Sharing syllabi

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:36 am

As is becoming a timeless tradition here at Frog in a Well, I am posting my syllabi for comment and suggestions. Not much China stuff this semester. I am stuck teaching Modern Japan (actually, I kind of like Japan) so there is not much China stuff. I am trying a bit more primary source stuff in the Japan class. I am also teaching ASIA 200, our introductory course on Asian Studies. I posted a version of this before, and made a few changes based on what people told me. (Sorry, the old version is now gone, but I really did make some changes.) I was aiming at something inter-disciplinary and Pan-Asian, but I think I ended up with something that looks like it was done by a China historian.



Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 1:38 am


From other sources:


Working like a slave

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:04 am

I have been to busy to post much of late, as I have been very busy. Not quite working like a slave however,

as the slave contract below shows. I use this in classes as a nice picture of the Han economy, but it is also a

lot of fun in other ways, so I thought I would post it for the beneift of our countless readers.

The Contract for a Youth

WangPao(fl. 61-54 b.c.e.)

Wang Tzu-yuan of Shu Commandery went to the Chien River on business, and went up to the home of the widow Yang Hui, who had a male slave named Pien-liao. Wang Tzu-yuan requested him to go and buy some wine. Picking up a big stick, Pien-liao climbed to the top of the grave mound and said: “When my master bought me, Pien-liao, he only contracted for me to care for the grave and did not contract for me to buy wine for some other gentleman.”

Wang Tzu-yuan was furious and said to the widow: “Wouldn’t you prefer to sell this slave?”

Yang Hui said: “The slave’s father offered him to people, but no one wanted him.”

Wang Tzu-yuan immediately settled on the sale contract, etc. The slave again said: “Enter in the contract everything you wish to order me to do. I, Pien-liao, will not do anything not in the contract.” Wang Tzu-yuan said: “Agreed!” The text of the contract said:

Third year of Shen-chiao, the first month, the fifteenth day, the gentleman Wang Tzu-yuan, of Tzu-chung, purchases from the lady Yang Hui of An-chih village in Chengtu, the bearded male slave, Pien-liao, other hus­band’s household.

The fixed sale price is 15,000 cash. The slave shall obey orders about all kinds of work and may not argue.

He shall rise at dawn and do an early sweeping. After eating he shall wash up. Ordinarily he should pound the grain mortar, tie up broom straws, carve bowls and bore wells, scoop out ditches, tie up fallen fences, hoe the garden, trim up paths and dike up plats of land, cut big flails, bend bamboos to make rakes, and scrape and fix the well pulley. In going and coming he may not ride horseback or in the cart, nor may he sit crosslegged or make a hubbub. When he gets out of bed he shall shake his head to wake up, fish, cut forage, plait reeds and card hemp, draw water for gruel, and help in making tsu-mo drink. He shall weave shoes and make other coarse things, catch birds on a gummed pole, knot nets and catch fish, shoot wild geese with arrows on a string, and shoot wild ducks with a pellet bow. He shall ascend the mountains to shoot deer, and go into the waters to catch turtles. He shall dig a pond in the garden to raise fish and a hundred or so geese and ducks; and shall drive away owls and hawks. Holding a stick, he shall herd the pigs. He shall plant ginger and rear sheep; rear the shotes and colts; remove manure and always keep things clean; and feed the horses and cattle. When the drum sounds four he shall arise and give them a midnight addition of fodder.

In the second month at the vernal equinox he shall bank the dikes and repair the boundary walls of the fields; prune the mulberry trees, skin the palm trees, plant melons to make gourd utensils, select eggplant seeds for planting, and transplant onion sets; burn plant remains to generate the fields, pile up refuse and break up lumps in the soil. At midday he shall dry out things in the sun. At cockcrow he shall rise and pound grain in the mortar, exercise and curry the horses, the donkeys, and likewise the mules—three classes.

