Archived online site: Early China


This site is an edited version of a course website that was live for well over a decade until its last iteration in 2012. The course was an introductory survey of early Chinese history, designed primarily for college juniors and seniors at Indiana University, Bloomington, offered through the Department of History.

I taught this course from the late 1980s until 2012. After I retired in 2013, I left the materials for the 2012 version online because I believed that teachers, students, and general readers interested in the topic might benefit from them, even though I did not intend to update them further.

This year, 2019, changes in the IT platform for these materials required that I move the site, and in doing so I have re-edited many of the pages to create what I'm labeling an "archived" version. I have removed such things as homework and paper assignments, test preparation sheets, etc., and added to the site the PowerPoint decks I used in my lectures, with a few added comments for clarity. My purpose has been to create a site that could more easily be used for self-study, and one where teachers, in particular, might find raw materials that they could adapt for use in their own courses. For these purposes, in not-for-profit contexts, copyright on all these materials is waived and permissions for use granted, with no requirement of citation.


The site Main Page has two links. "Basic Course Information" is simply the introduction students were given in the form of a syllabus, but without specific class schedules. The Schedule link is the primary entry into the site. It leads to a grid of thirty-eight class topics, each item linked to an introductory page for that day's class. On these pages, links assigned readings and lecture PowerPoint decks are included. To make the course more efficient and save student money, I prepared an online textbook from which all assigned readings were drawn, so the reading links are to material that can be treated as open source for not-for-profit use. (I have not archived student journal projects, which were designed to ensure that students would read a wide variety of scholarly articles with viewpoints other than my own.) In some cases (e.g., the Confucian "Four Books" and early Daoist texts) readings are from complete translations that are posted online, and can be easily accessed independently on a general Resources page that I have posted on the "Chinatxt" master site of which this course site is one part. As for the PowerPoint decks, I'm unsure whether they will be helpful in understanding how the lectures were organized, but even if not, there may be some slides, especially those including maps and diagrams, that could be of use.

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I hope users of this site will bear three things in mind:

1) The presentation of early Chinese history here is shaped by my own research and views, and is in no way an "authoritative" version to which everyone in the field will subscribe. Other published descriptions, including ones by scholars I deeply respect, will differ in many ways. I wish I could claim all my points were correct, but I can only say that I believe them to be valid.

2) These materials are now nine years old, and every sign indicates they will get older. I am no longer working in the field of early China and any updates I might make would be scattershot and poorly informed. Readers should bear in mind that scholars still active are responding to new data and developing new ideas that, I regret to say, will in time supersede my own and those of others of my aging generation. I hope interested users of this site will go on to search out these newer ideas and discover the real pleasure of finding out that what they first learned was not the end of the story.

- Bob Eno, September 2019