Asia 201 Gateway to Asia Fall 2015
Ronald P. Loftus,   Class Time: M, W 2:30-4:00 pm

Office: Walton Hall 144, 6275

Office Hours: MTThF 10:00-11:00 am

Or by appointment



Location: Walton Hall 21

This course is a survey of 2,000 years of East Asia's cultural and institutional history. The societies of East Asia, especially China, Korea and Japan have rich, complex and multifaceted historical experiences. It will be the purpose of this course to introduce students to the philosophy, religion, literature, art, envrionmental concerns and everyday life of the peoples of this part of the world from the dawn of history to the beginning of the modern era.

Student Learning Objectives:

1. To acquire a general knowledge of the scope, breadth and contours of East Asian History and Culture.

2. To develop interdisciplinary thinking and multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of the societies and cultures of East Asia.

3. To be able to think critically and ask questions that can be answered from a multi-disiciplinary perspective, espeically those concerning the environment and sustainability.


Course Requirements

1. Attendance and active participation. 15%

2. In-class group or solo presentations and/or assuming responsibility for leading the discussion for part of a chapter or other specified topic. 25%

3. Short reading reports and five analytical papers as assigned. 60%

4. Time Requirements for AS 201 are probablly pretty typical. Between keeping current in the Textbook reading, and preparing specific reading assignments for classroom discussion, and for drafting and revising papers, an average of around 6-9 hours per week outisde of class will be expected.

Please be aware that Willamette University has a strong plagiarism policy. It reads, in part:

Plagiarism and cheating are offenses against the integrity of the courses in which they occur and against the college community as a whole. Plagiarism usually consists of representing ideas that are not your own as your own so the simple solution is to attribute, i.e., provide clear indications of where you obtained your ideas or information. 

Note: I will respect any accommodations authorized by the Office of Disabilities Services. Please tell me about these accommodations as soon as possible.


Required Readings:

1. Ebrey, Walthall, Palais, East Asia: A Cultural Social and Political History 2nd Edition (Wadsworth, 2009)

see student resources at

2. Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji, translated and abridged by Royall Tyler

3. Selected readings in PDF format available on the WISE site for this course.


Useful Online Primary Materials:

On China

On Japan

On Korea


Class Schedule:

Weeks 1-4: Early or Classical China: History, Philosophy, Culture

Note: the class schedule below is an approximation of the pace at which we will read and discuss materials; we may fall slightly behind or push slightly ahead depending on circumstances and how well students read and absorb materials.

Wednesday August 26


First Class: Introduction to the Course

Thinking about the Idea of Civilizations and Early Polities


Early writing system; oracle bones 1 and 2; Lady Hao bronzes;more

Yale Unit on the Shang Bronze Age; or here;

Shang and Zhou Bronzes; Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Prepare Readings For Monday Aug. 31 Textbook, East Asia, pp. 2-19



Monday August 31


China's Long Past: Maps

a. Xia, Shang (1500-1045 BCE); Shang and some Shang Images; More on the Shang

b. The Zhou Dynasty (1045-256 BCE) ; More on the Zhou;

c. The Warring States Period (475-221 BC)





Textbook, East Asia, pp. 2-19 on Prehistory and Early Chinese History


Sign Ups to Discuss 2 PDFs on Wednesday 9/2 (WISE):

1. We ALL read Moeller on "How to read the Daodejing"

2. Laozi.pdf (everyone takes 5-6 "chapters" or "verses")

3. Optional: From Mote, Intellectual Foundations, Read Mote Ch. 4, "Early Taoism" a PDF on WISE


Wednesday Sept. 2

Discuss Moeller and the Laozi PDFs

Daoism, Yin Yang

Classical Chinese Philosophy:

The Six Books including the I Ching/Yijing click here;

See also: Book of Changes

Life in Ancient China



Textbook, East Asia, pp. 20-34;

