Fall 2019 - HIST 254 D100

China to 1800 (3)

Class Number: 4844

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2019
    Thu, 3:30–6:30 p.m.



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 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. The goal of the course is to help students develop substantial understanding of the foundations of Chinese society and improve their skills in critical historical analysis. Challenging the once prevailing view of imperial China as “static,” “backward,” and “despotic,” this course discusses a wide array of factors and dynamics that shaped and changed the geocultural space that we call “China.” It examines both domestic and global forces behind the formation of Chinese society and explores the complex interactions between socio-political actors within and without China Proper.

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. We will also use tutorials to improve student’s skills of historical thinking and class discussion. Moreover, by the end of semester, I hope students could learn not only the long history of China but also how it helps us understand our life and the present world.


  • Attendance (lecture & tutorial) 7.5%
  • Participation (lecture & tutorial) 7.5%
  • Tutorial assignments 5%
  • Mid-term examination 25%
  • Final examination 40%
  • Quiz 15%



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


Patricia Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 

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

R. Keith Schoppa, Song Full of Tears: Nine Centuries of Chinese Life Around Xiang Lake (New York: Basic Books, 2002).

Timothy Brook, The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999).

Timothy Brook, Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World (London: Profile Books, 2009).

Registrar Notes:

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