From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Monday, March 27, 2017

China, East Asia, and the World—Source Paper I (Prompts)

On this day in Round and Square history
 27 March 2016—
[a] Library...of Congress RF
There are two posts in this assignment (the "prompt" and "advice").
Click below for the other section of this assignment:
Writing From Sources A                    Writing From Sources B
Chinese History and Culture 
History 210
Spring 2017

Writing From Sources
Read the following assignment carefully and reflect for a few moments upon what historians really do when writing about the past—blending the sources and their analyses into readable and intelligent essay form. Then, using the knowledge you have gained through reading your assignments, choose six to twelve documents that revolve around a general theme that interests you, and which you would like to pursue further.  Once you have chosen your topic and sources, please e-mail this information to me (see below).  The deadline for the preliminary work is Wednesday, April 12, but I encourage you to send it earlier.  Finally, write a medium-length (3,000-word) essay from the sources you have chosen.  The paper is due as an e-mail attachment (.pdf file) by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 23. Make sure it is on-time.
As you write your historical source analysis, imagine that you are writing for intelligent people who know little about China, and that your task is to convey an honest, interesting picture of some aspect of Chinese social, cultural, political, or intellectual life during the periods we have studied.  It might help to think of this as an extended reflection on six (or more) different sources, in which you write confidently and intelligently about your understanding of the themes in the documents.  Your main focus is the documents, and I encourage you to quote from them.  You should use the knowledge you have gained from general reading and lectures to set the historical context, but you will be judged mostly on your ability to grasp themes in and between the documents you have chosen.

Your balance of primary and secondary sources should be about 70% primary and 30% secondary. Engagement with both primary and secondary sources at the same time is a very important historiographical skill that requires practice. This assignment gives you an opportunity to work on the balance all historians must seek in their reading and their writing.

Just to get you thinking about possibilities, I have included some possible categories.  They are only intended as guides. You will need to refine them as you think about your paper.  These categories are intentionally broad, in order to encourage you to think about a wide variety of readings in your course books and supporting materials.  Your actual topic should be a good deal more focused.

            * women, gender relations, family...
            * rebellion, social disorder, war, banditry, famine
            * poverty, peasants, agriculture, tenancy
            * outcasts, rebels, “barbarians"
            * family life, social organization
            * bureaucracy, taxation, land ownership, government work
            * intellectuals, examinations, ruling
            * religion, spirits, ancestors, ghosts, “heaven....
            * myths, historical writing, and other narrative prose
[c] Book Buy RF

Remember that choosing appropriate sources is part of the assignment.  Part of the skill I am looking for is the ability to choose appropriate sources.  The better you know your readings, the better you will do when you choose from among your many class readings.

Your paper should be between 3,000 and 3,500 words, or approximately ten to twelve pages.  There is usually little to gain by exceeding 3,500 words.  If you do, you are likely writing for reasons other than a good grade.  This is fine, but not required.  If you “need” to write a longer paper (if you are compelled to write thirty pages on Qing bureaucratic culture, for example), please feel free to do so.  I will read every word, and comment accordingly.  3,500 well-written and well-argued words will put you in “95+” territory, though, so consider your other classes before using this assignment to begin your doctoral dissertation.
[d] Historical Source RF

The real problem lies with “minimalism.” I urge you to put enough time into your paper so that you write more than a handful of pages. Papers under 2,500 words almost always lack development and serious analysis of the sources. I admire efficiency when I see it, but don’t assume that it courses through your authorial veins. Papa Hemingway might write a beautiful 1,783 word masterpiece called “The Aged Literatus and the Yangzi” or “Goodbye to Munitions.” You’re not Hemingway…yet. Write 3,000+ words.

You may consult any other books you deem necessary, but your essay will be judged on your ability to write directly from the sources you have chosen.  While it is acceptable to choose a source or two from beyond our course materials, my intention is for you to make the most of the detailed syllabus we have studied in this class.  This assignment is meant to judge your ability to use primary and secondary sources.  It is not meant to be the final word on the subject!
***  ***
Your paper should have a title at the top of the page, followed by a “shorthand” list of your sources.  From there, space down twice and start your essay...(double-space the essay itself).  Examples

A Week in a Country Jail:
Peasant Uprisings, Social Disorder, and Punishment in Chinese Society
Thomas T. Hall
31 January 1970
          Ebrey: 51-53               Penal Servitude in Qin Law
          Ebrey: 271-279           The Yangzhou Massacre
          Ebrey: 318-322           Mid-Century Rebels
          Mair: 190-191             On the Cicada: In Prison
          Mair: 452                    They Fought South of the Wall
(Add several appropriate secondary sources, such as sections from The Gate of Heavenly Peace, History in Three Keys, or other materials.

