Week 3 (Sept. 13 – Sept. 19)

Table of contents

To do and Schedule of the Week


Have you set up Hypothes.is and joined the group HST269 yet? If not, make sure to do so! You will use Hypothes.is starting soon to give feedback on your fellow students’ work on their blog. Remember to use Google Chrome for the best results. Details on how to set up Hypothes.is: scroll down in last week Tuesday’s to-do list.

Here are some additional useful tutorials from Hypothes.is, if the info provided isn’t enough yet:

By Sunday, 11:59PM

On Thursday in class you had a first stab at thinking about a possible topic for a first project, and you will receive/have received some additional suggestions from me. Now write a blog post with more details. You can use the following questions to provide a more information and dig deeper. Once again, this will help me to help you, as we may not be able to find the perfect match but with more information like this, I can redirect your curiosity to a more fruitful area. Or I may be able to direct you to something surprising but even more interesting than your initial idea, based on what I learn here!

  • What attracts you to this topic? Where did the idea come from? What’s the (secret?) passion that brought you to this idea?
  • Do you have any connection through previous courses you took (e.g. your major, or in your high school)
  • Is there a book, documentary, or online source that inspired you or planted a seed?
  • What is it that makes you want to spend more time finding out more details about a topic that others may write off as boring, eccentric, niche? Curiosity is key!

How: Write a blog post of 200-400 words; it does not have to be about specifics of Chinese history yet, but if something in the course or in a quick search so far sparked your imagination, do include it (hyperlinks!). Add it to category HST269 on your blog, so it will appear on the blog stream and in my workflow.

TIP: You can add an image to brighten your post! In addition to Google image, there are also copy-right free, public-domain images available through Trexler Library: https://libraryguides.muhlenberg.edu/open/images.

TIP: Don’t just write and post straight away. Instead, take the time to write a draft, maybe use the freewrite method to hash out your initial ideas, and rewrite to clarify your thoughts and restructure in a more logical sequence. You can draft and rewrite in Word or Google Docs, and then copy-paste to WordPress and tidy up the formatting.

By Tuesday, 3:30PM

We will gather in Trexler Library B01. Kelly Cannon will guide us through an exercise to help you separate the wheat from the chaff in Chinese history materials (and what to do with everything in between), and we’ll discuss where to start with looking for good, reliable sources for your projects this semester. It’s a wild world out there for Chinese history!

The exercise has you look more close at Empress Wu (or actually: Emperor Wu!). She is the only woman to claim the title of Huangdi, or emperor, without hiding behind a man on the throne. She’s a controversial figure in Chinese history, and you’ve already encountered her very briefly in Hansen’s reading for last week Thursday.

  1. Check which group you are in, using the Spreadsheet
  2. Go to our brand new Subject Guide for the course, and read the article you’re assigned
    • Reflect on your assigned source: what if anything makes it authoritative on the subject of Empress Wu? What if anything detracts from it being an authoritative source? In short: strengths and weaknesses.
      • TIP: as always, it’s a good idea to write this down, just in case your brain decides to take a break during class and you can’t access that awesome info you came up with earlier! (Is it just my brain that does that??)
    • You may collaborate with the people in your group in advance.
    • Bring a large-screen device: your phone won’t do! You will be searching through the catalog and saving your results.

NOTE: If you have done this type of exercise already multiple times and feel it’s a waste of your time, talk with me: there are other things to learn about finding sources for Chinese history. Let’s up your game, not waste your time!

Thursday: No Class

Sunday, 11:59PM

Blog post: project pitch: start zoning in on a topic for your first project:

  • What is the topic? Are you expanding on your previous idea, or following a completely different path after an initial exploration of the catalog and library resources? How is your idea evolving from a first glimpse of a thought to a more concrete idea?
  • What are the search terms you propose to use to explore the library catalog and other resources?
  • Do those reveal any scholarly resources? Don’t forget to list them!
  • What kind of format are you thinking about? You can be creative, or more scholarly. As long as the project can be shared with your fellow students even if they can’t make it to class (e.g. presentations/performances/exhibitions –> we’ll record them for our archive)
  • HOW: submit as a blog post, in category HST269

Note: this exercise does not mean you are locked into this topic; likely it will change a bit as you find out in later stages what materials are available, and as you get more feedback from me.

Remember I am also a resource to help you frame a project or find a different focus, and to point you to further materials. It is my job, I get paid to do this. And I really love helping students with fine-tuning their projects!

Remember: A good project cannot be rushed, and you need to give yourself time to make sure it’s feasible. I have seen students create amazing projects, without knowing the first thing about Chinese history when they first started any of my courses. But they all had two things in common: they did not rush their projects, worked on them steadily over the course of a few weeks, and incorporated feedback every step of the way. And they also picked a topic they were genuinely interested in and curious about, so they wanted to spend time with it.

"You can't rush art" classic meme from Pixar's Toy Story 3
But you still need to create/write every day (Source)

Where to get help