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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Part II | Option

This is an advanced, seminar-based, course with alternate modules on early and medieval China and late imperial China. You will engage in an in-depth study of the central socio-religious, philosophical, and socio-economic paradigms that shaped early and dynastic Chinese society, working with key primary sources
of the period concerned and examining related secondary scholarship.

The course seeks to identify the origins of ideas, social practices, and institutions that have permeated traditional Chinese society and have shaped the Chinese tradition up to the present day. Thematic rubrics explored in this paper may vary and cover topics such as

  • cosmologyand correlative thought
  • the Confucian classics
  • the Buddhist and the Daoist traditions
  • sacrificial religion
  • food culture
  • ritual and law
  • perceptions of the body and medicine
  • writing and print culture
  • agriculture and mercantile culture
  • urban and local culture

The course provides an overview of the oasis city of Dunhuang along the Silk Road between the 5th and 10th centuries, with a particular emphasis on it being a meeting point between East and West. It examines the ways in which "Dunhuang studies," an academic field that emerged from the study of Dunhuang manuscripts, contributed to our understanding of medieval Chinese history, society and culture. The course explores various aspects of contemporary life, including religion, literature, science and education. It will also try to show why the Silk Road holds such a fascination for the modern imagination both in East Asia and the West.

Terms taught
Michaelmas, Lent
Michaelmas, Lent