Cultural History of Ming China

Undergraduate Seminar
Spring 2002
HIS 350L (Unique 35550) & ANS 372 (Unique 27020)
T Th 11-12:20
GAR 205

Prof. Roger Hart
Office: Garrison 405
Office hours: Tuesdays 1-4 p.m.
Office phone: 475-7258

Course Description

This course offers a cultural history of China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), covering the major historical events, developments, and trends. Topics include the following: Confucian learning, heterodoxy, and syncretism; Buddhism, religion, and cults; science, technology, medicine, and the military; crises -- famines, peasent rebellions, invasions, disease; examinations, factions, and politics; intellectual trends -- classics, history, philosophy, and literature; state, governance, ritual, and law; and relations with the Japanese, the Europeans, and the fall of the Ming dynasty to the Manchus. We will read (in translation) the most important writings from this period, together with the most recent secondary research. We will take an interdisciplinary and critical approach, integrating history with literary studies, philosophy, and anthropology.

Course Requirements

Class attendance is mandatory. Students may choose one of the following two options:

(1) Before class write a brief summary of the readings, to be handed in at the beginning of class. Notes on each of the readings should usually be two short paragraphs -- one summarizing the central argument and one offering critical analysis -- for a total of 2 to 3 pages per week. Students should complete notes for two of three readings per week, and for ten of the fifteen weeks. These will be graded and will serve as the basis for class discussions. Grading: reading assignments 80%; class participation 20%.

(2) Complete a final paper of 16 pages (20 pages for graduate students). Students should consult me as early as possible on possible topics. An outline and bibliography are due by the eighth week; a first draft must be turned in by the twelfth week; and the final draft is due on the final day of class. Grading: final paper 80%; class participation 20%.


All readings will be available through electronic reserves: This electronic reserves page is password-protected; please email me if you need the password. Also, please bookmark this syllabus -- I will continue to make changes in the readings as the semester progresses.