History 244.01: MODERN EAST ASIA
TJ Hinrichs, Cornell University
Offered at Southern Connecticut State University in Spring 2006
MWF 8:10-9:00 a.m.

Survey of East Asian History from around 1600 to the present. Emphasis on thinking through primary sources.

Recommended for purchase at the Bookstore and on reserve at Buley:

    • Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall, James B. Palais. East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Houghton-Mifflin, 2005. [The emphasis in this course will be on reading and analysis of primary sources. This text will be helpful for historical context.]
    • Other readings, assignments, and resources will be available on WebCT.

Key to Citation Abbreviations (Readings on WebCT):

CC : Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, 2nd. Ed., Ebrey, Patricia, ed. New York: The Free Press, 1993.

SCT : Sources of Chinese Tradition Vol. 2: From 1600 Through the Twentieth Century, 2 nd Edition. Comp. William Theodore de Bary and Richard Lufrano. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

SKT : Sources of Korean Tradition, Vol. 2: From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Peter H. Lee, et. al. New York :  Columbia University Press, 2000.

SJT : Sources of Japanese Tradition, Vol. 2: 1600 to 2000. 2 nd Edition. Ed., by Wm. Theodore de Bary, et. al. New York : Columbia University Press, 2005.

SMC : The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Eds., Pei-kai Cheng & Michael Lestz with Jonathan D. Spence. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.


Participation (Based on the following) 15%

Quantity: Regular Attendance

Quality: Contribute constructively to discussion, raise good questions, and take good notes.

Group Work: You need to read everything, but for group work you should focus on thinking about a subset of the primary sources, which will be assigned to you the week before. Bring your primary source readings with you to class for discussion.

Presentations (4 or more) 5%

Presentations should clearly convey in your own words the main points that you come up with through group discussion. I will consult with groups on this.

Response Essays (4) 20%

1-2 pages, 12-point type, double spaced, footnote sources. Bring in the first class of the week, get feedback from classmate, rewrite, and turn both versions in on the second class.

1A (Week III) or 1B (Week IV)

2A ( Week V) or 2B (Week VI)

3A (Week VIII), 3B (Week IX), or 3C (Week X)

4A (Week XI), 4B (Week XII), 4C (Week XIII), or 4D (Week XIX)

Late essays will be docked 1/3 grade.

Response Essay Feedback 5%

Two times or more. You should give constructive feedback on the following:
1) Fulfillment of assignment (Did they address the assigned question?)
2) Use of sources (Did they use primary sources when those were assigned? Does their evidence support their ideas? Did they use quotes effectively?)
3) Coherence (Do they have a logical argument? Do sentences follow each other logically?)
4) Writing (Check grammar, spelling, word usage, and punctuation.)

Chronology 5%

Term-long project, 2-3 pages. This is a study aid; develop a format that presents and helps you to remember the place of key people and events in time and in relation to each other. You are welcome experiment with different formats through the semester. Keep this up as you do your readings each week. I will ask to see it periodically through the course of the semester.

Quiz 5%

Midterm Examination 15%

To schedule a makeup for a missed midterm or final examination, bring me a formal excuse, such as a doctor’s note.

Final Examination 30%

To schedule a makeup for a missed midterm examination, bring me a formal excuse, such as a doctor’s note.















Scale (%)















This is your course. You decide what you want to get out of it, how it ranks among your priorities this semester, and how much time and energy you can afford to put into it. If you are having trouble with some part of the course, email me or come see me. (Please use telephone communication as a last resort.) I can often help or direct you to someone who can.

Civility, Respect, and Learning:

All classroom behavior should be characterized by civility, attentiveness, and respect. All coursework should be performed with integrity. Examinations should structure your review, assimilation, and recall of material; essay assignments should structure your development of your own ideas and writing skills. When you refer to or quote others’ ideas, even if you arrived at similar ideas on your own, you must cite your sources. If you have questions about this, try checking the links at <http://library.southernct.edu/plagresforstu.htm> or see me. Besides undermining the learning process, plagiarism or cheating will result in an F and will be reported to the dean, possibly resulting in further penalties.

Attendance and Participation:

A type of learning and creativity emerges in group discussion that you do not get in independent work. In addition, expressing yourself clearly and contributing intelligently to group discussions are highly prized skills in this culture. Some people find it difficult to think or express themselves in groups. Some people become so excited about their own ideas that they forget to really listen to and think about what other people are saying. Class discussion is an opportunity to develop group communication skills.

Weekly Preparation:

Read all of the following week’s readings before class on Monday. (Obvious exception: Read the first week’s readings during that week and weekend.) It is helpful to estimate in advance the number of pages assigned, calculate how long it will take you to read and take notes on them, how long it will take you to prepare for any written assignments, and make sure you set aside time to do all of this.


