- Study the archaeology of China’s stone and bronze ages. What elements suggest indigenous origins for Chinese civilization? Are there elements that argue for outside influence?
- What are the limitations in using the term “feudalism” to describe the Zhou period? What are the advantages? How does this period compare with the feudal period in western Europe?
- Discuss the ways in which classical Chinese thought is a product of the realities of its time. Compare this with classical Greek, Roman, Indian, or Egyptian thought.
- Explore the role and importance of ritual (li) in ancient Chinese society.
- Investigate the origins of agriculture in China, and explore the impact of the development of agriculture on Chinese civilization.
- What is meant by the term “stimulus diffusion”? How does understanding this process help us understand ancient Chinese history?
- From any of the available English translations, analyze the moral and ethical teachings of the Daodejing. Compare these teaching with those found in the Analects of Confucius.
- Explore the origins of writing in China. When and why did writing develop? To what purposes was writing put? What was the long-term impact of the development of a Chinese writing system? Compare this with the development of writing in other cultures.
- Did ancient Chinese thinkers agree on the basic problems of Chinese society? Of so, how and why did their answers differ? What did the “Confucian” thinkers--Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi--have in common?
- Compare the ideas of China’s Legalists with those of Machiavelli. Do the same for China’s Confucians.