Asia 201 Gateway to Asia Fall 2014
Ronald P. Loftus,    
Walton Hall 144, 6275    



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% 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

August 27

Sept. 1 Labor Day No Class

First Class: Introduction to the Course: The Idea of Civilizations  
September 3

Connections, Xia, Shang (1500-1045) BCE, and Zhou;

Zhou (1045-256 BCE) Dynasties; Shang Images; More on Shang

Life in Ancient China

East Asia, 2-19; Early writing system; oracle bones 1 and 2;

Yale Unit on Shang Bronzes; Shang and Zhou Bronzes; Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Sept. 8

Classical Chinese Philosophy: The Six Books including the Book of Changes

East Asia, 20-34,

See Mote PDFs on WISE Chs 1-2; And I Ching PDFs on WISE

Useful Resources; For the I Ching/Yi Jing click here


Introduction to Confucius: the Analects;

Some Key Confucian terms

Read "Confucius, Analects" PDF on WISE, in "Readings in Classical Chinese Philosphy," approx. 10 pages per student

Discuss Confucian Thought

Hundred Schools of Thought: Mozi, Mengzi, Hunxi, Han Feizi (Legalism)

See Mengzi, Xunzi, Han Feizi, Mozi, PDFs on WISE
17 Daoism, Yin Yang Read Laoxi, and Zhuangxi in "Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy" folder, WISE

Weeks 5-6


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


Qin Conquest


Discuss First Paper Topic

East Asia 35-54


24 Connections: Silk Road; China's Disunity and the Spread of Buddhism East Asia 55-73
29 Sui and Tang Empires in China; Thinking about the Envrionment

Prepare Elvin Unsustainability and RobertMarksPDFs on WISE

See short videos on T'ang Poets

Du Fu

Li Bo or Li Bai

Chang' An East Asia 74-97; the Examination System
October 1 Environment and Sustainability in Ancient China: Discuss Elvin and Marks PDFs on WISE For Tuesday, readEast Asia94-127 and links on Jomon, Creation Myths and Horseriders.

Weeks 6-7

Oct. 6

Pattern of Japan's Past: The Kojiki and Early Korea to 935;

Junko Habu video on Jomon Era; Jomon Life; More on Jomon

More on Jomon and Yayoi Periods; Kofun Haniwa Image

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

Early Japanese Monarchs

Three Kingdoms in Korea

Jomon People; Jomon Pit Dwelling



Early Japan to 794; Chronology;

Myths and Monarchs

the Kojiki and Nihon shoki

Map and Sueki Ware

Manyoshu (758)

East Asia 114-127; More on Horserider Theory; See also Horseriders; and Japanese Artifacts

Hashihaka Tomb


China During the Song "City of Cathay" Scroll and DVD; Brief Summary of Song Era (960-1279)


East Asia 128-146; see readings from Marco Polo; City of Hangzhou site;

Another Hangzhou site;

see Gernet reading on WISE.

Online details of scroll. See also Harvard site.

Short writing assignment #1

15 "City of Cathay" continued; Heian Japan Connections, the Mongols; more on the Envrionment Images from theTale of Genji

Weeks 8-9


Discussion,Tale of Genji


Paper #2 Prompt

MurasakiNotes on Genji; Reading theTale of Genji

Genji with Kashiwagi's son; original texts and more

East Asia 147-166;

22 Finish Genji Monogatari; begin to look at China under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty Tale of Genji Scroll;
27 Environment and Sustainability in Japan: "The Ancient Predation, 600-850"(TotmanAncient.pdf)

Read Contrad Totman, Ch. 1; The AncientPredation, 600-85; pdf on WISE

East Asia 167-179 (Koryo Korea)

29 Continue Sustainability in Japan East Asia 194-204; Mongol history

Weeks 10-11

Nov. 3

Koryo Korea and Kamakura Japan 1180-1333:


Nov. 5 The Rise of the Warrior ClassMing Japan to 1600 East Asia 206-220
10 China: the Ming Dynasty; Choson Korea 1392-1800 Ming Era; East Asia 221-261
12 Manchu Empire 1600-1800 East Asia 262-278

Weeks 12-13

17 Edo Japan East Asia 279-303;
19 Edo era and Sustainability  
24 China and Modernity1800-1900 East Asia 304-323
26 Japan and Modernity East Asia 324-352

Thanksgiving Break Nov. 27-30

Weeks 14-15

Dec. 1 Review/Reflections East Asia 370-386


East Asia 402-440

Final Paper Due Saturday Dec. 13 3:00 pm