History of Cultural Exchanges between China and the Outside World

Semester: Spring

Lecturer: Prof. ZHANG Zhaoyang

Credit: 3

Course Description:

  • This course investigates cultural exchanges between China and the world during the past two thousand years. It will cover various topics, including the Silk Road trades, Maritime Silkroad, the receptions of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam by China, the spread of Chinese inventions to the Old World, Admiral Zheng He’s voyages from China to Africa during the 15th century, and etc. This Course is to improve cross-cultural understandings. It will demonstrate that even though China was geographically isolated from the rest of Eurasia by mountains, deserts and oceans, Chinese civilization managed to engage in important cultural exchanges with other major civilizations via land and ocean routes, and that had significant impacts both to the development of China and the world.This course encourages students to discover the past by analyzing primary sources and examining historical artifacts, and I will organize a field trip to Shanghai Museum.


Section 1: From the Origin to the Tang Dynasty

Week1: Early Chinese Civilization/Writing System/Imperial System 

Week 2: Relations between Qin-Han (221B.C.-A.D.220) and Xiongnu (Huns)  

Week 3: The Fall of the Han Imperial Order and the Fragmentation of China 

Week 4: The Rise of Sui-Tang (589-907) Cosmopolitanism

Week 5: Silk Road I-Trade and the Spread of Technology 

Week 6: Silk Road II-Buddhism, Persian Religion and Arts 

Section Two: Song and Yuan 

Week 7: The Fall of the Tang Imperial Order and the Fragmentation of China

Week 8: Song, Liao and Jin

Week 9: Maritime Trade

Week 10: Yuan and the Mongol Empire

Week 11: Silk Road III-Islam and Nestorian 

Section Three: Ming and Qing

Week 12: The Fall of Yuan and the Rise of Ming

Week 13: Admiral Zheng He’s Voyages 

Week 14: Field Trip 

Week 15: The First Encounter with the West-Jesuits in Ming and Qing China 

Grading Policy

Attendance & Discussion 30%
Final Research Paper 70%

Textbooks &References