Salt Miner’s Daughter:
Family, Gender and Social Relations in Medieval and Early-Modern China
Loretta Lynn
19 December 1970
          Ebrey: 42-46               Social Rituals
          Ebrey: 64-68               The Classic of Filial Piety
          Ebrey: 69-71               Wang Fu on Friendship and Getting Ahead
          Ebrey: 238-244           Family Instructions
          Mair: 264-265             Written on Seeing the Flowers...
          Mair: 274-275             Ballad of Selling a Child
(Add several appropriate secondary sources, such as sections from The Talented Women of the Zhang Family, Producing Guanxi, or other materials.

Heaven Says Hello:
Cosmology, Religion, and Popular Belief in Chinese Society
Sonny James
17 August 1968
          Ebrey: 77-79               Yin and Yang in Medical Theory
          Ebrey: 105-108           Tales of Ghosts and Demons
          Ebrey: 120-122           The Errors of Geomancy
          Ebrey: 280-281           Proverbs About Heaven
          Mair: 226-227             Presented to the Taoist Paragon Mao
          Mair: 371-386             Heavenly Questions
(Add several appropriate secondary sources, such as sections from The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Soulstealers, or other materials.

Come Live With Me:
Barbarians, "Otherness," and Foreign Beliefs in the 
Middle Kingdom and its Neighbors
Roy Clark
12 May 1973
          Ebrey: 54-56               The World Beyond China
          Ebrey: 97-104             Buddhist Doctrines and Practices
          Ebrey: 109-111            Cultural Differences Between North and South
          Ebrey: 169-171           Longing to Recover the North
          Mair: 209-213             Journey North
          Mair: 274                    A Fan From Korea
(Add several appropriate secondary sources, such as sections from The Gate of Heavenly Peace, The History in Three Keys, or other materials.

Somewhere Between Right and Wrong:
Education, Moral Learning, and Proper Conduct in Early China
Earl Thomas Conley
18 December 1982
          Ebrey: 38-41               Two Avengers
          Ebrey: 91-96               Ge Hong's Autobiography
          Ebrey: 128-131           The Examination System
          Ebrey: 195-199           A Schedule for Learning
          Mair: 254                    Don't Read Books!
          Mair: 580-589             An Explication of "Progress in Learning"
(Add several appropriate secondary sources, such as sections from The Talented Women of the Zhang Family, In One’s Own Shadow, or other materials.
***  ***
HIST 210—Chinese History and Culture
Paper Assignment
Source Paper Checklist

______ Read the assignment carefully and think about possible paper topics.  E-mail (or stop by and ask) me any questions you may have about the assignment.

______ Choose eight-to-twelve sources from an array of syllabus materials.  

______Create a provisional title for your paper and e-mail it to me with the sources in the "examples" form listed above. DUE NO LATER THAN Wednesday, April 12 by 10:00 p.m. 
[e] Representation RF

______ Carefully (re-)read your chosen sources in light of what you have learned from the course thus far.  
______Write an essay about Chinese society, culture, or politics by relying primarily on those sources you have chosen.  Your "audience" should be very intelligent people (such as your professors in other classes) who know relatively little about China.  You are the expert, but you must convey the cultural and historical details you have learned to someone who knows a good deal about academic argument.

For this assignment ONLY, you should not make a separate title page.  Center your title at the top of the first page, followed by your sources—exactly as shown in the examples on pages two and three.  Begin your essay immediately below.  Double-space the text of the essay.  Finally, put the word count number at the very end of the paper.

There are two posts in this assignment (the "prompt" and "advice").
Click below for the other section of this assignment:
Writing From Sources A                    Writing From Sources B
[f] Nooks and Crannies RF
Due as a hard copy in my office (MI 111)
by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 23.

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