HIST 250: East Asia to 1800
Wed & Fri 2:10-3:30
Peirce Hall 201 (Beamis Music Room)


Prof. Ruth Dunnell
Seitz 4, x5323
Office hours: Mon 2-4, Wed. 4-5 pm, Thurs. 10-11 am & 2-3:00 pm
Contact me at dunnell@kenyon.edu

Course description:
As China reemerges as the center of a resurgent East Asia in the 21st century, a cycle of history comes full circle. For a millennium before the "century of shame" (mid-19th-mid-20th cc), China dominated the political and cultural economy of East Asia, and radiated its seductive material civilization outward, drawing to its fabled entrepots the world’s merchants (Indians, Arabs, Khmers, Malays, Turks and other Asians, an occasional intrepid Italian or Frank, and later Portuguese “bandits,” among others).

This course aims to examine the East Asian world before the rise of European maritime dominance, focussing on China, Korea, and Japan. The first half will examine the genesis of East Asia as a coherent cultural unit in the first millennia CE. These centuries saw the introduction and spread of Buddhism throughout the region, which religion and associated practices dominated people's world view and profoundly shaped the landscape.

The second half of the course will focus on the12th to 18th centuries, in particular on the practices of the "family-state" (family, gender, politics, and kingship), whose maturation highlights the Confucianization of East Asia in these later centuries. The Mongol and Manchu conquests of the 13th and 17th centuries mark key transition points in this process. The three memoirs (one a reconstruction) we are reading open a window into the individual's perspective on his or her place in the social and political order as well as in the the world beyond, on the amalgamation of Buddhism and Confucianism, and on perceptions of cultural or ethnic or national identity. On Wednesdays I will mostly lecture, and on Fridays the class will be run as a seminar, engaged in discussion, analysis of sources, class exercises, and short student presentations.

Attendance on both days and especially Fridays will be crucial, so plan accordingly! You may miss two classes without penalty; each subsequent absence will result in a deduction of 10 points from your final point total.

DISABILITIES: If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your ability to carry out assigned course work, I urge you to contact the Office of Disability Services at 5453. The Coordinator of Disability Services, Erin Salva (salvae@kenyon.edu), will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are appropriate. All information and documentation of disability is confidential.

Required texts available at the bookstore and on Library Reserve:

Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.-A.D. 907
Daniel Gardiner, transl., Chu Hsi, Learning to Be a Sage
Morris Rossabi, Khubilai Khan, His Life and Times
Karen Brazell, trans., The Confessions of Lady Nijo
Jonathan Spence, Emperor of China, Self-Portrait of K’ang-hsi
JaHyun Kim Haboush, The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong

Other readings will be found online, on Library Reserve, or on Electronic Reserve (ERES).

Links to Course Components

Evaluation Visual source presentation guidelines
Attendance policy Short paper guidelines
Class Schedule Final exam
Class Assignment guidelines Resources


Evaluation (1000 point total)
Class assignments 30% Friday reading abstracts & reports: group language reports (10%/100 pts); group timelines and maps (5%/50 pts);5 reading abstracts @30 pts each (15%/150 pts). See guidelines.
4 Short Papers 40% 3-4 page analyses of the source readings assigned to class. Due Friday Feb. 25, Friday April 1, Friday April 15, and Friday April 29 . See guidelines. @100 pts each (400 pts)
Visual source presentation 10% Sign up before Spring Break to present a 10-minute analysis of a visual source. See guidelines. (100 pts)
Final Exam (take home) 20%

Due Friday May 13, 3:30 pm. (200 pts.)

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Attendance: You may miss class twice without penalty. Every subsequent absence will lower your final point total by10 points for each absence. You are responsible for finding out what happened when you miss class and preparing appropriately.

*excused absence: documented participation in a scheduled athletic event, illness or other event documented by note or letter from dean of students or academic dean. Documented illness can also mean that your name appears on a list circulated weekly by the Health Clinic. Ordinary suffering does not constitute an excused absence, but if you fall prey to it frequently, see me.

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Class Schedule

Wed. Jan 19 Introduction: Unity and Diversity in East Asia

Fri. Jan 21 The Genesis of East Asia, chs. 1 & 2

Assignment: Reading abstract 1 on Genesis;
Print out, read and bring to class the following sources: The Great Learning (Da xue) , The Classic of Filial Piety (Chinese title: Xiaojing/Hsiao ching)

Wed. Jan. 26 Ties that Bind: language, religion, and empire

Fri. Jan 28 The Genesis of East Asia, ch. 3

Assignment: Reading abstract 2 on Genesis;
Browse Geography, Calligraphy and Buddhism from "A Visual Sourcebook for Chinese Civilization." Choose Calligraphy or Buddhism to read & discuss in depth.

Wed. Feb. 2 East Asia and the world beyond

Fri. Feb. 4 The Genesis of East Asia, chs. 4-5
[N.b. typo p. 120, last sentence first full para: “... mingled there with a preexisting Han population.”]

Assignment: Reading abstract 3 on Genesis;
browse these Silk Road websites: Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith and Silk Road Seattle (go to Maps, click on Interactive Map Exercises and do the map quizzes).

