EAC 379 (9112) / HIS 379 (8850)

                                                               History of China I

                                                                       Fall 2008


Meets TuTh 10:15.-11:35 a.m. in Humanities 123.


Associate Professor Anthony DeBlasi

Office: Humanities 210

Phone: x2-5316

E-mail: deblasi@albany.edu

Office Hours: Tuesday 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.; Thursday 1:00-2:30 p.m.; and by appointment


This course is a survey of China's historical development from prehistory to the founding of the Ming Dynasty in the fourteenth century. We will concern ourselves especially with the transformation of Chinese social structure over time, the relations between the state and the social elite, and the relationship between China's intellectual, political, and social histories.


Texts for purchase:

The following books are required and available for purchase at the University bookstore:

Roberts, J.A.G. A History of China. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Gernet, Jacques. Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1962.

Liu, Jung-en, tr. Six Yuan Plays. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, Ltd. 1972.


The other required readings are available on the E-RES system in the library.



Attendance is required at all lectures and discussions:

Midterm Examination                                                    20%

Ten-page Research Paper                                             35%

Final Examination                                                          25%

Quizzes (Map and Reading)                                          10% (5% map; 5% reading)

Class Participation                                                        10%

(Essay questions and identification term lists will be distributed prior to the examinations).


Grading policies:

Please note the following policies:

1. Letter grades are assigned according to the following scale: A=93-100, A-=90-92, B+=87-89, B=83-86, B-=80-82, C+=77-79, C=73-76, C-=70-72, D+=67-69, D=63-66, D-=60-62, E=less than 60. Please note that work never turned in counts as a zero (0).

2. Late papers lose one grade step for each day late (thus a B+ that is two days late receives a B-).

3. I do not give make-up quizzes or extensions unless you have an acceptable and documented excuse (for example, a medical excuse signed by a physician).

4. I will not consider requests for incompletes without a clearly documented and acceptable reason.

5. Plagiarism is using or purchasing the words or ideas of another and passing them off as one's own work.  If a student quotes someone in an assignment, that student must use quotation marks and give a citation.  Paraphrased or borrowed ideas are to be identified by proper citations. Plagiarism will result, at the minimum, in a zero (0) for the assignment. I reserve the right to fail you for the course if I catch you plagiarizing or cheating on examinations or quizzes.


General Education:


This course fulfills the Regions Beyond Europe general education category.


All General Education Courses have the following characteristics:

1.      General education offers explicit understandings of the procedures and practices of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields.

2.      General education provides multiple perspectives on the subject matter, reflecting the intellectual and cultural diversity within and beyond the University.

3.      General education emphasizes active learning in an engaged environment that enables students to become producers as well as consumers of knowledge.

4.      General education promotes critical thinking about the assumptions, goals, and methods of various fields of academic study and the interpretive, analytic, and evaluative competencies central to intellectual development

The purpose of Regions Beyond Europe courses is to explore what makes specific cultures beyond the United States and Europe distinctive. They are organized historically so as to provide both a sense of the chronology of the culture’s development and to introduce the important topics in the study of the culture.

The goal of a Regions Beyond Europe course is to enable students to demonstrate:


1.      knowledge of the distinctive features (e.g. history, institutions, economies, societies, cultures) of one region beyond Europe or European North America.

2.      an understanding of the region from the perspective of its people(s).

3.      an ability to analyze and contextualize cultural and historical materials relevant to the region.

4.      an ability to locate and identify distinctive geographical features of the region.









8/26 (Tu)

Geographical and Methodological Orientations


8/28 (Th)

Neolithic Cultures in China

Roberts, History, pp. 1-11.

9/2 (Tu)

Legends and Archaeology in the Origins of the Chinese State: The Xia, Shang, and Western Zhou Dynasties

Keightley, “Early Civilization in China: Reflections on How It Became Chinese,” in Paul Ropp, ed. Heritage of China: Contemporary Perspectives on Chinese Civilization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp.15-54.


9/4 (Th)

Social, Economic, and Political Changes: The Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods

Roberts, pp. 11-19.