See Mote PDFs on WISE Chs 1-2; and Yijing PDFs on WISE

Useful Resources; On the Yarrow Stalks;

Sign Up to Discuss:

"Confucius, Analects" PDF on WISE, in "Readings in Classical Chinese Philosphy," approx. 10 pages per student for Wednesday 9/9

Monday September 7--Labor Day, NO CLASS




9 (Wednesday)

Finish the discussion on Laozi;

Begin to Discuss Confucian Thought:

Brief Student presentations on the Analects PDF

Confucius: theAnalects;

Some Key Confucian terms




Sign Up to Discuss Fingarette PDFs on WISE, Chs. 1-2; 4-5 for 9/14

See also short readings on Mengzi, Xunzi, Han Feizi, and Mozi, PDFs on WISE;


14 (Monday)

More on Confucius: Interpretations by Fingarette

Hundred Schools of Thought:

Mozi, Mengzi, Xunxi, Han Feizi (Legalism)


Discuss Fingarette PDFs

Read: East Asia pp. 35-54


16 (Wednesday)

Finish Confucianism Disucssion

Discuss Ideas for First Paper Topic


Chronology: The Founding of China's Bureaucratic Empire:Qin and Han Dynasties



Read: East Asia pp. 35-54



Weeks 5-6


Recap and the Creation of China's Bureaucratic Empire: The Qin and Han Dynasties

Qin Conquest;

Thinking about China's Imperial Bureaucratic System




23 Connections: Silk Road; China's Disunity and the Spread of Buddhism; Reunification of China under Sui and Tang Dynasties East Asia 55-73; Buddhism and the Environment


For Monday, read East Asia 94-127 and links on Jomon, Creation Myths and Horseriders.


Pattern of Japan's Past: Japan's Neolithic: The Jomon Era

The Kojiki and Some Basics of Korean History;

Early Korea to 935; Three Kingdoms in Korea

More on Jomon and Yayoi Periods; Japan in the Chinese Records: Wei Dynasty Chronicle

Hashihaka Tomb









Kofun ; Notes on the Horserider theory on the origins of Japanese City State;

Where was Yamataikoku?

Jomon People; Jomon Pit Dwelling

Junko Habu video on Jomon Era; More on Jomon

East Asia 114-127;

Begin reading Tale of Genji



Early Japan to 794; Chronology; Myths and Monarchs

The Kojiki and Nihon shoki

Map and Sueki Ware

Early Japanese Monarchs

Early Japan to 794;

Wei Dynasty Records

East Asia 114-127;

More on Horserider Theory;

See also Horseriders;

and Japanese Artifacts

Read, Tale of Genji;

Begin Sign Up for Discussion of the Tale of Genji

Weeks 6-7

Oct. 5

The Chinese Model and the Ritsuryo Reforms

Early Japanese Literature

Manyoshu (758); Kokinshu; Video on Waka

Poems from the Kokinshu

Intro to the Genji; Video



Chang' An East Asia 74-97; the Examination System

See short videos on T'ang Poets

Du Fu

Li Bo or Li Bai

Bai Juyi aka Po Chu'i and Yang Guifei

East Asia 147-159;

Sign Up for Discussion of the Tale of Genji



Discussion, Tale of Genji


Finish Genji Monogatari;





Original texts of Genji (in Japanese) and more

Tale of Genji Scroll;


Continue Discussion of Genji




Paper #2 Prompt





See some notes of the Genji

See a Review here; a nice Penguin maintained website on the Genji

Genji Thoughts and Interpretations


Transition Back to China and its Empires; Brief Summary of Song Era (960-1279)

I will be enroute to Oxford University, St. Anthony's College, where I have been asked to give a lecture. Sounds like a great time to get started on your Genji papers!

Read Gernet excerpt on WISE (20 pp)

Weeks 8-9


China During the Song "City of Cathay" Scroll and DVD; Neo-Confucian Revival


East Asia 128-146; see these pages on Marco Polo; and here.

