HIST 260 Logo
Introduction
An 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.
 
The distribution of grades for the course is as follows:
 
10% Class Participation
30% Blackboard Quests (3x10%)
60% Essays (3x20%)
 
You final grade will ultimately depend on my assessment of your performance in each of the above areas, though the following descriptions should provide you with a rough idea of the defining characteristics of students within particular grade ranges:
 
APossesses a deep understanding of the major concepts and themes of the course. The “A” student is able to consistently identify and explain key ideas in the primary sources, develop genuine insights into the broader significance of these texts, and demonstrate a high level of intellectual engagement in class discussions.
BDemonstrates a serious commitment to the course (i.e. attendance and participation) and a strong grasp of the major concepts and themes but with less depth and/or consistency than the “A” student.
CDemonstrates a reasonable effort to attend class and participate in discussions as well as a basic grasp of the course material.
DDemonstrates a minimal commitment to the course and a weak grasp of basic concepts and themes.
FFails to demonstrate an acceptable degree of effort in the course through low attendance, inability to discuss basic concepts and themes, missed assignments and/or plagiarized work.
 
Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:
  • identify and accurately cite primary and secondary sources
  • develop a thesis that is defended using primary and/or secondary sources and construct a coherent narrative that communicates historical knowledge and provides an interpretation of the past
  • analyze diversity in the human experience, including race, ethnicity, and/or gender
  • analyze the causes and consequences of historical events in a global context
  • describe cultural values and characteristics of a particular East Asian nation
  • describe social and/or economic changes in East Asia and their consequences
Bamboo Page Divider
Class Participation Image
Class Participation
Your participation mark (worth 10% of the final grade) will be based on your ability to demonstrate that you have made a sincere attempt to read and understand the assigned material. Although the quality of your comments will obviously be taken into consideration, all attempts to seriously engage the readings — from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question — will enhance your grade. While your mark will ultimately depend on my subjective evaluation of the quantity and quality of your comments, you may reasonably expect to receive at least a “B” if you routinely attend class and participate in class discussions on a regular basis.
Bamboo Page Divider
Quest Icon (Monty Python's Holy Grail)
Blackboard Quests
In order to encourage you to keep up with the readings and periodically review the material that we’ve covered, there will be three “quests” (somewhere between a quiz and a test) spread throughout the semester. The quests are worth 10% 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 30-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!
Bamboo Page Divider
Writing Assignments Image
Writing Assignments
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 (i.e., 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 one degree (e.g., from B to B-) for each day past the deadline. 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.
Bamboo Page Divider
The court of the Second Emperor of China
Essay 1
Memorial to the Second Qin Emperor
In 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.
Bamboo Page Divider
Cover of the book "Daughter of Han"
Essay 2
A Daughter of Han
Although 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.
Bamboo Page Divider
Son of the Revolution
Essay 3
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.
Bamboo Page Divider
Virtual Office Hours/Contact Information
My virtual office hours (via Zoom) and contact information are:
Tuesday 1:30-3:30    Wednesday 4:30-5:30    Thursday 1:30-3:30    Friday (Tea/Talk): 4:30-5:30
Phone: 630-637-5619
E-Mail: bhoffert@noctrl.edu
Home Page: bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu

Bamboo Page Divider
Required Texts
  • Clements, Jonathan. A Brief History of China. Tokyo: Tuttle, 2019. [BHC]
  • Wills, John E., Jr. Mountain of Fame. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012. [MOF]
  • Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. Third Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013. [SMC]
  • Pruitt, Ida. A Daughter of Han. Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books, 2011.
  • Liang, Heng and Judith Shapiro. Son of the Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.
Bamboo Page Divider
Essay 1 Rubric
Memorial to the Second Qin Emperor

Unsatisfactory
0 - .69
Satisfactory
.70-.79
Good
.80-.89
Excellent
.90-1.0
MARK
LENGTH
<1250
words
1250-1500
words
1500-1750
words
>1750
words
     