I will be sending out essential information via email. Check your SCSU email account regularly. If you have trouble doing this from home, do it from a computer at school. If you normally use another email account, consider setting your southernct.edu account to automatically forward to the other one.

Developing Cultural Literacy:

As you read, you may come across words or ideas that you do not understand. For English-language words, make it a habit to look them up in a dictionary such as <http://www.m-w.com/home.htm> and expand your vocabulary. For concepts from East Asian cultures that we are studying for the course, if the explanations in the readings are not clear, ask in class. If you are curious and diligent, look up encyclopedia articles on these and on events and people, for example in <http://www.britannica.com/>. Be careful with Wikipedia; it can be unreliable.

Note taking:

The act of writing things down will not only give you something to review later, it will reinforce memory. In class, take notes not only on facts and on assignments, but on ideas that sound interesting or important. Remembering and thinking about these ideas will help you with your essays. For secondary readings such as the textbook and introductions to the primary readings, pay particular attention to things that help answer the study guide questions, and to definitions of key terms.

I. Diversity and Diffusion

Familiarize yourself with the basic features of Chinese geography, history, and language, as discussed in class, and through the web sites given below. Memorize key terms (see WebCT), geographical features, and surname order for the quiz next week.

Readings (See links on WebCT):

  • Patricia Buckley Ebrey, A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/index.htm.
    Explore links: 1) Timeline, and 2) from Contents Þ Geography Þ Land and Þ People.
  • Uli Theobald, Chinaknowledge: A Universal Guide for China Studies, http://www.chinaknowledge.de. Explore links: 1) Basics Þ Language.
  • Simon Ager, “Chinese Script and Language,” “Japanese Hiragana,” “Japanese Katakana,” “Korean,” Omniglot: A Guide to Written Language, http://www.omniglot.com/writing/chinese.htm, http://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese_hiragana.htm, http://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese_katakana.htm, http://www.omniglot.com/writing/korean.htm.
  • “Japanese Chronological Table,” National Museum of Japanese History, http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/e_ctable/index.html.
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, http://www.britannica.com. Search for “Encyclopedia Brittanica” under title in the Buley online catalog and follow links for full text.

    Do a search for “Japan” and you will get four columns listing different articles and web sites. Under the second column, “Britannica Student Encyclopedia,” look up the first article on “Japan.” Read at the first page of it for an overview. At the bottom of the page, you will find a table of contents for the article that includes links. Follow at least three links that interest you and be prepared to discuss what you learned and what you found interesting about Japan in class.

    Do the same for “Korea.”


  1. People, Geography January 23
  2. Languages, Writing Systems January 25
  3. Interconnections: Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Cosmology January 27

II. Trade and Inter-State Relations

There is a stereotype of East Asia as having been isolated from the rest of the world before “The West” “broke it open” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In fact, East Asian countries had extensive dealings with each other and with the rest of the world prior to this period, and appropriated a great deal of “foreign” technologies and ideas. What were these relationships?


  • East Asia: “Connections: Europe Enters the Scene,” pp. 308-312.


  • Richard Smith, Chapter 2, “The Place of Barbarians in Chinese History,” Chinese Maps: Images of ‘All Under Heaven’, (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 7-22.
  • Sandra Aili Green, “Tracing Muslim Roots: A Brief History of the Hui,” Education About AsiaVol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 2005):34-35.
  • Mary Lynn Rampolla, “Working With Sources,” “Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It,” A Pocket Guide to Writing in History Fourth Edition, ( Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2004), 5-21, 70-76. Also skim “Quoting and Documenting Sources,” pp. 77-102.


  1. Quiz: Geography, People, Language January 30
    Tribute System Relations
  2. Silk Road, Inner Asia, and Oceanic Trade February 1
  3. Preview: Who Were the Manchus? February 3
    Quiz Preview: Writing, Using and Citing Sources, and Plagiarism

III. Manchu Conquest and Qing China

Late Imperial China is usually defined as the period of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. This week we will look at some areas that saw much continuity (although not without change and growth) in Ming and Qing society, such as family life and women in society. We will also look at the change of political regime, the fall of the Ming Dynasty to rebellion and Manchu conquest, and the establishment of the Qing Dynasty.


  • East Asia: Chapter 16, “The Creation of the Manchu Empire (1600-1800)”


  • [Various perspectives on the fall of the Ming]: 1.3-1.9, SMC, pp. 4-14.
  • [Various perspectives on the Manchu conquest]: 2.1-2.9, SMC, pp. 21-39.
  • [Late Imperial Chinese families, society, and the place of women]:
    CC, pp. 245-255, 326-329;
    1.10 Song Maocheng: “The Tale of the Ungrateful Lover,” SMC, pp. 14-20.