City of Hangzhou site; Another Hangzhou site;

Online details of scroll. See also Harvard site.



East Asia 147-166;

21 "City of Cathay" continued; Heian Japan Connections, the Mongols; more on the Envrionment

Prepare Elvin Unsustainability and Robert Marks PDFs on WISE



Kamakura Japan 1180-1333: Video Medieval Japan; Zen Ink Painting in Japan

Thinking about the Envrionment in Ancient China: Reading Mark Elvin and Robert Marks


More on Zen Painting and Poetry

Sign Ups: for Elvin and Marks


28 Environment and Sustainability in Ancient China: Discuss Elvin and Marks PDFs on WISE



Weeks 10-11

Nov. 2

Korean History Review; Koryo Korea and here.

China under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty; Some Yuan videos



Read East Asia 167-193 (Koryo Korea and Kamakura Japan)

New Yorker article on Mongols

Nov. 4

Japan's "Warring States" Era 1467-1600

The Tokugawa Settlement: Constructing a Balance of Power

Essay on Edo Japan

China: the Ming Dynasty; Choson Korea 1392-1800; the Ming Dynasty



East Asia 194-220; Mongol history

Ming Era; East Asia 221-261; ore on Ming


Read short PDFs on WISE and Sign Up for Totman discussion:

Contrad Totman, Ch. 1: The AncientPredation, 600-85 ;and

Conrad Totman Ch. 3: Timber Depletion 1570-1620




Finish Tokugawa Bakufu--Video and discussion

Discuss Environment and Sustainability in Japan:

"The Ancient Predation, 600-850"(TotmanAncient.pdf) and


Discussion of Totman Reading



Read PDFs on WISE

Conrad Totman, Ch. 1: The Ancient Predation, 600-85 and

Conrad Totman Ch. 3: Timber Depletion 1570-1620;



Discuss Totman "Timber Depletion 1570-1620"(Totman Ch.3.pdf)

Ming-Qing State,

Manchu Empire 1600-1800: The Last Empire

China's Struggle to Become Modern 1850s-1920s;

East Asia 262-278

See The New Thought and Culture Movement PP on WISE

Weeks 12-13 Final Paper Prompt


Continue discussion of the Manchu and China's Struggle to Become Modern 1850s-1920s

Reflections of Sustainability in Asia

Edo and Sustainability; See Azby Brown Video

East Asia 279-303;


See Edo as Sustainable City and this online article as well


18 China's Challenges in Contemporary Times: See the Wilson Center Report on "Choke Points in China's Water-Energy-Food Roadmap"


East Asia 304-323;

See Council on Foreign Relations website, and

The NYT Gateway Site on China and the Environment

Prepare PDF, Judith Shapiro, China's Evironmental Challenges, Ch.2.pdf

See also the classic 2007 article of timber custody chain here or in PDF Version


Discuss WISE PDF on Shapiro on China's Environmental Challenges.pdf


Read two WISE PDFs:

AS 201 Kingston, Ch.10.pdf or

AS 201 Karan, Ch.13.pdf


Read and Reflection Day: Meiji Japan and Modernity (no-class)

Select one of the two WISE PDFs to discuss:

Kingston, Ch.10.pdf or

Karan, Ch.13.pdf

See also, TotmanSum.pdf (a single page that we can examine together in class)


Read East Asia on Japan, 324-352; another interesting article

Thanksgiving Break Nov. 26-29

Weeks 14-15

Nov. 30

Japan and Modernity

Discuss Kingston and/or Karan PDFs;

Video on Fukushima and Zen; Also, Salvage and Salvation

Future of Nuclear Power in Japan

Continue Discussion/ Discuss Final Paper Topics;

Japan's Population

East Asia 370-386

Dec. 2 Last Class

Final Review/Reflections

East Asia 402-440

Final Paper Due Friday Dec. 11 3:00 pm. Please submit by using the DROPBOX function on WISE.