Hansen, The Open Empire, chapters 8-10, epilogue.
Watson, The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry, chapters 10-11.
Ray Huang, 1587: A Year of No Significance.
For each paper, pick one of the suggested topics and write a short (800-1200 words) essay applying that theme to the relevant readings. You may take any position you feel justified, as long as you have good documentary support for your position. You will need to focus the question somewhat to keep it under 1200 words, either by applying the question specifically to the most relevant/striking texts or by posing a narrower version of the question. Papers will be graded primarily on how effectively they use historical and literary) evidence and knowledge to support your conclusions. However, standard writing forms and conventions are appreciated.
- Using both chapters from the Watson collection, use the evidence provided by the poems to describe the role of women in Chinese society in the Song era. Pay attention to issues of social class as well as gender.
- “Footbinding, though painful, must be balanced against rising levels of education, status, and standards of living for women in China from the late Song era onwards.” Do you agree or disagree. Discuss concretely.
- Is Ray Huang arguing, in 1587, that Confucianism is responsible for the decline of the Ming dynasty? Discuss concretely.
- How does Mongol rule change China? This should not be a history of the Yuan dynasty, but a before-and-after comparison and contrast. Are the changes long-lasting or transient?
- Is Ray Huang arguing, in 1587, that eunuchs are responsible for the decline of the Ming dynasty? Discuss concretely.
- Aside from Li Chih, how much influence does Buddhism have on the figures profiled in 1587?
Extra Credit (one page): who’s your favorite character in 1587 and why?
- I am expecting a real essay, with introductions, thesis, paragraphs, conclusions, etc.
- Clarity is crucial; structure is essential to a clear and effective argument.
- These questions can be answered more than adequately with reference to assigned readings and lectures. You are welcome to do more research and include outside sources, but you must be sure that they are relevant and of sufficient quality to enhance your argument. Using outside sources instead of relevant course materials will be penalized.
- The grade will be based primarily on the quality of the historical arguments that you make: thesis, the use of evidence, the attention to context. You don’t need to summarize the sources — this is too short of a paper for that — but you do need to give the reader a clear idea of what you’re talking about. Secondary to the quality of your analysis is the clarity of the presentation: how easy is it for the reader to follow your line of argument and be persuaded by your evidence?
- Length: 800-1200 words. If you use standard double-spaced pages, that’s 3-5 pages.
- No Title Page. Include your name, the course, and the assignment at the top. You may also include a title for your essay.
- Double-spacing is not required. Reasonable font, however, is: something standard and readable and a nice size. Normal margins are also a must: 1-1.5 inches.
- Don’t try to make the paper look longer or shorter by playing with font and margins.
- Spellcheck and grammarcheck your work. Don’t assume the computer is right, however: read it over yourself (reading out loud often helps). I don’t take off points for grammatical or spelling errors unless they are so numerous as to distract from the message of the paper. That doesn’t mean that I enjoy reading papers with errors, or that I won’t mark them when I notice them.
Plagiarism and citations
Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another without proper attribution and will not be tolerated. For details see the plagiarism page on the website, or ask. If you cite material from course texts, you only need to note author and page number; for outside sources you must include bibliographic information, either in a note or in a works cited section. You shouldn’t need outside sources to answer these questions, however.
Don’t forget: there are three essays due 5/7