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

Class Time: M, W 2:30-4:00 pm

Location: Walton Hall 231




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

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 27


First Class: Introduction to the Course: The Idea of Civilizations Prehistory and Early History in East Asia



Monday Sept. 1 Labor Day No Class

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

Zhou (1045-256 BCE) Dynasties;


Textbook, East Asia, pp. 2-19;

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

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

Wednesday Sept. 3

Shang Period

Shang Images; More on Shang

Life in Ancient China

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

East Asia, 2-19 and 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

Monday September 8

Introduction to Confucius: the Analects;

Some Key Confucian terms

Sign Ups:

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

10 (Wednesday)

Discuss Confucian Thought: Brief Student presentations on the Analects PDFs


Sign Ups:

Read Fingarette PDFs on WISE, Chs. 1-2;4-5


15 (Monday)

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

Daoism, Yin Yang

Sign Ups:

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


17 (Wednesday)

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

Qin Conquest

Sign Ups:

From "Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy" folder on WISE, also read Laoxi, and Zhuangxi

From Mote, Intellectual Foundations, Read Mote Ch. 4, a PDF on WISE

Weeks 5-6


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



Discuss Ideas for First Paper Topic

East Asia 35-54


24 Connections: Silk Road; China's Disunity and the Spread of Buddhism; Reunification of China under Sui and Tang Dynasties


(Saturday 9/27 Trip to Japanese and Chinese Gardens--email <sdubuque>if you are interested.)

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: The Kojiki and 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

Jomon People; Jomon Pit Dwelling

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

East Asia 114-127;

Begin reading Tale of Genji

October 1

Early Japan to 794; Chronology; Myths and Monarchs

The Kojiki and Nihon shoki

Map and Sueki Ware

Haniwa Image

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

Weeks 6-7

Oct. 6

The Chinese Model and the Ritsuryo Reforms

Early Japanese Literature

Manyoshu (758); Kokinshu

Poems from the Kokinshu

Intro to the Genji



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;



Discussion, Tale of Genji


Finish Genji Monogatari;




Sign Up for Discussion of the Tale of Genji

Original texts of Genji (in Japanese) and more

Tale of Genji Scroll;


Continue Discussion of Genji




Paper #2 Prompt





Tale of Genji Scroll; 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)


Read Gernet excerpt on WISE (20 pp)

Weeks 8-9


China During the Song "City of Cathay" Scroll and DVD;


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;

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

Prepare Elvin Unsustainability and Robert Marks PDFs on WISE



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


Sign Ups: for Elvin and Marks


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



Weeks 10-11

Nov. 3

Koryo Korea and Kamakura Japan 1180-1333: Video Medieval Japan

China under the Mongols: The YuanDynasty; Some Yuan videos



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

New Yorker article on Mongols

Nov. 5

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

The Rise of the Warrior Class Japan to 1600: Japan's "Warring States" Era

East Asia 194-220; Mongol history

Ming Era; East Asia 221-261; ore onMing


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


Sign Up for Totman discussion:


Environment and Sustainability in Japan: "The Ancient Predation, 600-850"(TotmanAncient.pdf)

Discussion of Totman Reading

Korean History Review


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



The Tokugawa Settlement

Manchu Empire 1600-1800: The Last Empire

East Asia 262-278

Weeks 12-13 Final Paper Prompt

17 Edo Japan; Ming-Qing State East Asia 279-303; Reflections of Sustainability in Asia
19 Edo era and Sustainability

See Edo as Sustainable City and this online article as well

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
3 Last Class


East Asia 402-440

Final Paper Due Saturday Dec. 13 3:00 pm