East Asian Thought
This seminar examines the evolution of the East Asian intellectual tradition through a close reading of primary sources, beginning with the development of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism and ending with a role-playing game that focuses on Korea’s attempt to modernize at the end of the nineteenth century.

The distribution of grades for the course is as follows:
Class/RTTP Participation
Mencius/Xunzi Debate (4-5 pages/1000-word minimum)
Warring States Exegesis (4-5 pages/1000-word minimum)
RTTP Written Memorials (two 500-word memorials, each worth 10%)
RTTP Oral Argument
RTTP Reform Program Analysis (10 pages/2500-word minimum)

Your 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:

A  Consistently demonstreates a deep understanding of the major concepts and themes of the course, develops insights into their broader significance, and maintains a high level of intellectual engagement in class discussions.

B  Demonstrates 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.

C  Demonstrates a basic grasp of the course material as well as a reasonable effort to attend class and participate in discussions.

D  Demonstrates a minimal commitment to the course and a weak grasp of basic concepts and themes.

F  Fails 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 Objective
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
  • develop and present arguments in a debate format.
  • 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.

Class/RTTP Participation
The Class Participation mark will be based on your ability to demonstrate that you have made a sincere attempt to read and understand the assigned material. All attempts to seriously engage the readings — from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question — will contribute to your grade. Your grade will also be substantially affected by your participation in the Reacting to the Past game that we will play at the end of the semester.

Written Assignments
Papers should be submitted to Blackboard/Assignments by the deadlines provided on the syllabus. 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. All papers should include appropriate references to “academic” (i.e. peer-reviewed) sources; both direct quotations and indirect references to the ideas of another author should be properly cited using Chicago Style footnotes. 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 used for program assessment (with names removed).

Mencius/Xunzi Debate*
After exploring the thought of Confucius and his two most important early followers, Mencius and Xunzi, we will have an in-class debate on the question of whether human nature is inherently good or bad. In preparation for the debate, you will write a 4-5 page paper (1000-word minimum) in the form of a “memorial” to Zhao Zheng, who reigned as the King of Qin from 247-221 BCE and then as the First Emperor of China (Qin Shi Huang Di) from 221-210 BCE. The purpose of your memorial is to convince the Qin ruler to allow you participate in an upcoming court debate between the followers of Mencius and Xunzi, respectively. The memorial should be dated to the year 240, when Zhao Zheng was mature enough (at the age of nineteen) to develop his own ruling philosophy, but before he had fully settled on the “Legalist” policies that ultimately led to the unification of China in 221 BCE. (Take a look at the The First Interview with the King of Ch’in: A Memorial to see an actual memorial to Zhao Zheng by the Legalist thinker Han Feizi.)

Your paper should open with a discussion of the historical context that will frame the debate (i.e. the sociopolitical turmoil of the Spring & Autumn and Warring States periods as well as relevant details regarding the state of Qin in 240 BCE). You should then go on to present a coherent argument for either Mencius’ or Xunzi’s position on human nature, illustrating key points with direct quotations from primary and secondary sources. Finally, you should conclude by demonstrating (with as much specificity as possible) how the adoption of your chosen position will help Zhao Zheng become a “true king” — one who is capable of securing the “Mandate of Heaven” that Zhao Zheng’s great-grandfather (King Zhaoxiang) implicitly claimed when he extinguished the Zhou dynasty in 256 BCE.

Some of the questions you may wish to reflect on as you write the paper include: how do Mencius and Xunzi define “human nature” (M: 6A1-2, 6A6; X: 180-181); how do they account for “bad” behavior (M: 6A6, 6A8-9, 6A15; X: 179-180); how do they feel that “goodness” should be cultivated (M: 6A14-15; X: 179-180, 182); and do they value “humaneness” (ren) and “ritual” (li) equally, or do they give priority to one over the other (M: 6A16-19; X: 182-183). You may also find it helpful to look at the index for major themes in Mencius on page 116 and read the brief introductions to the chapters from Xunzi. Your paper must be submitted to Blackboard/Assignments before class on the day of the debate in order to avoid the late penalty described above.

Warring States Exegesis*
After completing the section on the Warring States period, you will write a 4-5 page essay (1000-word minimum) exploring the historical significance of a “primary source” passage from the assigned readings on Daoism (Laozi and Zhuangzi), Legalism, or Huang-Lao. You must choose a passage that was not discussed in class, though you may use material that was discussed in class to elucidate the meaning of your chosen passage. Your paper should begin by quoting the passage that you wish to focus on (or just the relevant parts if it is too long to cite in its entirety). You should then provide an introduction in which you state your “thesis” (i.e. the main point that you hope to demonstrate in the body of the essay). Your exegesis of the passage should explain not only the meaning of the text as it relates to the fundamental principles of the tradition with which it is associated, but also how it contributed to that tradition’s response to the sociopolitical turmoil that arose from the collapse of the Zhou feudal order during the Spring and Autumn (722-481 BCE) and Warring States (475-221 BCE) periods. Your argument should be supported through relevant quotes from both “primary” sources (i.e. the original writings of authors from the period in question) and at least four “secondary” sources (i.e. works that discuss various “primary” and “secondary” sources).