2
STYLE
Ideas are poorly expressed with substantial spelling and/or grammar issues Ideas are adequately expressed but there are many stylistic errors Ideas are clearly expressed with some stylistic errors Ideas are eloquently expressed with very few stylistic errors      
3
REFERENCES
There are no references to academic sources
There are “Chicago Style” references to less than 5 sources
There are appropriate “Chicago Style” references to at least 5 sourcesThere are well-chosen and skillfully used references to at least 6 academic sources     
3
CAUSE OF ZHOU FAILURE
The collapse of the Zhou sociopolitical order is inadequately explained The collapse of the Zhou sociopolitical order is minimally explained The collapse of the Zhou sociopolitical order is clearly explained The collapse of the Zhou sociopolitical order is insightfully explained      
3
REASONS FOR QIN SUCCESS
The success of the First Emperor is inadequately explained The success of the First Emperor is minimally explained The success of the First Emperor is clearly explained The success of the First Emperor is insightfully explained      
3
NEW IDEOLOGY
There are significant problems with the discussion of a new sociopolitical order There is a rough plan for the establishment of a new sociopolitical order There is a coherent plan for the establishment of a new sociopolitical order There is an insightful plan for the establishment of a new sociopolitical order      
6
TOTAL




     
20
Bamboo Page Divider
Essay 2 Rubric
A Daughter of Han

Unsatisfactory
0 - .69
Satisfactory
.70-.79
Good
.80-.89
Excellent
.90-1.0
MARK
LENGTH
<1250
words
1250-1500
words
1500-1750
words
>1750
words
     
2
STYLE
Ideas are poorly expressed with substantial spelling and/or grammar issues Ideas are adequately expressed but there are many stylistic errors Ideas are clearly expressed with some stylistic errors Ideas are eloquently expressed with very few stylistic errors      
3
USE OF PRIMARY SOURCE
There are significant problems with the references to A Daughter of Han The references to A Daughter of Han do not adequately express the chosen theme The references to A Daughter of Han are appropriate examples of the chosen theme The references to A Daughter of Han insightfully illuminate the chosen theme      
2
USE OF SECONDARY SOURCES
There are significant problems with the references to secondary sources There are “Chicago Style” references to less than 4 academic sources There are appropriate “Chicago Style” references to at least 4 academic sources There are well-chosen and skillfully used references to at least 5 academic sources      
3
THESIS
There are significant problems with the paper’s thesis The paper’s thesis is unclear and/or is not supported by a coherent argument The paper presents a clear thesis that is supported by a reasonable argument The paper presents an insightful thesis that is supported by a strong argument      
10
TOTAL




     
20
Bamboo Page Divider
Essay 3 Rubric
Son of the Revolution

Unsatisfactory
0 - .69
Satisfactory
.70-.79
Good
.80-.89
Excellent
.90-1.0
MARK
LENGTH
<1250
words
1250-1500
words
1500-1750
words
>1750
words
     
2
STYLE
Ideas are poorly expressed with substantial spelling and/or grammar issues Ideas are adequately expressed but there are many stylistic errors Ideas are clearly expressed with some stylistic errors Ideas are eloquently expressed with very few stylistic errors      
3
USE OF PRIMARY SOURCE
There are significant problems with the references to Son of the Revolution
The references to Son of the Revolution do not adequately express the chosen theme The references to Son of the Revolution are appropriate examples of the chosen theme The references to Son of the Revolution insightfully illuminate the chosen theme      
2
USE OF SECONDARY SOURCES
There are significant problems with the references to secondary sources There are “Chicago Style” references to less than 4 academic sources There are appropriate “Chicago Style” references to at least 4 academic sources There are well-chosen and skillfully used references to at least 5 academic sources      
3
THESIS
There are significant problems with the paper’s thesis The paper’s thesis is unclear and/or is not supported by a coherent argument The paper presents a clear thesis that is supported by a reasonable argument The paper presents an insightful thesis that is supported by a strong argument      
10
TOTAL




     
20