Debrief from yesterday’s debate: “Looking back from the twenty-first century, did Qin Shihuangdi help make China great again?”
Points in favor
Centralized rule through xian and jun (43)
Greatest possible mobilization of resources (44)
Uniformity of laws (44)
Universal application of punishment (44)
Built Great Wall (46)
Built roads and other public works (46)
Defeated the Xiongnu (46)
Destroyed the great houses (44)
Burden of imperial travel (44)
Superstitious, sometimes at great cost, e.g. search for great Zhou bronze vessel (45)
Many people died in construction of Great Wall (46)
Xiongnu defeat very costly and only temporary (46)
Did not tolerate dissent from loyal ministers (47)
Burned books (and scholars!) (48)
Did not last (50)
World of the Han: Context:
Last night’s reading was a flurry of information. Our task today is to try to make some sense of it with the purposes of (a) building on previous themes and discussions, (b) emphasizing and explaining the important aspects of the reading, (c) engaging in at least some discussion that rises above the level of fact collection.
First, the basics:
The Han dynasty (Han chao漢朝, 206 BCE–220 CE) succeeded the short-lived Qin dynasty (Qin chao 秦朝, 221–206 BCE) and was, in turn, succeeded by the Three Kingdoms period (Sanguo shidai 三國時代, 220–280 CE).
While the Qin (“Ch’in”) may be the source of the English term “China” and similar variations in other European languages, it is certain that Han is the inspiration for the Chinese terms for the dominant Han nationality (Hanzu漢族, according to the Chinese government the group comprises 92 percent of the population) and the most common term in Chinese for the Chinese language (Hanyu漢語).
The Han dynasty is considered among the most successful in the nation’s history.
Han emperors ruled over much of the land that comprises the People’s Republic of China today, and some land that is today part of Korea, Vietnam, and—depending on how one defines “rules”—several Central Asian republics.
The Han dynasty saw the emergence of several significant and longstanding trends in Chinese history, including state Confucianism, an aspirationally meritocratic bureaucracy, tensions with northern “barbarians,” and tales of overbearing empress dowagers.
In today’s discussion, you will be assigned two roles:
one will refer to the content that you will specialize in, and
the other will mark your role in supporting the facilitation of our conversation around the table.
A. Han Confucianism: the invention of the civil service examination and the creation of a state ideology.
B. Domestic reforms: centralization and monopolies.
C. Foreign policy: northern threats and borderland conquests.
Facilitator: Moderates team discussion and keeps the group on task.
Recorder: Focuses on taking excellent notes to share with classmates.
Timekeeper: Keeps the group aware of time constraints.
Devil’s Advocate: Raises counter-arguments and (constructive) objections, introduces alternative explanations and solutions.
Harmonizer: Strives to create a harmonious and positive team atmosphere and reach consensus (while allowing a full expression of ideas).
Prioritizer: Makes sure group focuses on most important issues and does not get caught up in details.
Explorer: Helps press the group to consider new perspectives or areas of inquiry.
Checker: Checks to make sure all group members understand the concepts and the group’s conclusions.
Researcher: Leads the search for evidence needed during the discussion.
Summarizing in Digital Notebook
Spend about 15 minutes to review your notes and write a summary for the last week or so.
“Questions & development of course themes (red font). These notes should take no more than fifteen minutes, once every week. You should review the other notes you have taken and write questions or themes that stand out from your review.”