Reacting to the Past
Toward the end of the semester we will engage in a role-playing game that focuses on Korea
’s attempt to modernize at the end of the nineteenth century. After a few preparatory classes, you and your classmates will take on the roles of historical figures from the period and participate in a Reform Council that will ultimately adopt a reform program for Korea. Each student will write two memorials as well as a final paper in which you will assess the reform program that was adopted by the class in the final RTTP session. Please note that this “game” demands a high degree of student preparation. You will need to read various primary and secondary source materials in order to prepare formal memorials, make oral arguments to the Council, and debate reform proposals with classmates who will be representing different political and social interests. You will need to negotiate with other members of the Council in order to push through or block reforms and ultimately agree on a final reform program, which will be promulgated in the king’s name at the close of deliberations. Finally, your analysis of the reform program will require you to demonstrate a deep understanding of the issues that were debated during the game. In short, students who have read the materials carefully and become fully immersed in the game will likely do significantly better than those who rely on general impressions and uncertain recollections.

Role Assignments
There are five particularly prominent roles in the game, each of which is briefly described below. Those who are interested in playing one or more of these roles should do a little research and submit a brief explanation of which role(s) you would like to play and why. Role requests are due by Friday, November 1; those who do not submit a request will be assigned a role at random.

  • KimHongjip (a.k.a. Kim Koengjip). Chief Minister of the Deliberative Council, previously inclined toward moderate reform but now willing to consider radical reforms in the wake of Chinese defeats in the opening phase of the Sino-Japanese War.
  • Yu Kilchun. Wrote Observations on a Journey to the West about his impressions of Korea vis-a-vis the West. Strong advocate for radical reform, but open to compromise when necessary to attain larger goals.
  • Min Yongdal. High official, member of Queen’s family. Known to be a man of integrity but inclined to be protective of royal prerogatives.
  • Pak Chongyang. #2 person in the Council. Spent time in Japan and America. Inclined toward radical reform, pro-American, and leery of Japanese intentions.
  • Pak Chunyang. Leader of the Taewon’gun faction. Strongly opposed to Westernizing reforms and adamantly anti-Japanese.

Written Memorials
Each student will write two 500-word memorials on two of the four topics that will be debated in class (namely, political, social, economic, and education reform). Those who are affiliated with a faction (most of the class) should coordinate with the other members to choose topics of interest while ensuring that the faction’s perspective is appropriately presented at each debate. Memorials should be written in character, make use of both primary and secondary sources, and include references to Chinese and/or Japanese perspectives on the topic in question. All sources should be properly cited using Chicago Style footnotes. Since the class will need to read your memorial in order to prepare for the debate, it must be posted to Blackboard by 6 pm two days prior to the debate; to post your memorial, go to Assignments, click “RTTP: Written Memorials,” choose the correct thread, and click “Reply”; then write your character’s name and faction in the Subject line and attach your memorial by clicking “Browse My Computer.” Late memorials will be penalized .5/10 for each hour that it is late.

Oral Arguments
Each student will make one oral presentation based on one of their two written memorials. Those with a factional affiliation should consult with their colleagues to determine which of the two memorials they should formally present. It is ultimately up to the faction to ensure that it’s perspective is appropriately represented at each debate.

Final Reform Program
Toward the end of the game, each of the four factions will submit a reform proposal, which should explain the faction’s reform philosophy and provide a reform edict for each of the four topics. After all four proposals have been debated, the Council will select a single refom program by majority vote; if a majority is not achieved in the first round, the least popular proposal will be eliminated and a new vote will be taken on the remaining proposals; if a majority has still not been achieved, the process will be repeated with the top two proposals. Reform proposals must be posted to Blackboard by 6 pm two days prior to the debate. Late proposals will result in each faction member being penalized .5% for each hour that it is late. Members of the winning faction will each receive a 1% bonus.

Reform Program Analysis*
After concluding the game, each student will write a 10-page (2500-word minimum) analysis of the reform program that was adopted by the class. The paper should begin with a discussion of “modernity,” both as a general concept and with specific reference to the modernization of East Asia. This should be followed by a discussion of the particular challenges associated with the modernization of Korea and an assessment of the reform program’s potential to address these challenges at the end of the nineteenth century. Your paper should conclude with the development of a thesis regarding the impact of the East Asian intellectual tradition on the modernization of Korea. Be sure to include appropriate citations for both direct and indirect quotations using Chicago Style footnotes as well as a bibliography of primary and secondary sources that were cited in the paper.

Required Texts
 Liu, JeeLoo. An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. [ICP]
 Fingarette, Herbert. Confucius: The Secular as Sacred. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1998. [SAS]
 de Bary, Wm. Theodore and Irene Bloom (compilers). Sources of Chinese Tradition. Second Edition, Volume 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. [SCT]
Additional readings are available by clicking links on the syllabus and by downloading /printing the “Reacting to the Past” Gamebook and Readings.

Office Hours, Etc.
225 North Loomis Road, Room 23
Tuesday: 4-5   Wednesday: 4-5    Thursday: 2-5   Friday (Tea/Talk): 4-5
Phone: 630-637-5619
E-mail: bhoffert@noctrl.edu
Home Page: http://bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu
* All papers should be submitted to Blackboard/Assignments.
Papers may be used for program assessment (with names removed).