Wed. Feb. 8 Continental Bridges: Vietnam and Korea

Fri. Feb 10 The Genesis of East Asia, chs. 6-7

Assignment: Present language reports

Wed. Feb. 15 Island/Maritime East Asia

Fri. Feb. 18 The Genesis of East Asia, ch. 8-9

Assignment: Reading abstract 4 on Genesis;

Wed. Feb. 22 Song China & Confucianization of East Asia

Gardner, Chu Hsi, Learning to Be a Sage, ix-xii, 3-81

Fri. Feb. 25 Chu Hsi [Zhu Xi], Learning to Be a Sage
Selections: 96-106, 116-121, 128-135, 180-181, 191-193

First short paper due.

Wed. Mar. 2 Nomads and Farmers in East Asia

Assignment: Present timelines and maps

Fri. Mar. 4 Rossabi, Khubilai Khan, ch. 1-3

Spring Break: Read Khubilai Khan over break!

Wed. Mar. 23 Women, Family & Kinship practices: Mongols in China

Fri. Mar. 25 Khubilai Khan, finish.

Assignment: Reading abstract 5 on Khubilai Khan

Wed. Mar. 29 Women, Family & Kinship practices: Rise of Samurai in Japan

Fri. April 1 Confessions of Lady Nijo, chs. Intro., Books 1-3 (NO CLASS, instructor out of town)

2nd short paper due in Seitz House by 4 pm (in box outside door).

Wed. April 6 Politics & Religion: Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity

Fri. April 8 Confessions of Lady Nijo, finish

Wed. April 13 Qing East Asia: The Manchu difference

Fri. April 15 Emperor of China, entire

3rd short paper due.

Wed. April 20 Kingship/kinship in 18th c. East Asia

Fri. April 22 Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, Intro. & "Memoir of 1795"

Wed. April 27 Political Economy of East Asia, 17th-18th cc.

Fri. April 29 Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, "Memoir of 1805," to p. 286

4th short paper due.

Wed. May 4 Seeds of change: traders, raiders, and malcontents

Fri. May 6 Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, finish "Memoir of 1805"


Friday May 13, 3:30 pm: Final exams due. Papers may be turned in earlier.

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Assignment Guidelines

Reading Abstracts: A one page abstract that 1) identifies or lists key ideas, terms, names ; 2) summarizes the author's main point(s) or argument; and 3) poses questions you have (passages you did not understand, etc.) comments, or observations about related matters, e.g., something relevant you learned in another course. (Five abstracts at 30 points each = 150 pts.) Due in class on the day of the assignment. Must be typed neatly, and written in grammatical English. Spelling counts! ONE PAGE!

Language reports: You will form three groups (Japan, Korea, China) to research and report to class on the language(s) of your region. The China group will cover a more complex linguistic terrain, so members might each cover a major dialect region, or the group may divide its tasks in other ways. Each group's report should cover the following topics concisely: 1. Spoken language-- major characteristics, 2. Written language: development of scripts or writing systems, major genres of literature and when they developed. You can use powerpoint or prepare handouts. Each group's report should not exceed 20 minutes, and each group or contributing subgroups should submit a list of sources (full citations) consulted. See Resources below. You should use books and not rely exclusively on online (web) materials. Present to class on Friday Feb. 10 (100 pts)

Language Report Groups:

China: Ian Gaunt, John Skubel, Dan Shelley, Phil Grosdidier, Scott Tooter, Grace Twesigye

Japan: Brendan Cox, Sara Brinda, Carter Mason, Marc Steiner, Ali Kittle, Emily Atkinson

Korea: Amelia Wegner, Emily Rains, Ann Marie Johnson, Ben McIntyre, Mike Frick, Lindsey Fritz


Timelines and maps: In three groups (Japan, Korea, China), put together a set of handy reference materials for your classmates, consisting of a timeline of your region (from roughly 907 CE to roughly 1800) of no more than 2 pages, and some maps (as many as you deem necessary) showing major changes over that time period. Use Library resources (Reserves, Reference, textbooks on shelves, etc.) in addition to online or others, and prepare a list of sources used for your group's reference set. The list should include a full citation for each source. Each map should be labeled, and its source given in parantheses at the bottom of the map. Make copies of the reference set to distribute in class on Wednesday March 2 . (50 points)

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Short Paper Guidelines

Papers will be graded on content, organization, and writing (use of clear, grammatical, properly punctuated English). Avoid informal language and write in complete sentences. Organize your ideas in a logical, easy to follow format, with an opening introduction, middle sections to make your points, and conclusion to sum up your analysis. Edit your paper for typos and misspellings. Please do not exceed four pages.

Be sure to discuss the origin (time, place, medium), authorship, and likely audience of the source, as well as its intended messages, as you interpret them. Read but do not copy or limit yourself to the ideas presented in any editorial introductions to the source you choose to analyze. Hand in your paper on a day when that source is being discussed in class.

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Visual Source Presentation Guidelines

In addition to the questions you would ask about a written source, identify the medium/media used to produce your visual source, and discuss how it was produced, on what occasion, for what purposes, etc.

