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Harvard China History course started yesterday


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Professor Elliot is dry as old toast when he lectures. But in a "behind the scenes" video, he becomes a little more animated as he talks about his student days in Shenyang. He also discloses that he can read original texts in Mongolian and Machu as well as classical and modern Chinese. The man is definitely no dummy.

 

1,239 students have successfully completed the first five course modules, doing all assignments and tests with a score of 75% or better. Each module lasts several weeks; they call them "mini-courses."

 

It's easy to just drop in and audit some lectures in a certain period in which you are interested, maybe listening to coverage of a certain Dynasty, such as the Song or the Ming, or about a certain movement, such as Confucianism or Daosim. We spent some good hours learning about the Tang poets.

 

The course remains free, although they have put out a call for donations, saying that it has been more costly than they first predicted and that even Harvard's pockets are not bottomless.

 

Here's a little blurb about what's coming up next:

 

"Our next module in Part 6, Hearts and Minds, begins tomorrow. It explores the consolidation of Qing power from the 1644 conquest up to 1683, focusing in particular on the wrenching dilemma facing Chinese literati during these transitional decades: To remain loyal to the Ming, or to serve the Qing?

 

You will learn about such famous figures as Shi Kefa, the "last upright man in the Ming," and the artist Bada Shanren, a member of the Ming imperial lineage who survived the conquest but lived his life out as a recluse, expressing his protest obliquely and poignantly in paintings of fish, birds, and rocks.

 

You will also explore the various means whereby the new rulers, and especially the Kangxi emperor, tried to win over the hearts and minds of literati in an effort - ultimately successful - to earn their support for the Manchu dynasty, which was nearly toppled by a major rebellion launched by the notorious Wu Sangui, China's equivalent of Benedict Arnold."

 

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