Mahlon D. Meyer
Political, social, economic, and intellectual history form the time of the Mongol conquest of China to the Sino-Japanese war. Focus on the evolution of the late imperial Chinese state and the "early modern" era in China.
The course covers Late Imperial China, starting with the dynasty established by the Mongols as they consolidated their rule over Asia. It continues with a focus on the Ming dynasty, which many historians believe is a foreshadow of the People's Republic of China in many ways, including economic development. Finally, the course looks at the Manchu invasion and the perfection of the institutions of government under the Qing dynasty. The fall of imperial China is linked to the success of the Manchus and their Chinese officials in feeding more people than ever and doubling the population, causing problems such as scarcity of resources that are still unresolved today. At the same time, this period of Chinese history is being rewritten and understood in new ways so the course will also involve historiography, evaluating different ways of using history.
Student learning goals
Be familiar with the major events and significance of the Late Imperial period of China.
Have a working knowledge of the conceptuality of the times, how it changed and developed.
Develop a command of working with primary sources, specifically first-hand sources from this period, including literature, history and propaganda.
Learn to use primary materials in new contexts, such as writing fictional memoirs or "counterfactuals," that make use of traditional historical methods and rigor but expand the application of sources.
Gain exposure to underlying themes that run through Chinese history as a whole and examine the variations on these themes in specific historical contexts.
General method of instruction
Lecture, discussion, class activities, papers.
It would be best if the student had some background in historical writing, but the instructor runs the History Writing Center and is available to help with learning the format of a standard history essay. An interest in Chinese history.
Class assignments and grading
Participate in discussions and class activities, write several papers in ways and on topics of interest to students, prepare presentations or other activities.
Class participation, paper writing -- based on use of sources, experimentation within a format, argument and creative analysis -- participation in other activities.