Project Wellspring

Di Luo's Teaching Portfolio

Introduction to East Asian Civilizations


Course Description

This course investigates the history of East Asia from the beginning to 1800. It focuses on three major civilizations–China, Korea, and Japan–in the attempt to reveal the economic growth, cultural development, political changes, social conditions and transformations, and intellectual traditions of premodern East Asia as well as its great achievements and legacies in the arts and humanities. Meanwhile, emphasis will be given to the exchange of goods and ideas within East Asia, and to the connections of East Asia to other parts of the world especially Central Asia and Europe.

The materials to be covered in this course encompass historical documents, literary works, maps, and various types of visual evidence. Topics include material culture of the Bronze Age, Confucianism and state policies, Buddhism and its diffusion in East Asia, China in periods of unification and division, the invention of the Korean alphabet, the Mongol conquest in East Asia, samurai and tea ceremony in Japan, the importation of Western techniques and ideas, and so forth.

Course Objectives

  1. General understanding of the cultural, political, and social history of premodern East Asia.
  2. Familiarity with key terms and concepts associated with East Asian civilizations.
  3. Development of a comparative mind when investigating aspects of different cultures.
  4. Development of the ability of analytic writing.


  • Attendance and participation, 10%
  • Analytic paper 1 (6 pages),  20%
  • Analytic paper 2 (6 pages), 20%
  • Midterm exam, 20%
  • Final exam, 30%

Required Texts

  1. Ebrey, Patricia,  Anne Walthall, and James Palais. 2006. Pre-Modern East Asia: To 1800. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  2. De Bary, Wm. Theodore, ed. 2008. Sources of East Asian Tradition. Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press.


1 Introduction
2 Prehistory of East Asia

Ebrey, 3-9.

3 Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties

Ebrey, 10-24.
De Bary, 13-21.

4 Axial Age: Thinkers and Sage Kings

Ebrey, 25-42.
De Bary, 22-28.

5 Confucius & Confucianism

De Bary, 29-40, 69-105.

6 Daoism

De Bary, 49-68, 217-22.

7 Qin and Han: China Unified

Ebrey, 43-70.
De Bary, 126-30.

8 From Legalism to the Great Syncretism

De Bary, 106-25, 131-51.

9 Buddhism in the Age of Division

Ebrey, 71-87.
De Bary, 223-37.

10 Schools of Buddhist Philosophy and Practice

De Bary, 240-59, 264-87.

Analytic paper 1 due
11 Sui and Tang China

Ebrey, 88-110, 112-15.
De Bary, 290-307.

12 Early Korea

Ebrey, 116-36.
De Bary, 485-532.

13 Early Japan

Ebrey, 137-52.
De Bary, 621-83.

14 Rival regimes in China: Song, Liao, Jin, Xi Xia

Ebrey, 153-75.

15 Midterm Review
16 Midterm Exam
17 Neo-Confucianism

De Bary, 308-86.

18 Koryo Dynasty

Ebrey, 176-91.
De Bary, 543-62.

19 Heian Japan

Ebrey, 192-207.
De Bary, 684-736.

20 Kamakura Japan

Ebrey, 208-24.
De Bary, 754-800.

Analytic paper 2 due
21 Mongol Conquest in East Asia

Ebrey, 225-51.
De Bary, 387-93.

22 Japan in the Muromachi and Momoyama Periods

Ebrey, 252-68.
De Bary, 815-62.

23 Ming China

Ebrey, 269-89.
De Bary, 394-401.

24 Learning of the Mind-and-Heart

De Bary, 428-70.

25 Early Choson Korea

Ebrey, 290-306.
De Bary, 563-81.

26 Qing China and the Encounter with the West

Ebrey, 308-30.

27 Edo Japan

Ebrey, 331-47.

28 Late Choson Korea

Ebrey, 348-64.
De Bary, 582-605.

29 Final Review
30 Final Exam


This entry was posted on April 6, 2016 by in syllabus and tagged , , , , , , .


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