Paper 1 Questions
You should be able to discuss these questions without doing any reading beyond the course assignments. Papers should be typed, double spaced, and submitted in class, or by 5PM at the latest. List all books used in a Bibliography, but you only need to give citations for direct quotations (e.g. Brook, p. 59).
- Ever since the reunification of China under the Ming dynasty in 1368, the core provinces of China (the 15 Ming provinces, or the 18 Qing provinces, except Taiwan), have nearly always been controlled by one government in Beijing. What has held China together for so long? Discuss some, but not all, of the following factors: language, bureaucratic state, gentry class, examination system, economic linkages, transportation, commercial activity.
- However, China has also frequently fallen apart into civil war, or been invaded, during this same period. Discuss the factors tending to pull China apart, including military security, regional differences, political debates, foreign impacts.
- "China has always been connected to the global economy since 1500". Discuss with evidence, including money flows, trading linkages, religious and cultural exchange, and/or population movement.
- Western observers often had many misconceptions about the nature of Chinese society. Discuss why they held erroneous ideas and how recent studies have changed our views on e.g., the "despotic" state, Confucian "hostility" to commerce, Yellow Peril demographic explosions, landholding patterns, technological progress, and/or openness to new ideas.
- Timothy Brook describes the reactions of many Chinese writers to the extensive commercial changes occurring in Ming China. Compare the reactions of two of them, focusing on their attitudes toward gaining wealth, the morality of profit, the importance of luxury consumption, and/or the role of women. (Look for people like Zhang Dai, Zhang Tao, Zhang Han, or Xu Guangqi in the index.)