In presenting your talk, use notes on cards, e.g., instead of reading your data. Always face your audience and speak out to them, so that they can hear you. Use a pointer if you will work with a slide or overhead; handouts are helpful too. Practice your talk so that you can accomplish it within 10 minutes, without rushing. Consult the Resources section below and check Olin for art and exhibition catalogues; you may check out slides from the Slide Library or make an overhead transparancy (a slide or overhead projector can be procured for class that day), or use a powerpoint slide. Remember: many good images cannot be found online!

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Final Exam Due Friday May 13, by 3:30 p.m.

This take-home examination has two parts. Choose one from A and one from B, and write an essay of about 750 words for each. 200 pts @ 100 pts for each essay.

Be as concise and specific as possible, citing relevant class readings (including short items handed out in class) to demonstrate or illustrate your points. You may also draw upon your research for the language and visual presentations in composing your essays. Only simple citations are necessary (Spence, 45) or (Nijo, 130) or (Mulan handout). You do not need to give citations for lecture notes. Use ONLY class materials to complete this examination.

Follow the same format as for class papers; label each essay (e.g., A1, B3), put your name on the first page, staple together, and hand in by Friday May 13, at 3:30 pm.

A. Choose 1 OR 2:

1. Discuss and evaluate the impact of Zhu Xi's teachings on East Asia, citing specific examples for China, Japan and Korea, in the period 1200-1800. To what extent (and where) did what is called Neo-Confucianism challenge and/or dislodge local Buddhist practices or affiliations?

2. Explain how the doctrine of filial piety evolved in China and played out in Korea and Japan over the period we have studied. What did it mean to be "filial" in each of these places, and how did the meanings or practice of filiality change over time? How would you account for differences or similarities that emerged? (E.g., did social class status, family structure or position in the family, gender, religious traditions, etc. matter?)

B. Choose 3, 4, OR 5:

3. Why were North Asian tribes able to conquer and rule part or all of China during the period under study? What changes had taken place on both sides of the frontier that help explain why the Manchus were the most successful and long-lived of these conquerors? Why, for example, did Manchu rule over China last longer than Mongol rule?

4. Compare court life in 18 th century Qing China to court life in 18 th c. Choson Korea; what might official envoys from one court to the other be likely to notice and report back to their close friends? How would they characterize the customs and goings-on they had observed? (You may arrange for your envoys or their staff to have means of access to the "inner quarters"). How would you account for the differences and similarities that you find?

5. Discuss and compare the concept and practice of kingship in China, Korea, and Japan: Who ruled and how did rulers get chosen? How were rulers supposed to behave and what did they strive to accomplish? How were their powers limited (in practice or theory)? Analyze three key moments in history, one for each place. What do the differences among them suggest about the political culture of each country?

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1. At the Library
This is only a very small selection of available materials, including most of the general source compilations. More thematically specific materials can be found on the shelves (history in DS 700s-900s; literature in PL 700s-2000s, etc.)

Source Collections on Reserve:
Sources of Chinese Tradition, vols. 1 & 2

Sources of Japanese Tradition, vols. 1 & 2

Sources of Korean Tradition, vols. 1 & 2

Patricia B. Ebrey, Chinese Civilization and Society, a Sourcebook

Michiko Y. Aoki and Margaret B. Dardess, As the Japanese See It, Past and Present

Susan Mann & Yu-yin Cheng, Under Confucian Eyes, Writings on Gender in Chinese History


Recent monographs & anthologies of essays on Reserve :
JaHyun Kim Haboush, Yongjo and the Politics of Sagacity (1998); A Heritage of Kings: One Man's Monarchy in the Confucian World (1988 edn of the first book)

Dorothy Ko, et al, eds., Women and Confucian Culture in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan (2003)

Chieko Irie Mulhern, Heroic with grace: legendary women of Japan (1991)


Language References:
S. Robert Ramsey, The Languages of China

Jerry Norman, Chinese

John DeFrancis, The Chinese Language, Fact and Fantasy

Roy Andrew Miller, The Japanese Language

Peter T. Daniels & William Bright, eds., The World's Writing Systems (REF  P211 W714 1996)

R.E. Asher, ed.,   The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (REF P29 E48, vols. 1-10)

See "About Korea" in online resources below.


Visual Materials:
Yoshiaki Shimizu, ed., Japan, the shaping of daimyo culture, 1185-1868

Heibonsha survey of Japanese art, vols. 1-31. Vol. 31 is Index volume.

Art catalogues (see me or Prof. Sarah Blick for suggestions, and browse shelves N7000s-ND)

Slide Library:

World History Slide Collection (in wooden box, with manual)

Chinese, Japanese, Korean slide drawers (ask curator Zhou Yan for help)


Online: (see Silk Road sources in the syllabus)

Chinese History (to the Qing Dynasty)

Ancient China (The British Museum)

A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization

UCLA Center for East Asian Studies, Asian Documents Index

China the Beautiful (Art & Literature)

History of Japan: An Annotated Directory of Internet Resources

Internet East Asian History Sourcebook

About Korea



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