Fall 2015 - HIST 254 D100

China to 1800 (3)

Class Number: 5937

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2015: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 17, 2015
    Thu, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Weiting Guo



This course offers a broad survey of the history of China from antiquity to the eve of its modern transformations at the turn of the nineteenth century. It aims to challenge the perception of an unchanging China and to encourage students to develop a critical understanding of the forces integrating and dividing this geo-cultural unit. Breadth-Humanities.


This course explores the history of China from the earliest times to the mid-Qing dynasty. The goal of the course is to help students develop substantial understanding of the origins and foundations of Chinese society and improve their skills in critical historical analysis. Challenging the once prevailing view of imperial China as “static,” this course will discuss both domestic and global dynamics that shaped and changed the geocultural space that we call “China” and constructed its distinct trajectory. A number of important themes will be highlighted in the class, including the formation of “Chinese civilization,” the state-building process, the evolution of bureaucracy, religious beliefs and cultural values, lineages and social organizations, and local governance and social conflict. We will use primary sources, film and other materials to examine how Chinese people experienced and understood their social life throughout the long historical process.


  • Participation & tutorial assignments 20%
  • Four quiz 20%
  • Mid-term examination 25%
  • Final examination 35%



Valerie Hansen, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800, 2nd edition (New York: W W Norton & Co Inc, 2015).

Additional readings will be made available online.


Patricia Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Patricia Ebrey, ed., Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook (New York: The Free Press, 1993).

Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China, 3rd edition (New York: W W Norton & Co Inc, 2012).

Valerie Hansen, Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China: How Ordinary People Used Contracts, 600-1400 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).

Registrar Notes:

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