(1) Unique features of Asia Upon learning the premodern histories of various Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea, India, Southeast Asia, central Asia), what are your thoughts on the major features of Asian civilizations, especially those features that are distinct from Western civilizations? These include geography, language, religion, philosophy, political system, social organization, status of women, and science/medicine/technology. (2) Historical changes within Asia One key lesson from this course is that any culture under study is subject to change over time. It is crucial thus to identify the pivotal transformative moments in the history of each civilization in Asia. For example, what are the key moments of change in the evolution of Confucianism in China? What about Buddhism in East Asia? How does social organization change over time in China and Japan? (3) Cultural comparisons between Asian civilizations Asia contains many countries, and each country has its unique history. Comparing these histories is informative for us to understand the diversity and connections of Asian civilizations. Consider China vs. Japan, or China vs. India, and discuss through concrete examples the following two aspects in premodern era: (i) Striking differences between two civilizations (at least two differences) (ii) Significant similarities between two civilizations (at least two similarities) (4) Between the agrarian and the nomad One important perspective to think about Asian history is to contemplate the relationship between agrarian culture (agriculture-based) and nomadic culture (horse-riding). What are the characteristics of these two cultures? And more importantly, how did the relationship between the two cultures play out in the history of China and the history of India, respectively? For example, what strategies did the Han Chinese develop to cope with the nomadic challenges? Conversely, how did the nomads (Mongols, for instance) rule the Han Chinese once it conquered China? How did the two mutually influence each other? Give specific examples to demonstrate your points. (5) Understanding the Silk Road What is the Silk Road? How does this course alter your understanding of the Silk Road? Here you need to conceive this concept in a broad sense, bringing all countries discussed in this course under consideration. You also need to pay attention to the overland silk road and maritime silk road that operated in a network. Give some concrete examples of the movement of people, things, and ideas in this vibrant network. Examples include Buddhist travelers, trade, diplomatic exchanges, and science and medicine. (6) Women in Asia What is the role of women in Asian history? How did women’s social status differ in China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia? How do you explain the difference? How did their social status change over time in these places, for example, the change of women’s status in India? In particular, think about the engagement of women or lack thereof in political activities, religious practices, and literature. Answer these six questions using the knowledge of Asian history. Thank you very much!
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