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Han China and the Fall of Rome


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#1 Richard Smart

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 11:25 AM

Does anyone have anything on the Historiography of the fall of Rome? I need something for tomorrow and I want to tackle the historiography from Gibbon on... A-level standard??

What about the fall of Han China? I am drawing a complete blank on this one, even internet searches for documents are not helping...

Thanks in advance...
Richard
Richard Smart
Oakland Mills High School
Columbia, MD, USA.

http://learningsmart.org

"There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England." - Sir Winston Churchill

#2 Richard Smart

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 01:47 AM

Does no one teach Han China or the Fall of the Roman Empire??

I made some stuff on the fall of Rome, but I found very little on Han China. Help would be appreciated!

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Edited by Richard Smart, 15 October 2007 - 01:49 AM.

Richard Smart
Oakland Mills High School
Columbia, MD, USA.

http://learningsmart.org

"There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England." - Sir Winston Churchill

#3 DAJ Belshaw

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 10:55 AM

Try Google Book Search. :)

Doug :hehe:

#4 Tom Morton

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 01:53 AM

SPICE (Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education) at http://spice.stanfor...ient_china_the/ has produced a unit on the Han Dynasty that I taught a few years back. I found it very well constructed and engaging. I copied the description below:

This unit addresses a very simple question, a fact of life for all human societies. How and why do we create order in a world whose randomness and order are ours to interpret? What religious, political, economic, philosophical, and other approaches has humankind adopted throughout history? How do these approaches work, and what is their purpose? This unit attempts to give us a taste of one country's answer. Our focus is the Han Dynasty of China, the empire which, during the time of the ancient Roman empire, was able to unite China successfully for an extended period of time (over 400 years), after its predecessor, the Qin Dynasty, first united the whole of China in 221 B.C. but lasted only 15 years.

How was the notion of order central to life in China during the Han Dynasty? The activities contained in this unit examine order in politics, in society, in human relationships, in the relationship to the land, in music, and writing. These six activities provide the conceptual redundancy students need in order to expand their understanding of the concept of order. Resources using a variety of multiple abilities are provided in order to make the content accessible to a wide range of students.

#5 Matt Willett

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 03:59 AM

From looking at your Roman document excerpts, you're basically trying to construct your own Han vs Roman decline DBQ of sorts? I would love to see a team of history professors tackle that one--especially the Han side of it.

The gradual loss of de facto political control by the Han into the era of the Three Kingdoms is considerably more complex and less sexy than the dramatic and more profound portrayals of Rome's collapse in Western Europe. There are of course parallels to be made. Here are some places I would suggest for primary source material:

Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. Edited by Patricia Buckley Ebrey

Sources of World History Vol I. Mark A. Kishlansky

Also the best internet repository of East Asian related primary sources is the "Internet East Asian Sourcebook" http://www.fordham.e...tasiasbook.html

For a general survey of Chinese/East Asian history I recommend
East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History by Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais

#6 Richard Smart

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 10:31 AM

Thanks for the ideas.

Tom: Do you think the Stanford until would be appropriate for AP? I don't want to purchase anything that will not be rigorous enough.

Matt: Thanks for the sourcebook reference. I will definitely be purchasing them. You can never have enough primary sources. I was disappointed in the Fordham East Asia sourcebook. I went there last week and found little on my topic, at least compared to their other offerings.

Does this mean that this topic is rarely covered by either English-speaking historians, or indeed our community? The more I study East Asian history, the more interested I become, and the fewer sources I seem to find!

Anyone out there have some preprepared materials of their own to share?? I am heading for the Shang/Tang dynasties in two weeks and I have nothing on them either!

Richard
Richard Smart
Oakland Mills High School
Columbia, MD, USA.

http://learningsmart.org

"There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England." - Sir Winston Churchill

#7 Tom Morton

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 12:14 AM

Tom: Do you think the Stanford until would be appropriate for AP? I don't want to purchase anything that will not be rigorous enough.

Probably not without adaptation, but the questions are thoughtful and the primary resources, as I recall, are rich. They include drawings, text, a cassette of music from the Han dynasty, a diagram of rice fields, all with the theme of order. You can download the Table of Contents at the web site to give you a better idea.

#8 Matt Willett

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 03:05 AM

Does this mean that this topic is rarely covered by either English-speaking historians, or indeed our community? The more I study East Asian history, the more interested I become, and the fewer sources I seem to find!


I think one problem Richard is that what you want to find on this particular topic is slightly contrived. You want to find parallels between the fall of Rome and the fall of the Han Dynasty. There ARE similarities between these two empires, but the "fall of Rome" is perceived to be an iconic and profoundly influential moment in European history. In Chinese historiography, the Han did not really decline in a particularly eventful way and the cultural and political consequences of that dynasty's decline was, in itself, not overwhelmingly significant in the long run. It was important, but it doesn't seem to have the same milestone status. Unlike Europe, the fall of the Han did not rip Chinese civilization in half for thousands of years to come. It was a more straightforward story of privatizing imperial land and the subtle decentralizing power shift over time, which would eventually re-centralize under new dynasties.

Of course these two empires provide rich ground for having students compare and contrast and maybe even analyze POV within historiography, but I don't think you'll find a range of rich sources from different perspectives on "fall of the Han" unless you really know where to dig and what you’re looking for (and it won't be found in any typical book of selected sources--perhaps check out academic journal articles on the subject).

Secondly, I think there is something to be said for the difference in textual sources between China and Europe during this time. China has a rich literary history but there is something distinctly different about European and Chinese primary sources (or at least those that have been preserved). Perhaps there is a good article out there somewhere that addresses this question--because it may be a clue at to why the decline of the Han is a less notable feature on the landscape of Chinese historiography.

I recently completed some graduate level work through the Freedman Foundation's National Consortium on Teaching about Asia. If you ever have the opportunity to go to these seminars in your part of the US, I highly recommend it. Plus once you complete the course you're eligible for discounted study tours to China, Japan, and Korea. You also get paid to take the course and you get hundreds of dollars of free materials (for example, the lesson Tom cited above was given to me for free at this thing).

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

Matt

#9 Richard Smart

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 01:01 PM

Matt: Thanks for your 2 cents... really helpful. I was beginning to realize that these two events are treated differently in the two cultures and indeed in the historiography. The AP test does ask them to compare the fall of both Empires... I think I am going to get the kids to engage in a significance activity based on a comparison of the historiography on their collapse. I am really enjoying learning history which is new to me... I am glad that we have people on the forum who can help... thanks!

I would love to read an article on the differences between Chinese and Western primary sources. It would be great to learn how to handle them differently.

Thanks again,

Richard
Richard Smart
Oakland Mills High School
Columbia, MD, USA.

http://learningsmart.org

"There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England." - Sir Winston Churchill




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