9/9 (Tu)

The Message of Confucius and his Followers

Chinese Philosophy I:

Lau, Analects excerpts.

Lau, Mencius excerpts.

Watson, Hsün Tzu excerpts.

9/11 (Th)

Taoists, Mohists, Legalists, and Others

Chinese Philosophy II:

Lau, Tao Te Ching excerpts.

Watson, Chuang Tzu excerpts.

Watson, Mo Tzu excerpts.

Watson, Han Fei tzu excerpts.

9/16 (Tu)

Discussion: The Hundred Schools of Thought

Discussion of Chinese Philosophy I and II readings.

9/18 (Th)

The Rise and Fall of the Qin Dynasty

Roberts, pp.20--26.

9/23 (Tu)

The Changing Nature of the Imperial State: The Reign of Han Wudi

Roberts, pp. 26-34.

de Bary, Sources of Chinese Tradition (SCT), pp.211-223.



9/25 (Th)

The Eastern Han and the Rise of Magnate Society

Roberts, pp. 34-39.

9/30 (Tu)



10/2 (Th)

Cultural Crisis and Aristocratic Society

Roberts, pp. 40-46.

10/7 (Tu)

Buddhism and its Arrival in China

Timothy Barrett, “Religious Traditions in Chinese Civilization: Buddhism and Taoism,” in Ropp, pp.138-163.

10/9 (Th)



10/14 (Tu)

Discussion: Buddhism in Medieval China

Edward Conze, Buddhist Scriptures excerpts.

Arthur Waley, “Mu-lien Rescues his Mother,” pp. 216-235.

Peter Gregory, “The Buddhism of the Cultured Elite,” in Donald S. Lopez, Jr., ed. Religions of China in Practice, pp.381-389.


Reading Quiz #1

10/16 (Th)

Political Innovation and the Sui Dynasty

Roberts, pp. 46-50.

10/21 (Tu)



10/23 (Th)

The Tang Imperial System

Roberts, pp. 50-60.


10/28 (Tu)

The Tang Dynasty as World Model

Roberts, pp. 60-67.

Edward Schafer, “The Glory of the T’ang,” The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T’ang Exotics, pp.7-39.


10/30 (Th)

The An Lushan Rebellion  and Decentralization in the Late Tang

Roberts, pp. 67-76.

David Graff, “The Price of Professionalism,” Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900, pp.205-226.

Bo Ju-yi, “Song of Lasting Pain” and Chen Hong, “An Account to Go with the ‘Song of Lasting Pain’”: Stephen Owen, Anthology of Chinese Literature, pp. 441-52.

11/4 (Tu)

The Rise of the Song Dynasty

Roberts, pp. 77-86.

11/6 (Th)

Intellectual Development and Political Reform in the Eleventh Century

Roberts, pp. 86-92.

SCT, pp.369-408 and 409-436.

11/11 (Tu)

The Southern Song and the Transformation of Local Society

Roberts, pp. 92-101.

Robert Foster, “Yue Fei, 1103-1141,” in Hammond, The Human Tradition in Premodern China, pp.93-110.

11/13 (Th)

Discussion: Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276

Gernet, Daily Life in China (entire).


Reading Quiz #2

11/18 (Tu)

Gender in Medieval China

Patricia Ebrey, “Women, Marriage, and the Family in Chinese History,” in Ropp, pp.197-223.



11/20 (Th)

The Neo-Confucian Challenge


11/25 (Tu)

The Mongols: The Unprecedented Empire

Roberts, pp. 101-112.

Joseph Fletcher, “The Mongols: Ecological and Social Perspectives,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 46, No. 1. (Jun., 1986), pp. 11‑50.

11/27 (Th)



12/2 (Tu)

Discussion: Six Yuan Plays

Liu Jung-en, tr. Six Yuan Plays (entire).


Reading Quiz #3

12/4 (Th)

The Founding of the Ming Dynasty

Roberts, pp. 112-122.


FINAL EXAMINATION: Wednesday, December 17, 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. in HU-123.