Fall 2021 - HIST 254 E100

China to 1800 (3)

Class Number: 3915

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Wed, 4:30–6:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Niping Yan



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 introduces the history of China from the Shang Dynasty to the mid-Qing period (approximately 1600 BC – 1800 AD). You are not expected to have previous knowledge of China or Chinese history. In this course, we will not only explore the internal history in the geographical space that we now call China, but also situate China in Asia and the world, investigating China’s connections to the steppe and the sea from a global perspective and also asking how these interactions shaped world history. We will also engage with various episodes of Chinese history through a broad range of textual and visual sources. This course aims to build your knowledge of China and develop your skills in reading primary sources, making critical analyses, and formulating historical arguments.

In recognition of the extra burdens posed by remote learning, the week of November 8–12 will be a reading week. Lectures and tutorials will not meet that week.


  • Attendance and participation 20%
  • First essay (primary source analysis, approximately 800 words) 20%
  • Take-home midterm exam 25%
  • Proposal for final paper (approximately 300-500 words) 10%
  • Final paper (approximately 1200-1500 words) 25%



Sarah Schneewind, An Outline History of East Asia to 1200, second edition, 2021. Open access textbook.

Other readings available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.