  1. Quiz 2: Primary vs. Secondary Sources, Citing Sources February 6
    Group Work, Response Essay 1A
  2. Presentations February 8
  3. Who were the samurai? February 10
    Movie Clips: “The Twilight Samurai,” “Chushingura”

IV. Edo Japan: Peacetime Warrior Government and Urban Culture

The Tokugawa or Edo government implemented a variety of measures to keep the ruling samurai class distinct from townsmen (craftsmen and merchants), peasants, and “untouchable” classes. At the same time, peacetime allowed the burgeoning of commerce, the growing wealth townsmen, and a vibrant urban culture. What ideals do we find in this week’s readings for warriors and for townsmen, and in what ways were these the same or different? In what ways did these ideals come into conflict with the complexities of real life situations?


  • East Asia: Ch. 17 “Edo Japan (1603-1800)”


  • “The Way of the Warrior,” SJT, pp. 437-480.
  • Howard Hibbet, “Kiseki and the Hachimonji-ya,” and selections from Ejima Kiseki’s (b. 1667) Characters of Worldly Young Women and Characters of Worldly Young Men, translated by Howard Hibbet, in The Floating World in Japanese Fiction, (Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Press, 1959), pp. 50-64, 100-124.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 1B February 13
  2. Presentations February 15


V. Qing: “Inner Turmoil and Outer Dangers”

While many long-standing internal tensions had already been undermining the older regimes and contributed to their loss of power, many, especially later, gave blame or credit for this to “Western Imperialism.” There has been much debate in the fields of Chinese and Japanese history over the roles of internal turmoil versus “Western Impact” on these events. How were the problems of the era diagnosed in nineteenth century Qing China. How did the Qing response to them?


  • East Asia: “Connections: European Imperialism,” Ch. 19 “China in Decline, 1800-1900”

WebCT: See for web site links and response essay (web site review) assignment.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 2A Wed., February 22
  2. Presentations Fri., February 24

VI. Fall of the Old Orders and Retrospective Views

The fall of the Qing, Tokugawa, and Choson regimes did not lead to the rebuilding of new orders on the institutional and socio-economic foundations of the old. As the bases of these classes disappeared, the scholarship and moral authority of Chinese literati and Korean yangban, and the martial and civil skills of Japan’s samurai were suddenly made anachronistic. In the late nineteenth century in both Qing China and in Tokugawa’s successor Meiji Japan, Western values were explicitly rejected while the technologies and even institutions of the West were imported in a new race among nations for “Wealth and Power.”


  • East Asia: Ch. 20 “Japan in Turmoil (1800-1867),” [Optional: Ch. 18 “Late Choson Korea, 1598-1800”], Ch. 22 “The Final Years of Choson Korea (1800-1895)”

WebCT: See for web site links and response essay (web site review) assignment.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 2B February 27
  2. Presentations March 1
  3. Search for New Models March 3

VII. Consolidation & Review


  1. Questions March 6
  2. MIDTERM March 8
  3. Preview: Meiji March 10

VIII. Remaking Japan

By the early twentieth century, the variously interpreted “Confucian” social values and Yin-Yang cosmologies that undergirded the power and legitimacy of earlier political systems and social relations lost credibility in many sectors, especially among urban intelligentsia, giving way to fascinations for all things western, including clothes, food, architecture, etiquette, ideas, and values — Science, Modernity, and Social Darwinism (Survival of the Fittest (among Races and Nations).

Of all East Asian nations, Japan was the quickest to mobilize and most thorough and systematic in its evaluation of Western models, and in restructuring its polity, society, economy, and culture. How do historians (as summarized in East Asia) account for this? What do we learn from the writings of Meiji men themselves (in our primary readings)?


  • East Asia: Ch. 21 “Meiji Transformation, (1868-1900),” Ch. 24 “Rise of Modern Japan (1900-1931)”


  • “The Iwakura Mission,” “Civilization and Enlightenment,” “Education in Meiji Japan,” “Gender Politics and Feminism” SJT, pp. 677-681, 694-720, 750-788, 1188-1204.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 3A March 13
  2. Presentations March 15
  3. Preview: From Manchu Empire to Chinese Nation March 17


IX. Remaking China



  • East Asia: Ch. 23 “Remaking China (1900-1927)”


  • “Liang Qichao on His Trip to America,” “Ridding China of Bad Customs,” “Rural Education,” “My Old Home,” “The Spirit of the May Fourth Movement,” “The CC, pp. 335-372.
  • “Radical Critiques of Traditional Society,” SCT, pp. 389-395


  1. Groups, Response Essay 3B March 27
  2. Presentations March 29
  3. Preview: Japan as Imperialist March 31

X. Japanese Imperialism

While we think of the Pacific War as part of World War II, and the United States did see fighting on both fronts, for China and other parts of East and Southeast Asia, the war long predated the invasion of Poland and Pearl Harbor. From the East Asian side, the Pacific War began with Japanese expansionism. What were the dynamics that led to this? What were the voices in Japan for and against it?

