Week 8: Oct. 16 and Oct. 18

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

Wednesday Oct. 16

  • Textbook: Hansen, Valerie, The Open Empire: “Chapter 5: China’s Golden Age” part 2: pp. 184-199.
  • Secondary source: Schafer, Edward H. The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T’ang Exotics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963.(Ebook,Trexler)
          • Everybody reads Chapter 1 “The Glory of T’ang”
                • Possible questions to ponder: What are your impressions of Tang China, based on this chapter? What are some of the reasons people may think of the Tang dynasty as “cosmopolitan”? (Note that Schafer does not use that term) What does the term “cosmopolitan” mean to you? How does the use of that term affect the study of Tang history (and its foreign relations)?
          • You are also assigned a single chapter from the book, check your name in the list below. Take note of the item that seemed most fascinating to you in that chapter, and explain in class what it is, and why you wanted to draw our attention to it. If you have a partner (for the longer chapters): coordinate and don’t pick the same object/animal.

Corinne: 2: Men
Alex and Nik: 3: Domestic Animals
Rose: 4: Wild Animals
Jack: 5: Birds
Cundao: 6: Furs and Feathers
Ryan: 7: Plants
Jonas: 8: Woods
Amanda: 9: Foods
Erin: 10: Aromatics
Sam and Chase: 11: Drugs
Brandin: 12: Textiles
Bianca: 13: Pigments
Florry: 14: Industrial minerals
Lauren and Dylan: 15: Jewelry
Abby: 16: Metals
Zoe: 17: Secular objects
Tristin: 18: Sacred objects

Slides (Gdrive link)

Friday, Oct. 18:

  • Textbook: Hansen, Open Empire. Chapter 6 “: pp. 200-215.
  • Primary sources:
      • Kroll, Paul. “The Flight from the Capital and the Death of the Precious Consort Yang.” In T’ang Studies 3 (1985). (PDF)
      • “Interlude: Xuan-zong and Yang the Prized Consort”. In An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911. Edited and translated by Stephen Owen, 441ff. New York: Norton, 1996. (PDF)

The rebellion of An Lushan came as a shock, and served as a catalyst for many changes in the political, social and economic sphere. The events surrounding the rebellion have been romanticized ever since it happened, and Precious Consort Yang (Yang guifei) has for centuries served as a convenient scape goat. Let’s look at what makes this such a powerful story which transcends the ages and inspired artists and writers across East Asia. Paul Kroll’s text is a translation of a historical source written in the 11th century; the Interlude is a selection of literary works (“based on real events”, as Hollywood would say now). Where do these two types of sources differ? Where do they overlap? And what do both of them mean for our understanding of this particular event in Tang/Chinese history?

Slides (Gdrive link)