When there are guests in the house he shall carry a kettle and go after wine; draw water and prepare the evening meal; wash bowls and arrange food trays; pluck garlic from the garden; chop vegetables and slice meat; pound meat and make
soup of tubers; stew fish and roast turtle; boil tea and fill the utensils. When the dinner is over he shall cover and put away leftovers; shut the gates and close up the passageways for dogs; feed the pigs and air the dogs.

He shall not argue or fight with the neighbors. The slave should only drink bean-water and may not be greedy for wine. If he wishes to drink good wine he may only wet the lips and rinse the mouth; he may not empty the dipper or drain the cup. He may not go out at dawn and return at night, or have dealings with close chums.

Behind the house there are trees. He should hew them and make a boat, going downriver as far as Chiang-chou and up to Chien-chu. On behalf of the storehouse assistants he shall seek spending money, rejecting the strings of cash which are defective. He shall buy mats at Mien-t’ing, and when traveling between Tu and Lo he should trade in the small markets to get powder for the ladies. When he returns to Tu he shall carry hemp about on his pole, transporting it out to the side markets. He shall lead dogs for sale and peddle geese. At Wu-yang he shall buy tea, and he shall carry lotus on his pole from the Yang family pool. When he travels to market assemblies he shall carefully guard against the practice of theft. When he enters the market he may not squat like a barbarian, loll about, or indulge in evil talk and cursing. He shall make many knives and bows, and take them into Yi-chou to barter for oxen and sheep. The slave shall teach himself to be smart and clever, and may not be silly and stupid.

He shall take an axe and go into the mountains; cut memorandum tablets and hew cart shafts; if there are leftovers he should make sacrificial stands, benches, and wooden shoes, as well as food pans for pigs. He shall burn wood to make charcoal; collect stones and heap them into retaining walls, make huts and roof houses; and whittle books to take the place of commercially prepared writing tablets. On his return at dusk he should bring two or three bundles of dry wood.

In the fourth month he should transplant; in the ninth month he should reap; and in the tenth month gather in the beans. He shall gather quantities of hemp and rushes and stretch them into rope. When it rains and there is nothing to do, he should plait grass and weave reeds. He shall plant and cultivate peach, plum, pear, and persimmon trees. He shall set out mulberry trees, one every thirty feet in rows eight feet apart, and fruit trees in corresponding sequence with the rows and intervals matching. When the fruit is ripe and is being picked or stored he may not suck or taste it. At night if the dogs bark he should arise and warn the neighbors, block the gate and bar the doors, mount the tower and beat the drum, don his shield and grasp his spear. Returning down he shall make three circuits of inspection.

He shall be industrious and quick-working, and he may not idle and loaf. When the slave is old and his strength spent, he shall plant marsh grass and weave mats. When his work is over and he wishes to rest he should pound a picul of grain.

Late at night when there is no work he shall wash clothes really white. If he has private savings they shall be the master’s gift or from guests. The slave may not have evil secrets; affairs should be open and reported. If the slave does not heed instructions, he shall be bastinadoed a hundred strokes.

The reading of the text of the contract came to an end. The slave was speechless and his lips were tied. Wildly he beat his head on the ground, and hit himself with his hands; from his eyes the tears streamed down, and the drivel from his nose hung a foot long.

He said: “If it is to be exactly as master Wang says, I would rather return soon along the yellow-soil road, with the grave worms boring through my head. Had I known before I would have bought the wine for master Wang. I would not have dared to do that wrong.”

From Mair


Virtual nationalism

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 8:45 pm

Via ESNW I found this interesting post about anti-japanese attitudes in Chinese virtual worlds.


Not much to add, really.



Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 8:33 am

I caught a couple of episodes of Firefly on TV a bit back. The thing that hooked me was that some of the characters were swearing in Chinese, of a sort. The series is about space smugglers in the far future, and every so often one of the crew will break into Chinese. The Chinese (Mandarin) is not very good, and not very important to the plot. Plus, looking at the on-line glossary of all the Chinese used in the show (I love geeks) it seems that a lot of is stuff that Americans might say that was then translated into Chinese. Or at least it does not sound very slang-y to me. Of course I don’t hang with Chinese space pirates all that much so maybe they really do say things like 太空所有的星球塞盡我的屁股 and 我的媽和她的瘋狂的外甥都

What I found interesting is that according to Wikipedia the explanation for this in the show’s backstory is that the Chinese and the Americans were the main early explorers of space, and thus Chinese is a pretty common language in the future. I’m not really sure the show pulls that off. Nobody seems to really speak Chinese, they just toss in a few words here and there. Still, it was interesting to see the Chinese as the people with a future. The obvious comparisons are Burgess’s nadsat, from Clockwork Orange, which has a lot of Russian in it, and Blade Runner, which I remember as having a bit of Japanese. Now making Science Fiction with Russian in it would seem weird, and even Japanese does not work as well.


Used books online in China

Filed under: — Scott Relyea @ 7:36 am

The book markets and used bookstores of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and pretty much everywhere in between; their dusty piles of colourful, frayed cultural revolution cartoon books interspersed with old dictonaries, Mao buttons, and piles of post-liberation 檔案 or pre-liberation photos… This is undoubtedly a scene those of us researching or studying in China have passed through numerous times. Sometimes on these hunts we’ve also found more than simple kitsch or interesting trinkets to disperse as gifts to friends and family on our return, sometimes even come across the odd Republican era textbook or early PRC atlas (one of which lies at the origin of my own dissertation project). The amount of particularly CR materials for sale at these markets may seem endless, but then again so too may the stacks of unsorted books in the more permanent, neighbouring bookshops seem almost limitless. It could take countless days of scrutinising, sneezing visits, though, to even begin to be aware of what’s available, and to find what’s related to your research…

So after getting consumed in the twice weekly book market near 杜甫草堂 Du Fu’s Cottage soon after arriving in Chengdu earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised that some random, non-linear meandering online brought me to a web resource that has been absolutely invaluable for discovering just what lies within those dusty piles. 孔夫子旧书网 Kongfz (http://www.kongfz.com/index.php) is a bit like Biblio with which many of you might be more familiar. The site claims to be: 全球最大的中文旧书网站 Its constantly growing database renders easily searchable the holdings of literally thousands of bookshops in all corners of the PRC, large and perhaps surprisingly minuscule. Indeed, what I found when I went looking for one of these ‘shops’ in Chengdu was the owner and his brother having a quiet lunch in their sparsely furnished flat, while each room in the flat across the landing was overflowing with the books they had for sale. The booksellers themselves maintain their own online databases and many seem to add new books daily, as well as sell books daily, so there’s a bit of urgency sometimes to reserve what interests you the moment you see it as the next day it may already have been sold.

Most of the books on offer are out of print, published over the last two decades or so, (as print runs were generally quite small), but what’s available goes well beyond such more purely secondary sources. Many published collections of archival materials as well as 地方誌 both old and new and other collections of original materials are available for sometimes widely varying prices, as well as reprints of Qing or Republican era books. Among the items I’ve purchased was a 油印本 version of a book which original a certain library in Chengdu was only grudgingly willing to let me see, but certainly not photocopy or even photograph.

Original copies of some Republican and even Qing books also are listed on Kongfz, though the prices tend to be a bit high. Overall, the cost of most books is quite reasonable, but purchases can only be made in China as Kongfz has no online purchase facility; rather you must first make a deposit into the bookseller’s bank account and then wait for the books to arrive. Through quite a few orders, I’ve only had one small problem, and the ratings for each shop are quite high, so it seems overall quite a reliable service. And indeed extremely helpful for research. Check it out once in a while and you might just find that book that all your Chinese colleagues and friends have referred to but until now has been maddeningly elusive…


Chinese in Motion

Migration and identity are tough issues, particularly as our tendency towards literalism (you thought we were all postmodernists? Not even close.) with regard to concepts like nation and ethnicity continues to grow. Using Nationmaster, Sun Bin produced some lovely maps of the Chinese Diaspora. My only big quibble is the lack of data for the Russian Federation, given the thousands of Chinese in the Russian East before the PRC and particularly in the present. Still, it’s a fantastic example of the ease with which data and imaging tools can produce fantastic graphics.

