Fall 2019 - HIST 285 D100

Studies in History (3)

East Asian Civilization

Class Number: 4934

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Thu, 12:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 6, 2019
    Fri, 3:30–6:30 p.m.



Special topics. Breadth-Humanities.


East Asian Civilization (Fall 2019)

This course examines the cultures, societies, and politics of East Asia from ancient times to the present. The primary focus is on the history of China, Japan, and Korea, with a reference to their interactions with the rest of the world. The goal of the course is to help students develop substantial understanding of the foundations of East Asian civilization and improve their skills in critical historical analysis. Tracing the complex origins of East Asian societies, this course examines the distinct historical trajectories of East Asia in a broader transnational and comparative perspective.

Major themes include the formation of ancient cultures and their interactions, the philosophies in pre-Qin China and their legacies, the diffusion of Buddhism in East Asia and its variation, the contact between civilizations and the Silk Road, the construction of tributary systems and their transformation, the expansion of Chinese cultures and the making of “mandarinates,” the making of cities and social stratification, the rise of the Mongol Empire and its significance in world history, the East Asian maritime world and the global connection, the socio-political transformations during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the imperialism and nationalism in East Asia, and the postwar developments of culture, politics, and international relations.

We will use primary sources, film and other materials to examine East Asian people’s social life throughout the long historical process. We will also use class discussions to improve student’s skills of critical thinking. Moreover, using the example of East Asian history, I hope students could learn how to compare different societal developments, make connections between past and present, and build their own explanations and perspectives.


  • Attendance 10%
  • Participation 10%
  • One quiz 15%
  • Mid-term examination 30%
  • Final examination 35%



Charles Holcombe, A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, second edition).


Alexander Woodside, Lost Modernities: China, Vietnam, Korea, and the Hazards of World History (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2006).

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

 Timothy Brook, The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2010).

JaHyun Kim Haboush; William J. Haboush and Jisoo Kim eds., The Great East Asian War and the Birth of the Korean Nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016).

Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall, and James B. Palais, East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005).

Registrar Notes:

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