What you'll learn

  • How to break history into periods based on social, political, economic, intellectual, and cultural changes.

  • How to develop your own unique approach to history.

  • How to gain a critical appreciation of China’s literary, philosophical, political, and cultural resources.

  • How to express ideas more clearly and confidently.

  • How to think critically through the study of primary and secondary sources.

Course description

Fundamental changes in government, the economy, and broader society took place between the 8th and 11th centuries in China. The state aristocracy gave way to new literati elite: educated men who sought to enter government through competitive examinations. A new kind of Confucianism also took shape, which prized the moral autonomy of individuals. With this, the later imperial period of China’s history begins.

From our series on Chinese history and culture, this course focuses on the changes brought by the Tang-Song transition, including the reconfiguration of power, urbanization, Neo-Confucianism, and the shared values as expressed in the state examination system.

Join us to learn how a shifting social and political elite ultimately brings unity to China, ushering in an age of global empire.


Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

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