Introduction

China (Part 1): Political and Intellectual Foundations: From the Sage Kings to Confucius and the Legalists is the first of ten parts of ChinaX, that collectively span over 6,000 years of history. Each part consists of 4 to 8 weekly "modules," each with videos, readings, interactive engagements, assessments, and discussion forums. There are a total of 52 modules in ChinaX.

Parts 1-5 make up China: Civilization and Empire, taught by Professor Peter K. Bol. Parts 6-10 make up China and the Modern World, taught by Professor William C. Kirby. 

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For more information about ChinaX, please visit the ChinaX page.

What you'll learn:

  • An understanding of some of the big picture issues in China’s history from political, geographic, and cultural perspectives.
  • The beginning of history in archaeology and in myth.
  • Legitimating the imposition of political authority and justifying rebellion against authority.
  • The blossoming of Chinese thought: from Confucius in the sixth century BC to the Legalists of the third.
  • Historical methods for explaining how complex civilizations are formed.
  • The analysis of texts (in translation) and artifacts.
  • Methods for the analysis of philosophical and political arguments.
  • Methods of critical reading to modern scholarship.
  • To develop your own approaches to history and gain a critical appreciation of China’s literary, philosophical, political and cultural resources.
  • To express ideas more clearly and confidently; to think more analytically and critically through the study of primary and secondary sources.

Meet The Author

Peter K. Bol

Peter K. Bol

Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Peter K. Bol is the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, the Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the founding director of the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis. He holds degrees from the University of Leiden and Princeton University. He began teaching at Harvard in 1985 and was named a Harvard College Professor for excellence in teaching. Bol and Kirby have been teaching the history of China together since 1992.

William C. Kirby

William C. Kirby

T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies

William C. Kirby is T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies at Harvard University and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He is a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor. He serves as chairman of the Harvard China Fund and served as director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies from 2006 to 2013.

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