This week covers several decades of history, and a lot of primary readings. For preparation, focus on those readings relevant to your group’s topic, and skim the rest. You can use part of the library day to review readings that you skimmed.


East Asia: [Review relevant sections of Chapters 21 and 24], “Connections: World War II,” Ch. 27, “War and Aftermath in Japan (1931-1964)”


  • “State Shinto in the Colonies of Imperial Japan,” “Tokutomi Sohô: A Japanese Nationalist’s View of the West and Asia,” “Ishibashi Tanzan: A Liberal Business Journalist,” “The Rise of Revolutionary Nationalism,” “Empire and War,” SJT, 797-811, 859-871, 948-1017.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 3C April 3
  2. Presentations April 5

Friday, April 7: Catch-up and Consolidation Day

XI. Invasion, War, Colonization: Perspectives from Korea and China

How was Japan’s expansionism and colonization experienced in Korea and China?


  • East Asia: Ch. 25 “The Loss of Korean Independence and Colonial Rule (1896-1945),” Ch. 26 “War and Revolution, China (1927-1949)”


  • SKT, 314-351.
  • 15.3-15.6, 17.1-17.6, SMC, 277-286, 314-333.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 4A April 10
  2. Presentations April 12
    Preview: Communism and Cold War

Friday, April 14: State Holiday

XII. Rise of Communist States (CCP, North Korea)

The years following the end of World War II saw the rise of communist states in Vietnam, China, and Korea, and the convulsion of these countries with civil war between communist and non-communist groups. China and Korea remain divided between communist and non-communist regimes today.

From the point of view of the United States, on the other side of the Cold War, communism was an international conspiracy, totalitarianism, offering empty promises of equality and empowerment but realities of oppression and poverty. In these readings we find much that could reinforce these views. Leaving aside cynical political manipulation, what did people find appealing in communist systems and regimes?


  • East Asia: Ch. 28 “ China Under Mao (1949-1976),” Ch. 30 “ Korea (1945 to the Present)” [especially pp. 546-564, 584-603].


  • “Land Reform,” “A New Young Man Arrives at the Organization Department,” “Peng Dehuai’s Critique of the Great Leap Forward,” “Developing Agricultural Production,” “Lei Feng, Chairman Mao’s Good Fighter,” “Red Guards,” “Victims,” CC, 416-421, 429-446, 449-469.
  • SKT, 352-366.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 4B April 17
  2. Presentations April 19
  3. Preview: Asia’s Dragons April 21

XIII. Prosperity and Dislocation: Asia’s “Dragons”

While the People’s Republic of China and North Korea tried economic growth through command and control economies, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore pulled themselves out of dire postwar poverty largely through manufacture for export. While their goods were derided for cheapness and flimsiness in the 1960s, by the 1970s and 1980s “Made in Japan/Hong Kong” had become a mark of excellence in many arenas. How did this emphasis on growth and development affect these societies and cultures? What did their governments do to facilitate economic growth?


  • East Asia: Ch. 30 “Korea (1945 to the Present)” [review relevant sections], Ch 31, “Contemporary Japan (1965 to the Present)


  • SKT, 400-411.
  • SJT, 1100-1112, 1204-1222.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 4C April 24
  2. Presentations April 26

Friday, April 28: Library Day

XIV. Economic Liberalization, Prosperity, and Dislocation in Post-Mao China

By the 1980s, the reformists had taken control of the Communist Party in China, and were moving toward opening up to foreign trade, to private ownership and entrepreneurship, and to the freer exchange of ideas. How did these liberalizations transform mainland Chinese society and politics?


  • East Asia: Ch. 29 “China Since Mao (1976 to the Present)”


  • “Economic Liberalization and New Problems for Women,” “Peasants in the Cities,” “Posters Calling for Democracy,” “Defending China’s Socialist Democracy,” CC, pp. 482-504.


  1. Groups, Response Essay 4D May 1
  2. Presentations May 3
  3. Wealth and Power: Found? Now what? May 5

XV. Modernity in East Asia

What is Modernity? What are the major transformations of East Asia since 1600?


  1. Modernity? May 8
  2. Modernity: The East Asian Pursuit May 10
  3. REVIEW May 12