History 6A
Fall, 2013
Mon-Wed. 4-5:30, 3 LeConte
Michael Nylan
([email protected])
office: 3212 Dwinelle
office hours: TBA
This introductory course, designed for lower-division undergraduates with little or no
background in Chinese history, celebrates key features of early and middle-period Chinese
civilization, including its distinctive writing system, its compelling forms of historiography and
philosophy, its construction of the social and heavenly orders, and the density of its urban life in
antiquity. These features will be examined partly through the incredibly rich material record
revealed by scientific excavations (mainly since 1949) and partly through hallowed literary
traditions. Upon occasion, lectures will contrast the imperial order of early China with that of
Rome under Augustus and Hadrian, in order to highlight the diametrically opposed premises on
which these two empires operated; in a very few cases, lectures will contrast conditions in early
China with those in today's China.
Several major themes will be pursued in this course, including: the huge gap between the
"common wisdom" about China and the actualities (Orientalist fantasies and self-Orientalization
exercises); how empires ran differently in China than in the Mediterranean empires (and why it
was China that invented bureaucracy, paper, silk and ceramic technologies, and printing); how
views of human nature in early and middle-period China differ dramatically from JudaeoChristian-Islamic views, whether expressed in Confucian teachings, in Daoism, or in Buddhism;
urban life in China; gender and legal issues.
Themes introduced in the lectures (generally drawn from primary sources) will be
pursued more critically in weekly section meetings of two hours. Attendance at these sections is
therefore mandatory, and performance in section and lecture accounts for 30% of the final grade.
Active participation, not attendance, in lecture and section is necessary to earn a high grade for
your work. To encourage this, all students will submit brief "response papers" giving their
reactions to the section readings before each section meeting. In addition, both the mid-term and
final will emphasize section readings and materials discussed on the handouts given out in most
A major goal of the course is to improve students' reading and writing skills. Accordingly,
there will be two papers, which together will account for 30% of the grade:
— one of 2 pages on a primary text of your choice (10%), due by noon, Oct. 18
— one of 5-6 pages that represent a mini-research paper (20%), due by noon, Nov. 27
— extra-credit assignment (for 2.5 extra points): a one-page review of a movie, an art
object, or a documentary (on approved sheet). This assignment is designed for those who
worry too much about grades. Doing well (above a B-) on this assignment will allow you
to have a grade "cushion," so if your grade is B+, you can rise to an A-, if you have done
a good job on this assignment.
In addition, there will also be a one-page ungraded assignment that sends students to the
Berkeley Art Museum early in the term. A mid-term (for 15%) and a final examination (for 25%)
for one hour and a half complete the course. Note that make-up exams will not be given, except
in cases of documented serious illness or dire family emergency. Stress, fatigue, overwork,
conflicting appointments, and so on are not valid excuses. As there can be no exceptions to this
rule, all students are advised to carefully note the date of the two exams. Summary of grading:
attendance: 30%; first paper: 10%; second paper: 20%; mid-term: 15%; and final 25%. Where
students have made an improvement over the course of the semester, their grades will be
weighted to reflect that improvement.
Important note on plagiarism: Cases of plagiarism will result in an automatic "F" for the entire
course. Definitions of plagiarism will be handed out in section, and will also be discussed by the
GSIs. It will be assumed that every student who hands in a paper understands what plagiarism is.
If you are not sure, in section you will be handed a statement about the new honor code at UCBerkeley; it is your responsibility to understand what is required, either by asking your GSI or
asking your professor. Frankly, it is discouraging to all of us that this topic has to be broached.
Books for purchase:
Five books are to be purchased (listed in the order they will be used)
Crone, Patricia, Pre-Industrial Societies (Oxford, paper)
Loewe, Michael, Bing (Hackett, paper)
Nylan, Michael, Lives of Confucius (available as a book to buy or as a download from Amazon
Tanner, Harold M., China: a history, vol. 1 (Hackett; paper)
Watson, Burton, Zhuangzi: Basic Writings [some editions write Chuang tzu] (Columbia, paper)
Copies of these books will be put on reserve. Other materials will generally be available
electronically via bspace. Please note: None of the "also recommended" readings will be
required, let alone tested; they are given on the syllabus for informational purposes only, as
places to start exploring, if students become curious and want to pursue a given problem.
