New Course in East Asian History
"China and the World: From Empire to Nation"
In different historical times, either occupying a central position of East Asia or being marginalized by the modern international system, China never ceased keeping an intricate relationship with the outside world. There were times when power holders in China did not differentiate “domestic” from “foreign” affairs, when China conducted fragmented “frontier policies” but had no “foreign policies,” and when China claimed a layered imperial domain but did not exercise state sovereignty defined by international boundaries. In its many life cycles, China engaged its foreign counterparts as a civilization, an empire, and a national state. All these elements of China’s international past are relevant to our understanding of China’s “rise” today.
This colloquium is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. It examines Chinese perspectives, practices, and interactions with other states in the international scene from Western Zhou to the People’s Republic of China. Students read scholarly works and discuss a series of recurring issues in China’s historical relations with other states, such as “centrality” and “unification,” “race” and “status,” “tributary” and “trade,” “war” and “peace,” “nation” and “empire,” “rise” and “development,” and so on. Evaluation of the student is based on participation, weekly written responses, and a historiographical essay.
Introductory Seminar in History
"The Ocean in History"
Undeterred by the absence of information about Malaysian Airlines flight 370, news commentators chose a likely participant in its disappearance -- the oceans, which, they reported with alarm, are very large and very deep. Coverage often took on a scandalized tone: even in this day and age, things and people can be lost at sea.
This course examines those bodies of water that are very large and very deep and their role in human history. We will move thematically from oceans as places of myth and magic to oceans as places of migration (both forced and voluntary) to oceans as a source of economic prosperity. Using a combination of primary sources and scholarly commentaries, we will examine the ocean both as something that had to be mastered through exploration and technology and as a cultural presence that figured in songs, stories, and religion. Finally, we will discuss contemporary attitudes toward the ocean. When we consider films like Finding Nemo, fantasy cruises, Shark Week, and the coverage of oil spills, sea ice, and even unexplained airline disasters, what impressions of the ocean will emerge?
During the semester, students will be introduced to different approaches to writing history and to different types of scholarly writing through reading assignments and papers, including a book review, historiographical essay, and the analysis of primary sources. Students are expected to come prepared to participate in class discussion.