What you'll learn

  • China’s history from political, geographic, and cultural perspectives.
  • The beginning of Chinese history in archaeology and mythology.
  • The blossoming of Chinese thought, from Confucius to the Legalists.
  • Historical methods for explaining how complex civilizations are formed.
  • How to analyze texts and artifacts.
  • A critical appreciation of China’s literary, philosophical, political, and cultural resources.

Course description

This course, the first in a comprehensive series on China, introduces you to the history, geography, and culture of the country.

Time, space, and identity — enduring issues in Chinese history — are explored. You’ll study China’s early dynasties to understand how physical geography impacted its inhabitants and how the many ethnicities within the country affected Chinese identity. You’ll learn about China’s origins as told in ancient texts and through modern archeology. You’ll explore the first dynasties during the Chinese bronze age, the many facets of Confucianism and his Analects, and the competing schools of thought that followed.

New political and moral ideas appear in Chinese culture in this period — ideas that make up the country’s intellectual foundations and still resonate today. Join us to learn about China’s origins and how early concepts in Chinese culture still matter in the 21st century.

Faculty

  • 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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