Assigned Readings:
Week 1
9/4 Introduction to the course. Why bother with history? Why bother with China?
Section meetings, as usual. To introduce each other.
Week 2
9/9 Geography, climate, and population
Lecture readings for 9/9: Mark Elvin, The Retreat of the Elephants, pp. 3-39.
9/11: Pre-industrial societies: expectations, functions, limitations
Lecture readings for 9/11: Patricia Crone, Pre-Industrial Societies, with a focus on the
Introduction plus chapters 1-3; Mark Elvin, "Empires and Their Size," The Pattern of the
Chinese Past, pp. 17-22; Tanner, China: a history, pp. 33-46.
Section readings this week: This section will review Romanization; population charts; and the
maps from Karen Wigen's The Myth of Continents; also China's environmental crisis. In
class, sections will also review "How to Read a Document."
Week 3
9/16: Approaches to history, including the "new institutionalism"; post-modern theories
Lecture readings for 9/16: Paul Veyne, Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths? chaps. 1-3 (pp.
5-38); J. Holmgren, "Myth, Fantasy, or Scholarship: Images of the Status of Women in
Traditional China," Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 6 (July, 1981), 147-70 (from
9/18: More conceptual tools: Chinese language: spoken and written
Lecture readings for 9/18: Difficult Characters, ed. Mary Erbaugh, pp. 1-51. Recommended
also: Cecilia Lindqvist, China: Empire of Living Symbols, pp. 16-35.
Section readings: Patricia Crone, Pre-Industrial Societies, chapters 4-6. Crone's chapter on
religion is unhelpful; review of Veyne. The section will cover the material in Lothar
Ledderose, Ten Thousand Things, "The System of Script," pp. 9-10, 18-23, 51-73. The only
advance preparation needed is Crone and Ledderose, pp. 51-73.
Week 4
9/23 on archaeological evidence:
Lecture readings for 9/23: Corinne Debaine-Francfort, The Search for Ancient China, pp. 13-49;
Ian Glover, "Some National, Regional, and Political Uses of Archaeology in East and
Southeast Asia," Archaeology of Asia, ed. Miriam Stark, pp. 17-21, 32 (the intervening
pages not assigned, as they are on other East Asian cultures).
9/25 Shang and Western Zhou:
Lecture readings for 9/25: selected texts from the Odes (handout will show different ways to
deploy the Odes, in the Zuo reading, in the Mawangdui reading, and in the Mao reading;
and Book of Documents ("Metal Coffer," "Counsels of Gao Yao" or the "Punishments of
Section readings: review of romanizations. Students may wish to consult the dialect map at
www.ctlwmp.cityu.edu.hk/dialects. [The key in English: red=Wu; teal=Min (Fujianese
and Taiwanese); yellow=Hakka; lavender=Yue (Cantonese); gold=Gan; rose=Xiang;
green (all of north China)=Northern Mandarin. The large pale blue areas in the northwest
and north are the "languages of fraternal peoples," according to the Chinese legend.] In
sections, students will go over additional poems from the Odes.
Week 5
9/30 Eastern Zhou, esp. Warring States
Lecture readings for 9/30: Edward Lewis, Sanctioned Violence in Early China, pp. 15-52;
Albert Dien, "Chinese Beliefs in the Afterworld," The Quest for Eternity, pp. 1-15; Henry
Rosemont, "On Knowing: praxis-guiding discourse in the Confucian Analects."
