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Cosmopolitan Tang -- A new Harvard-X course just starting


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Started tonight. 


One of the things that distinguishes these Harvard "China-X" courses from most of the other programs that I've studied on line is that they draw on a wide and rich variety of resources. It's not just one (or two) professors talking about this or that, but the two main professors bring in about 20 other distinguished authorities on particular aspects of the subject. 


They sometimes "interview" these authorities, most of whom are Harvard faculty, about their special domains. More often, these other experts give a couple of "guest lectures." When discussing Tang pottery, they bring in an expert from the art department and actually take a "field trip" to the Harvard Asian Art Museum. Similar approach with music and poetry. Inventive and innovative. Never boring. 


I got a taste of Tang during part of the long China overview course a couple years ago. Now look forward to learning more in this short, focused one. 


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Thank you @abcdefg. I have just signed up for this and so far have watched 4 videos. Really interesting and easy to digest. Really cannot wait for the part on poetry and calligraphy. I'm currently reading the biography of Li Bai so really want to know more about Tang poets and poetry.

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/12/2019 at 3:58 PM, realmayo said:

Does this one have anything from Stephen Owen in it? As far as I'm concerned he's basically god.


I haven't yet reached the material which features him. 

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I barreled through the first section (Section 12: The Unified Empire) one evening but then lost interest. It's -- how shall I put it -- too easy, too simplistic, not as engaging or interesting as is promised in the introductory video. It's just, to quote @abcdefg, "one (or two) professors talking about this or that." They probably did it differently in the first course. Things will probably improve in later sections. But I've lost interest.

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I almost finish section 13 about Tang Poetry. If you are a beginner in Chinese poetry like me and interested in it, I think it’s a good primer. It discusses a couple of poems by Dufu and Wang Wei in details. The structure of Tang Poetry, the restriction of regulated verse etc. The part with Stephen Owen is mainly a discussion of a poem by Wang Wei with his students on how to read Chinese poem, how to understand and appreciate it, how do you know a good poem from a bad poem, can someone who doesn’t understand Chinese read and appreciate Chinese poetry etc.


This is my first time joining an online course like this and I really like it so far. Very informative and as I say a good primer but you definitely have to see much more than 2-3 poems being discussed in details by people who know what they are talking about before you have a reasonable understanding of Chinese poetry. I only have one part to finish I think on section 13 then the next section is on calligraphy. I’m not sure but I think I might do better in calligraphy than poetry. 

Edited by amytheorangutan
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