Introductory Seminar in East Asian History
What was life like for the Chinese a thousand years ago? How did individuals and families distinguish themselves in society? Was there a major division between the religious life of the upper and lower classes? How did ordinary people deal with the mundane aspects of everyday life? This course answers the above questions and more through an exploration of one of the most dynamic periods in Chinese history: the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Throughout the semester, we will read works by modern scholars as well a variety of primary sources, including anecdotal writing, legal cases, and precepts for social life. The main topics of the course include philosophical and religious traditions, elite culture, gender and family relations, popular beliefs and practices, and the everyday life of ordinary people. This course fulfills the College’s second writing and historical and Western perspective requirements. No previous knowledge of Chinese history is required.