10/2 Confucius: the legend
Lecture readings for 10/2: Herbert Fingarette, Confucius: the secular as sacred, esp. chap. 1; Li
Ki: The Book of Rites (James Legge, trans.), pp. 210-11 ("The Meaning of Sacrifice"
[sections 1-5]. Also recommended: Companion to the Confucian Analects (selections;
particularly recommended are chapters 2, 4, and 5; and if you've got time, chapters 6 and
7); selections from several translations of the Analects (from the Norton Critical Edition
of the Analects, forthcoming, editor = Michael Nylan).
Section readings: Sections will read the Analects' passages to see how to tease out meaning from
them. Section participants will be encouraged to attend Nathan Sivin's lecture on
Chinese science (Oct. 3rd, in Dwinelle).
Week 6
10/7 Mencius
Lecture readings for 10/7: Outside speaker Henry Rosemont. Mencius, D.C. Lau, trans. Books
1A/1-4, 7, 1B/1, 2A/2, 6; 4B/28, 6A/8, 10, 14 (pp. 3-7; 9-16; 31-35; 38-39; 94; 127-30).
Also recommended: 4B/19; 7B/24; and David Wong, on Mencius. Do not obsess about
names here. On bspace, there will be the Introduction to the Mencius translation, which
is optional but helpful reading.
10/9 Zhuangzi
Lecture readings for 10/9: Zhuangzi: Basic Writings, Burton Watson, trans. (purchase),
Introduction, sections 1-4, 6 (pp. 1-63; 73-88).
Section readings: Victoria Tin-bor Hui, "Dynamics of International Politics" (pp. 37-53)
(beginning with "Rethinking the Hobbesian Metaphor"; to be compared with David Lai);
selections from Zuozhuan.
Week 7
10/14 Xunzi: China's Aristotle
Lecture readings for 10/14: Xunzi: On bspace, read three translations by Eric Hutton:
"Discourse on Heaven"; "Discourse on Ritual" (focus on the beginning and end); and the
opening passage of "Human Nature is Bad." NB: your teacher would say "Human Nature
is Ugly," because if it were inherently evil, that would mean it cannot be improved. Also
recommended: Nylan, "The Politics of Pleasure," Asia Major14.1 (2003), 73-124
10/16 Han Feizi
Lecture readings for 10/16: Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings, Burton Watson, trans., Introduction;
"Way of the Ruler," and "Difficulties of Persuasion" (pp. 1-20, 73-79).
Section readings: in-class debate. 2-page paper due 10/18, by noon.
Week 8
10/21 Qin and Han: the first empire & Sima Qian, China's greatest historian (no question!)
Lecture readings for 10/21: Two chapters By Sima Qian, that on Bo Yi and Shu Qi [Po Yi and
Shu Ch'i in Wade-Giles romanization]. Also recommended: DeBaine-Francfort, The
Search for Ancient China, pp. 89-127, on Qin and Han art (mostly pictures). Also
recommended: Brian McKnight, The Quality of Mercy, pp. 12-36.
10/23 Han (continued)
Lecture readings for 10/23: Michael Loewe, Bing: from farmer's son to magistrate in Han
China; Wang Bao [Pao in Wade-Giles], "Contract for a Youth," Columbia Anthology of
Literature, pp. 510-13; Nylan, "Families in the Classical Era," The Family Model in
Chinese Art and Culture, pp. 143-58: Nylan, Lives of Confucius, chap. 3. First review
Mark Elvin, "Empires and Their Size," The Pattern of the Chinese Past, pp. 17-22.
Section readings: Tanner, China: a history, pp. 83-130; and, on Eastern Han-Six Dynasties
Daoism: Mark Csikszentmihalyi, Readings in Han Chinese Thought, pp. 57-93, 156-66;
Tao Qian, "Peach Blossom Spring," Columbia Anthology of Literature, pp. 578-80; Tao
Qian, two poems on returning to dwell in the country, in Cyril Birch, ed. Anthology of
Chinese Literature, 182-83. Also recommended: Stephen Field, Ancient Chinese
Divination, chaps 4-7 (pp. 63-130).
