Topics in Premodern Chinese History and its counterparts are intended to differ from commercial textbooks in several key...
Topics in Premodern Chinese History and its counterparts are intended to differ from commercial textbooks in several key respects. First, these textbook modules are designed to fit perfectly with specific courses at PSU. They are intended to reduce greatly the need for taking notes and the usual anxieties about what information is of greater or lesser importance in the course. Properly used, these books can reduce note taking by as much as 80-90% and should help hold the quantity of information to manageable proportions (assuming reasonably good study habits, of course).In terms of its approach to the subject matter, Topics in Premodern Chinese History emphasizes a succession of topics rather than strict adherence to the flow of time. In a general way, the chapters move from earlier periods of time to later periods of time, but their content and organization gives top priority to coverage of topics. These topics, while important and, hopefully, interesting are but a small subset of the content of Chinese history. Others putting together a book like this might select a significantly different set of topics. While the "mainstream" narrative of politics and institutions is present in these pages, the emphasis is on social and cultural history wherever possible.More generally, a goal of this book and the course as a whole is to encourage broad, integrative thinking about history and human affairs. Readers are encouraged to compare Chinese history with the histories of other parts of the world and with contemporary problems and issues. Here and there, readers are also encouraged to think about the process of history making (i.e., writing) itself. How, in other words, have specific people or groups constructed their pasts, and what consequences might their choices have brought about? Constructing history is an ongoing human endeavor, and it is often fraught with controversy. In order usefully to think about larger issues, it is necessary to reduce the scope of coverage in a course like this and to increase the depth. In other words, it is better to study a smaller number of things in greater depth than to attempt a quick, superficial survey of a larger number of topics. Topics in Premodern Chinese History was written with these general goals in mind.This book and its companions do a reasonably good job of solving a practical problem that inevitably occurs in survey history courses.
Apr 13, 2008
Apr 22, 2014
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