Department of History

History of China I  (HIST 122-01)

Origins and Imperium


Syllabus for Fall, 2017
  WGR 206  / TR, 09:30 - 10:45

text updated as of  30 Aug 17
Requirements Texts Handouts Lecture Schedule Policies

H. R. Spendelow 潘克俊, instructor

office hours: ICC 607 / T & R 15:00-17:00, or by appointment
GU website and Facebook

      This course begins a two-part sequence offering a general history of China from the earliest records of Chinese civilization through the first three decades of the People's Republic.  The course is introductory, has no prerequisites, and assumes no prior knowledge of China or its language.  The organization of the course is basically chronological, but within that framework we will be approaching China from a wide range of viewpoints, taking up political, economic, social, religious, philosophical, and artistic developments.  In this fall semester, we will cover the formation of China's social, political, and intellectual culture and its development through various dynastic regimes, up through the end of the Ming Dynasty in the late 16th century.

     In addition, in this semester we will explore the historical roots of several claims made by the People's Republic of China in the 21st century, including linkages with Xinjiang, Central Asia, and Tibet; the "Silk Road" origins of the 2013 "One Belt, One Road" initiative, and China's aspirations for a blue-water navy.

     The course has two basic goals: (1) to present a basic introduction to the traditions and legacies of the history and culture of China, including conflicting, even contradictory, interpretations of these traditions/legacies; and (2) to use the specific study of China as a means for developing more general skills in the discipline of historical analysis, as elaborated in the Department's statement of mission and learning goals.

Course requirements:
  1. familiarity with all material presented in lectures, hand-outs, and on the course website
  2. completion of all required readings
  3. one 2-pp. biographical essay (Thursday, 31 August) [ungraded]
  4. one 15-minute map quiz (Tuesday, 12 September) [c. 10%]
  5. one 50-minute mid-term examination (Thursday, 19 October) [c. 20%]
  6. one short (5-7 pp.) analytical paper [c. 35%]
    1. topic statement due Thursday, 07 September
    2. prospectus due Thursday, 12 October
    3. completed paper (final version) due Thursday, 16 November
  7. one 2-hour final examination Tuesday, 19 December, 09:00 - 11:00) [c. 35%]

Required  Texts:

  1. Hansen, Valerie.  The Open Empire:  A History of China to 1800 2nd ed. (Norton, 2015)
  2. Ebrey, Patricia B., ed.  Chinese Civilization and Society: A Sourcebook, 2nd ed. (Free Press, 1993) [DS 721 .C517 1993]
  3. Wright, Arthur F.  Buddhism in Chinese History (Atheneum, 1965) [BL 1430 .W7]
  4. Mote, Frederick W. Intellectual Foundations of China, 2nd ed. (Knopf, 1988) [DS 721 .M73 1989] - out-of-print; available via Blackboard > Course Documents > Readings > Mote
  5. Hammond, Kenneth J., ed.  The Human Tradition in Premodern China (Wilmington DE:  Scholarly Resources, 2002) [DS 734 .H885 2002]
A list of recommended and library reserve books can be found later in the syllabus.  You may also directly access the list of readings which Lauinger currently has on reserves.

In addition, a number of hand-outs are distributed in class during the course of the semester. Students are responsible for the instructions, guidelines, and other information contained in these hand-outs. While printed versions will be distributed in class, students can obtain extra copies from the course web-site. This web-site serves as the definitive source for the effective version of all course materials.

Basic Handouts:
A. syllabus
B. lists of Chinese terms (distributed throughout the semester)

Hand-outs for the full academic year:
C. "Class Protocols"
D. "Guide for New Students"
E. "Getting Ready for the Test"
F. "Introduction to the 'Prospectus'"
G. "Stylesheet for Term Papers"
H. "Grading System"
I.   "Guidelines for Term Papers"
J. Reischauer "time-line"

Hand-outs specific to the fall semester:
K. "China's Geography"
L. "Preparing for the Map Quiz
M. suggestions for paper topics

Schedule of lectures and readings:

Readings, particularly selections from the basic texts, should be completed before the lecture under which they are listed. Assignments are of varied lengths, so plan ahead and pace yourself.

Click here for the current schedule


  1. Failure to complete any of the Course Requirements listed above will result in automatic failure for the course.
  2. Students are expected to be fully familiar and compliant with the principles and practices outlined in the Georgetown University Honor Code.
  3. GU policy as of July 2014, "Instructional activities will be maintained during University closures.  Faculty members should prepare for the possibility of an interruption of face-to-face instruction by establishing a policy within the course syllabus to maintain instructional continuity in the case of an unforeseen disruption. During a campus “closure,” the regular class time schedule must be honored by all campus departments so that students will remain available for those faculty members who wish to maintain continuous academic progress through synchronous distance instruction.