Week 9
10/28 Early Religious Daoism
Lecture readings for 10/28: T.H. Barrett, "Religious Change under Eastern Han and its
Successors," China's Early Empires, pp. 430-448; Shih-shan Susan Huang, Picturing the
True Form: Daoist Visual Culture in Traditional China, pp. 7-85 (lots of pictures!).
10/30 Buddhism
Lecture readings for 10/30: Please read on your own a new Buddhist translation of the Platform
Sutra by Marty Verhoeven and others; Paul Kroll, "Huilin's 'Bai Hei lun" (extract); plus
"The Quest of Mulian," in Classical Chinese Literature, eds. Minford and Lau, pp. 10881110. Also recommended: Peter Hershock, Chan Buddhism, pp. 7-109 (stop after
"Huineng" and before "Mazu").
Section readings and exercises: first hour meet as usual; second hour in the Berkeley Art
Week 10
11/4 MIDTERM in class.
11/06 Sui-Tang:
Lecture readings for 11/06: Han Yu, "Memorial on the Bone of the Buddha," "Discourse on
Teachers"; Emperor Wuzong's Edict on the Suppression of Buddhism," both in Sources
of Chinese Tradition, pp. 372-75, 379-382; Tanner, China: a history, pp. 167-198.
Section readings: Craig Clunas, Art in China, "Early Buddhist Art" (pp. 89-112).Charles Benn,
China's Golden Age, chaps. 2-3 (pp. 19-69) plus one other chapter of your choice, from
"Houses and Gardens," "Food and Feast," etc. Also recommended: S. Adshead, T'ang
Dynasty, chaps. 1-5 (on bspace for reference).
November 11: official vacation
November 13: Time with Corliss Lee, reference librarian in the library, for research. NO
additional lecture readings; by section, required session on finding and devising a miniresearch paper topic. Attendance will be taken; no additional reading is required. Research paper
is due by noon, Nov. 27.
Week 12
11/18 on urban life
Lecture readings for 11/18: Tang Xiaofeng, unpublished ms.; Linda Rui Feng, "Negotiating
Vertical Space," Tang Studies 29 (2011), 27-44; and selections on Song urbanism from Jacques
Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion and others. Also recommended is
Ennin's Diary (selections).
11/20 on poetry and painting:
Lecture readings for 11/20, covering the Six Dynasties-Song: selections from The Anchor Book
of Chinese Poetry, pp.75-84; Wang Wei, pp. 99-129; Du Fu, pp. 142-150; Arthur Waley,
Translations from the Chinese, on Bo Juyi [Wade-Giles, Po Chü-i], pp. 126-42; on Yuan
Chen and Su Shi and others, pp. 297-98, 314-25: Three Thousand Years of Chinese
Painting, pp. 59-137. (possibly a guest speaker)
Section readings: Hui-Shu Lee, "Imperial Women and the Art of Writing," Empresses, Art, and
Agency in Song China, pp. 70-117 [This chapter speaks of Tang-Song calligraphy and
painting.]. Papers due next week, before Thanksgiving vacation, before noon, Nov.
Week 13:
12/02 Song
Lecture readings for 12/02, On the Reform Movements by Cheng Hao, Wang Anshi, and others,
Sources of Chinese Tradition, pp. 398-435; Lives of Confucius, chap. 4.
12/04 Song
Lecture readings for 12/04: Patricia Ebrey, "The Book of Filial Piety for Women" Under
Confucian Eyes, pp 47-69; Stephen Owen, "The Snares of Memory," Remembrances: the
experience of the past in Chinese classical literature, pp. 80-99; Christian de Pee, The
Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China, pp. 104-36; Zhu Xi, on "Reading," from de
Bary, Sources of Chinese History, vol. 1.
Section readings: Tanner, China: a history, pp. 201-34; Mark Elvin, The Pattern of the Chinese
Past, "The Revolution in Farming" and "The Revolution in Money and Credit" (pp. 11330, 146-63).
Week 14:
Then the final exam!

History 6A - Department of History, UC Berkeley