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HSTAS 211 A: History of Chinese Civilization

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
* *
Professor Matthew Mosca
Matthew W. Mosca

Syllabus Description:

Zoom link for weekly office hours drop-in discussion (each Thursday, 12:30pm-1:20pm): (Meeting ID: 917 5767 5772)


This course will be offered online, asynchronously. Students will not be required to be online at a specific time.

How This Online Course Works

This course is designed to replicate as far as possible, within the framework of an asynchronous online course, the level of engagement with course material that would occur in an in-person class.

There are two basic elements to this course: historical content (people, dates, events, etc.), and primary source interpretation.

Historical content is conveyed in two forms: textbook and lecture.  Each class has an assigned textbook reading and lecture video.  Textbook readings and lectures are designed to complement each other; although some of their content will overlap, students should both do the reading and watch the lecture video for each class.  Videos will be available prior to the scheduled lecture time. Although students do not need to be online at any specific time, in order to stay on schedule please complete the assigned textbook reading and lecture video by the end of the day for which they are assigned.  In addition to the textbook and video lectures, short handouts will be uploaded for each class to highlight some of the key events and historical concepts and figures for the period in question.  Handouts are provided solely to help review course material.

Each class will have one or more primary source readings assigned.  Primary sources are direct historical evidence produced in the period being studied (the primary sources used in this class have of course been translated into English).  Your goal is to read these primary sources carefully and interpret them.  Your interpretation of primary source evidence should draw on textbook and lecture content, the introduction to each primary source written by a modern historian, and/or other assigned primary sources.

Class assignments, detailed below, will assess both knowledge of historical content and knowledge of primary sources, with an emphasis on the latter because interpreting primary sources and using primary source evidence to build an argument represents a higher order of historical analysis than memorizing names, facts, and dates (although of course knowing the historical context is crucial to interpreting primary sources).

This course is asynchronous: Students do not need to be online at any particular time, although assignments must of course be uploaded by their deadlines.  During the second scheduled lecture session each week, Thursdays from 12:30-2:20pm, I will be available on Zoom for office hours.  For the first hour, I will discuss the primary sources and course content on a drop-in basis; I hope multiple students will participate in these sessions (they will not be recorded).  Students can come by for the whole hour, or ask a question and depart.  During the second hour, I will be available on an appointment basis.  Please e-mail the instructor to set up an appointment (standard slot will be 15 minutes).  Participation in office hours is completely optional, and will have no impact on course grade.  However, it does represent an opportunity to have a live discussion of course content with the instructor, ask questions, gain additional context, etc.  It also represents a chance to meet and talk with your fellow students.  For that reason, students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of office hours.

Guidance to Students Taking Remote Courses Outside the United States

Faculty members at U.S. universities including the University of Washington have the right to academic freedom which includes presenting and exploring topics and content that other governments may consider to be illegal and, therefore, choose to censor. Examples may include topics and content involving religion, gender and sexuality, human rights, democracy and representative government, and historic events. If, as a UW student, you are living outside of the United States while taking courses remotely, you are subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction. Local authorities may limit your access to course material and take punitive action towards you. Unfortunately, the University of Washington has no authority over the laws in your jurisdictions or how local authorities enforce those laws.If you are taking UW courses outside of the United States, you have reason to exercise caution when enrolling in courses that cover topics and issues censored in your jurisdiction. If you have concerns regarding a course or courses that you have registered for, please contact your academic advisor who will assist you in exploring options.

**Note: With regard to course content, HSTAS 211 will be offered exactly as it would be in person on the UW campus. No accommodations will be offered permitting students to avoid any element of course content based on their location. Students currently located within the People's Republic of China are strongly encouraged to consider taking the course in the future when they have returned to the UW campus. All aspects of the course will be offered via Canvas. Students unable to access Canvas from their current location are strongly encouraged to take the course in the future when they have returned to the UW campus.

Course Description

This course surveys Chinese history from the earliest periods to the present, examining political, social, cultural, and economic developments. It concentrates on long-term historical patterns, the diversity of historical experience within China, and major changes of internal and external origin. Students will become familiar with some of the major trends, events, and individuals shaping Chinese history, and learn to analyze and interpret a range of primary sources.

Learning Objectives
Students completing this course will learn to:
a). explain the significance of key historical concepts, developments, and figures in Chinese history
b). interpret primary sources
c). evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different historical interpretations
d). present their own perspectives in the form of coherent arguments, based on evidence and expressed in academic prose

Required Textbooks
Patricia Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China, 2nd Ed. (2010) ISBN: 978-0521124331
Ida Pruitt, A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman (1945)

Textbooks are available via the UW Bookstore.  They can also be purchased online.  Note that A Daughter of Han has been published by multiple publishers, with different covers and ISBN numbers.  Any edition will be fine.

For other readings, consult full syllabus.

Catalog Description: 
Intensive survey of Chinese civilization from earliest times to today. Introduces all students, including East Asian history majors, to the general sweep of Chinese history. Social, cultural, and intellectual developments.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 28, 2020 - 4:50am