Week 7: Oct. 11

Please complete your assignments (check here) for the end of week 6, by 6pm Wed. Oct. 9

Note: no class on Wednesday

Fri. Oct. 11:

REMINDER: Access to PDFs: find the username and password on the Canvas homepage

Carrying over from Fri. Oct. 4: wrapping up the “Period of Division”

  • “Ballad of Mulan”. In An Anthology of Chinese Literature : Beginnings to 1911, translated and edited by Stephen Owen, 241-43. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.(PDF)
          • This is the oldest known version of the “Ballad of Mulan”, set in the Northern Wei. (The Disney movie was only the last in a long series of different interpretations of how the story was molded and retold over the centuries to suit the particular needs of a time period.) What can you learn about life during the Northern Wei from this ballad? What appears to you to be representative of the northern nomadic traditions (of the Xianbei), and are there indications that this culture has absorbed elements of its Chinese surroundings?
  • Look back on the materials associated with Chapter 4, and the issues discussed. What are the ideas, concepts, names you think we should remember for the remainder of our journey through Chinese history?

Sui and early Tang dynasty:

After more than three centuries without a centralized government, north and south were finally re-united under the (northern) Sui dynasty, which quickly made place for China’ “Golden Age”. We will look at the law/legal code, which was influential throughout East Asia until long after the demise of the Tang dynasty in 907 CE.

  • Textbook: Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800Chapter 5- part 1: “China’s Golden Age” (pp. 173-184)
            • How is the empire brought together? What are the challenges?
  • Primary Sources:
    • Wu Jing. The Essentials of Governance of the Reign of Constancy Revealed (Zhenguan zhengyao). Texts in the History of Political Thought. Edited and translated by Hilde De Weerdt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming (2020). [Selection] (PDF)
    • “The Great Tang Code.” In Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1: From Earliest Times to 1600. 2nd edition, 546-552. Edited by Wm Th. de Bary and Irene Bloom. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1999. (PDF)
            • Both texts talk about punishment, crime, legal code. The first is a collection of anecdotes about emperor Tang Taizong and the many (often idealized) interactions with his ministers; the second is from the Tang legal code. The author of the preface was one of the trusted advisors of Tang Taizong.
            • How do the texts deal with the two different traditions which influenced Chinese ideas about crime, punishment and order in society: the fajia (legalists) and the ru (Confucianists). Do you see other influences?
            • What parellels or contradictions do you see between the Essentials (source 1) and the principles underlying the Tang Code (source 2)?
    • Google form for timeline and map entry points for this class.
    • Slides (Gdrive link)