What you'll learn

  • To understand fundamental changes in government, the economy, and society that took place between the late eighth and eleventh century. In this period, the state aristocracy gave way to new literati elite, educated men who sought to enter government through competitive examinations. A new kind of Confucianism took shape, which prized the moral autonomy of individuals. With this, the later imperial period of China’s history begins.
  • An approach to periodizing history based on developing an integrated understanding of social, political, economic, intellectual, and cultural change.
  • 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.

Course description

China (Part 4): Literati China: Examinations and Neo-Confucianism is the fourth 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.

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

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  • Portrait of Peter K. Bol
    Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
  • T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences

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