A while back, I ran across this critique of media coverage of Taiwan [via] from Michael Turton (a fantastic Taiwan-based blogger, with lots of links and interesting things to say, including a regular roundup of Taiwan blogs that looks like a great resource) which actually illustrated for me this tendency to literalism quite strongly. In this particular post he actually argues that “China has never owned Taiwan” largely because Taiwan was “never the possession of any ethnic Chinese emperor.” In other words, the Qing dynasty which conquered Taiwan and which was the acknowledged possessor of it in international law (up to 1895, when the Japanese got it as part of the Sino-Japanese war indemnity), doesn’t count as Chinese.

From a strictly literal ethnic point of view, and based on thoroughly modern concepts of international law, there’s some grounding to that: the Qing dynasty was Manchurian in origin, ethnically distinct and based on conquest. Though Qing emperors lived very typical Chinese Imperial lives, throughout the Qing, the government was deeply concerned that non-Manchu Chinese would discover some ethnic solidarity or identity (Kuhn’s Soulstealers is a good example, from mid-dynasty) and there’s no question that part of the fall of the Qing was related to irredentist Han nationalism. But that’s a very late development; there’s about two centuries of the Qing dynasty in which nobody seriously questions the legitimacy of Manchu rule. If the Qing isn’t legitimately Chinese, then the modern borders of China — based on Qing conquests — need serious reconsideration, particularly in the west.

But the “strictly literal ethnic” and “thoroughly modern concepts of international law” are absurdities when applied that far back or that literally. While I’m sympathetic to Turton’s position on Taiwanese independence, applying the same principles would delegitimize its current government — based on ethnic migration and conquest — and probably (since Turton seems to acknowledge Japanese colonization) result in US control of the island. More to the point, it presumes an historical purity which runs counter to all experience.

Non Sequitur: a bibliography of Chinese popular religion scholarship


Asian History Carnival #6

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:27 am

The 6th Asian History Carnival will be hosted at Frog in a Well – Korea on August 8th! We are looking for good posts on Asian history posted around the internet in the past month or two. For more details, check out the Asian History Carnival homepage.

Please nominate postings for the carnival here. If you use del.icio.us to tag your links, another way you can nominate postings is to simply tag them “ahcarnival” (http://del.icio.us/tag/ahcarnival/) and I’ll look through the tagged postings when the time comes. The deadline for nominations is August 7th.


A Guokui for the contemporary masses

Filed under: — Scott Relyea @ 9:28 am

I was checking through CDT the other day (as I do when I’m in the mood to circumvent certain walls that surround my current location) and came across the following translation from 東南西北 (EastSouthWestNorth), an excellent blog out of Hong Kong with translations into English of news articles and blog entries from the PRC. It’s apparently often the first source for many New York Times correspondents in Asia…

满城尽带黄金假 (at ESWN, original Chinese here) accompanied by photos perfectly depicts what we could say is the flip side of the economic miracle that continues to attract the blind rush to market of corporations across the globe, the flip side of society in the aftermath of a revolution of sorts. Indeed, with the apparent growth in income disparity across China, particularly evident within cities where those with power and money continue to amass but more, I was reminded of one of the illustrations I ran across in 通俗畫報 (Popular Pictorial), published in Chengdu in 1912, to the left; click on the image for a larger version.

Though there’s no specific indication of what city is the setting for the blog tale, I’m quite certain that the grey tile and glass in the first photo is the east corner of Chengdu Railway Station. In Chengdu, like many other cities across China, the municipal government and its ‘plan’ for growth and prosperity is the gospel of development, though this development seems to favour the welcoming of Armani and Sofitel along vast faux marble and concrete pedestrian shopping areas glittering with the fountains and neon of apparent prosperity. There was no neon in 1912, but as is apparent from this image, and as I’ve read in a few works on Chengdu, the viewpoint of these ancestors of many of today’s powerful elite wasn’t too different…


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