Special Note on Creating a Virtual Community: In order to minimize the spread of Covid-19, this course will be taught online via Zoom, a high-quality video conferencing platform that will allow us to create a virtual classroom that closely approximates the experience of meeting in a physical space. One way to contribute to the success of our virtual classroom is to keep your camera turned on during class sessions. While this may be a little uncomfortable at first, our willingness to be “present” for each other will help us establish a learning community that is based on mutual trust and respect. If you have any concerns about this policy, please reach out to me as soon as possible so that we can discuss your situation and develop an alternate strategy if necessary.
Cardinal Operation Hope and Help: A community begins when a group of people come together to pursue a common interest, but to truly flourish there must be a shared sense of concern for the well-being of all its members. Toward this end, the North Central community has established Cardinal Operation Hope and Help to provide emergency financial support for students with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and educational supplies. To explore details of the program as well as eligibility requirements, please click the above link — and feel free to let me know how I can help you overcome any challenges you are facing.
Zoom Recordings: Class sessions in this course may be recorded in order to provide increased accessibility to course content for all students, including those who have been granted permission to record or require temporary or ongoing remote access. Recorded content may be used like class notes to support learning outcomes for the course, but may not be shared with anyone who is not a registered student in this class. Students may not upload recorded content to file-sharing sites, post them to the web or on social media, provide them to journalists, or use them in any way that has not been specifically approved above.
IntroductionAn examination of China’s transformation from the “traditional” society of the dynastic period (c. 2000 BCE to 1911) into the “modern” nation that has emerged in the twenty-first century.
Blackboard QuestsIn order to encourage you to keep up with the readings and periodically review the material that we’ve covered, there will be seven “quests” (somewhere between a quiz and a test) spread throughout the semester. The quests are worth 5% each and will include a variety of questions (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, short answer, etc.) to be completed on Blackboard within a two-day period (see syllabus for dates). Each quest will have a 20-minute time limit, which should be long enough to search for some of the answers in the readings or on the course web pages … but once your quest begins there’s no turning back — so be ye prepared lest your time runneth out!
Writing AssignmentsIn 210 BCE, the Second Qin Emperor (Qin Er Shi) was enthroned at the age of twenty-one following the death of his father, the First Emperor of China (Qin Shihuangdi). According to the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian), the Second Emperor was placed on the throne by the Prime Minister Li Si and the Chief Eunuch Zhao Gao, who manipulated the line of succession for their own benefit and in the process destabilized the dynasty and contributed to its collapse a few years later. However, what if Li Si and Zhao Gao had been challenged by a brilliant official with the capacity to teach the Second Emperor the proper Way of the Ruler and thereby stabilize the dynasty? For your first assignment, you will be that brilliant official, writing a detailed “memorial” to the Second Emperor that (i) identifies the causes of the Zhou dynasty’s failure; (ii) explains the reasons for the First Emperor’s success; and (iii) establishes a new ideology that will secure the dynasty for ten thousand generations. Since the First Emperor implemented a Legalist polity, you will need to decide whether to advocate for continuing this approach without modification or to temper/replace it with one of the other political solutions of the period, such as Confucianism or Daoism. You should also indicate whether you would maintain the centralized rule of the First Emperor or restore (partially or fully) the type of “feudalism” that prevailed during the Zhou dynasty. For grading details, see the Essay 1 Rubric below.
There are three essays in this course, each of which must be a minimum of 1500 words (approximately six pages) with references to at least five academic/peer-reviewed sources using Chicago Style footnotes. Papers should be submitted to Blackboard/Assignments before class on the assigned due date; late papers will be penalized a full grade (e.g. from A to B) for the first day and one degree (e.g. from B to B-) thereafter. Papers that contain significant instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs. All submitted work may be randomly selected for program assessment (with names removed); although this will in no way impact your course grade, you may opt out of program assessment by notifying Professor Hoffert by email.
Memorial to the Second Qin Emperor
Essay 2Although China has one of the richest historical traditions in the world, history textbooks typically focus on the major historical figures and the events with which they are associated — the so-called “Great Tradition”. In A Daughter of Han, however, we get a fascinating glimpse of the “Small Tradition” through the oral autobiography of Mrs. Ning (as recounted by Ida Pruitt), an ordinary, low-income urban woman who lived during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For your second essay you will explore one of the prominent themes in A Daughter of Han by using “secondary sources” (i.e. works that interpret and analyze information that was originally presented elsewhere, such as in “primary sources” like A Daughter of Han) to augment Mrs. Ning’s first-person accounts. Some of the themes you may wish to focus on include missionaries, Chinese religion and/or folk beliefs, opium, medicine, the Japanese, government, marriage, and gender. Since A Daughter of Han does not have an index, you should take careful notes as you read through the book, especially on the theme that you intend to focus on. For grading details, see the Essay 2 Rubric below.
A Daughter of Han
Son of the Revolution
The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) represents a pivotal era in the history of modern China. On the one hand, it was the most radical of Mao Zedong’s attempts to radically transform Chinese society, while on the other, it was immediately followed by Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, which transformed China just as deeply by ushering in decades of rapid economic growth. Your third paper will use Liang Heng’s autobiography, Son of the Revolution, together with appropriate secondary sources, to explore an aspect of the Cultural Revolution and its impact on China’s subsequent development. Some of the themes you may wish to focus on include Mao’s rejection of capitalism (in contrast to Deng Xiaoping’s promotion of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”), Mao Zedong Thought, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (a.k.a. the Little Red Book), the Cult of Mao, People’s Communes, the People’s Liberation Army, Red Guards, the Four Olds (old customs, culture, habits, and ideas), Big Character Posters, class struggle (directed primarily against the bourgeoisie), self-criticism and public ridicule, the “Down to the Countryside” movement, propaganda, corruption, and education. For grading details, see the Essay 3 Rubric below.
Virtual Office Hours/Contact Info
I will be available online (via Zoom) at the following times:
Monday 4:30-5:30 ● Tuesday 3:30-5:00 ● Thursday 3:30-5:00 ● Friday (Tea): 4:30-5:00
Home Page: bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu
Essay 1 Rubric
Memorial to the Second Qin Emperor
Essay 2 Rubric
A Daughter of Han
Essay 3 Rubric
Son of the Revolution