Sutra (Fan wan jing 梵網經, n.d.). Selections. Trans. in “The Introduction of Buddhism,” chap. 15 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, 223–37.
Jizang 吉蔵 (549–623), Profound Meaning of the Three Treatises (Sanlun xuanyi 三論玄義); Lotus Sutra (Miaofa lianhua jing 妙法蓮華經, c. 1rst cent., trans. into Chinese c. 209); Huisi 慧思 (515–577), The Method of Calming and Contemplation in the Mahayana; The Flower Garland Sutra (Huayan jing 華嚴經, trans. into Chinese c. 420); Anon, The Humane King as Protector of Buddhism. Selections. Trans. in “Schools of Buddhist Doctrine,” chap. 16 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 238–63.
“The Cosmopolitan Empires of Sui and Tang China (581–960)”, Chapter 5 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 88–110.
Daochuo 道綽 (562–645), Compendium on the Happy Land (Anleji 安樂集); Shandao 善導 (613–681), Guanjing shu; Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (Liu zu tan jing 六祖壇經), attributed to Huineng 慧能 (638–713); Regulations of the Chan School (Chanmen guishi 禪門規式), attributed to Baizhang Huaihai 百丈懷海 (720–814); Chanyuan Monastic Code (Chanyuan qinggui 禪苑清規, n.d.); Zhongfeng Mingben 中峰明本 (1262–1323), Admonition on Filiality. Selections. Translated in “Schools of Buddhist Practice,” chap. 17 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 264–289.
Yan Zhitui 顏之推 (531–591), “House Instructions of Mr. Yan” (Yanshi jiaxun 顏氏家訓); Zhangsun Wuji 長孫無忌 (?-659), The Tang Code (Tang lü 唐律); Han Yu 韓愈 (768–824), Essentials of the Moral Way and “Memorial on the Bone of Buddha”; Emperor Wuzong 武宗 (r. 841–846), “Edict on the Suppression of Buddhism” (845). Selections. Trans. in “Social Life and Political Culture in the Tang,” chap. 18 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 290–307.
“Early Korea: Choson, Three Kingdoms, Silla, and Parhae,” chap. 6 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 116–136.
Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 479–515.
Midterm Examination, in class, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 3:30–5:00 p.m.
“Early State and Society in Japan (to 794),” Chapter 7 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 137–52.
Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 613–671.
“China Among Equals: Song, Liao, Xia, and An,” chapter 8 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 153–175.
Cheng Hao 程灏 (1032–1085), “Ten Matters Calling for Reform”; Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021–1086), “Memorial to Emperor Renzong (1058)”; Cheng Hao, “Remonstrance Against the New Laws”; Wang Anshi, “In Defense of Five Major Policies”; Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019–1086), “A Petition to Do Away with the Most Harmful of the New Laws.” Selections. Trans. in “The Confucian Revival in the Song,” chap. 19 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 308–325.
Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130–1200), “Preface to the Great Learning by Chapter and Phrase,” “The Great Learning by Chapter and Phrase,” “Preface to the Mean by Chapter and Phrase,” “The Mean by Chapter and Phrase,” “Personal Proposals for Schools and Official Recruitment,” and “Proclamation of Instructions.” Selections. Trans. in “Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucian Program,” chap. 21 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 361–87.
“The Koryo Dynasty,” chapter 9 of Ebrey, Pre-modern East Asia, pp. 176–191.
Wang Kon 王建 (King Taejo 太祖, 877–943), “Formation of Government” and “Ten Injunctions.” Ch’oe Sungno (927–989), “On Current Affairs” and “On Buddhism.” Ch’oe Ch’unghon, “Ten Injunctions,” “Personnel Authority,” and “Private Armies.” Yi Chehyon (1287–1367), “Opposition to Yuan Policies” and “Reform Proposals.” Yi Saek (1328–1396), “Memorial on Current Affairs” and “The Spread of Neo-Confucianism” [in chap. 34]. Chong Tojon (d. 1398), “Philosophical Rebuttal of Buddhism and Daoism.” Kim Pusik, (1075–1151), “On Presenting the Historical Record of the Three Kingdoms to the King.” Selections. Trans. in “Early Koyro Political Structure,” “Military Rule and Late Koyro Reform,” and “Neo-Confucianism,” chaps. 31, 32, and 34 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 535–49 and 558–62.
“Heian Japan” and “Kamakura Japan,” chapters 10 and 11 of Ebrey, Pre-Modern East Asia, pp. 192–224.
Jien 慈円 (1155–1225), “Jottings of a Fool” (Gukanshō 愚管抄); Kitabatake Chikafusa 北畠親房 (1293 – 1354), “Chronicle of the Direct Succession of Gods and Sovereigns” (Jinnō shōtōki 神皇正統記). Selections. Trans. in “New Views of History,” chap. 49 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 737–53.
Tale of Hōgen (Hōgen monogatari 保元物語, ca. 1320); Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari, 平家物語); Chronicle of Great Peace (Taiheiki 太平記, c. late 14th century). Selections. Trans. in “The Way of the Warrior,” chap. 50 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 754–72.
“Japan’s Middle Ages (1330–1600),” chapter 13 of Ebrey, Pre-modern East Asia, pp. 324–347.
“Law and Precepts for the Warrior Houses,” chap. 56 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 829–44.
“The Regime of the Unifiers,” chap. 57 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 845–61.
“The Ming Empire in China (1368–1600),” chapter 14 of Ebrey, Pre-modern East Asia, pp. 324–347.
Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋 (Taizu of the Ming 明太祖, 1328–1398), “August Ming Ancestral Instruction” and “Placard for the Instruction of the People.” Selections. Trans. in “Ideological Foundations of Late Imperial China,” chap. 22 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 394–401.
Wang Yangming 王陽明 (1472–1528), “Memoir on the Reconstruction of Shanyin Prefectural School,” “Questions on the Great Learning,” “The Identification of Mind and Principle,” “Unity of Knowing and Action,” “Collowquy at the Tianquan Bridge,” “Fundamental Ideas on Elementary Education,” and “The Community Compact for Southern Ganzhou.” Selections. Trans. in “Self and Society in the Ming,” chap. 22 of Sources of East Asian Tradition, pp. 428–41.
“Europe Enters the Scene,” in Ebrey, Pre-modern East Asia, pp. 308–12.
Matteo Ricci (1562–1610), Introduction and chap. 1, “A Discussion on the Creation of Heaven, Earth, and All Things by the Lord of Heaven, and on the Way He Exercises Authority and Sustains Them, “ in The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, pp. 57–97 (English translation is on odd-numbered pages only).
Li Zhizao 李之藻 (1569–1630), “Preface to Ricci’s True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven.” SCT, vol. 2, pp. 144–47.
Xu Guangqi 徐光啟 (1562–1633), “Memorial in Defense of Western Learning.” SCT, vol. 2, pp. 147–50.
Yang Guangxian 楊光先 (1597–1669), “I Cannot Do Otherwise.” SCT, vol. 2, pp. 150–52.
Term paper due in class, Wednesday, December 1.
Final examination. The final examination will be given the last day of class, Wednesday, December 1, 3:30–5:00 p.m. Make-up examinations and incompletes will be given only for documented emergencies.
Policies on academic integrity are posted on the following webpage: