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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Intellectual Change in Early China: Warring States and Han by The Chinese University of Hong Kong

117 ratings

About the Course

This sequence of four courses will propose a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Chinese cultural history conceived of as a succession of modes of rationality (philosophical, bureaucratic, and economic). The focus will be on the moments of paradigm shift from one mode of rationality to another. For each of these moments, cultural facts and artifacts—thought, literature, ritual—will be examined in relationship to changing social, political, and economic systems. The first two courses will cover the periods of the Warring States (481-256 BCE) and the Period of Division (220-589 CE), with a brief excursion into the Han (206 BCE-220 CE). The Warring States laid the social and cultural foundations for the emergence of the imperial mode of rationality; the Period of Division saw the Buddhist “conquest” of China and the emergence of a rationality defined by the opposition of the Three Teachings to shamanism, that is, of a clear contrast between elite and popular culture. The third and fourth courses will focus on the emergence of modern China in the Song-Yuan (960-1368) and of today’s China 1850 to the present. We will see how the modern attack on religion, redefined as "superstition", led not only to religious reform movements but also to a society in which science and the nation became the primary value systems promoted by the state. The courses are listed below: A Critical Cultural History of China - Early China I: Intellectual Change in the Warring States and Han (481 BCE-220 CE) A Critical Cultural History of China - Early China II: Religious Transformation in the Period of Division (220-589 CE) A Critical Cultural History of China - Modern China I: Religion and Thought in the Song, Jin, and Yuan (960-1368) A Critical Cultural History of China - Modern China II: Structuring Values (1850-2015)...

Top reviews


Nov 30, 2018

Fascinating course on an era of intellectual change .Those Ancient elite literati knew a thing or two about how to use propaganda and ritual.


Jul 5, 2018

A challenging but rewarding class. Good instructor. I'd like the instructor to show a outline at the beginning of each module.

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1 - 25 of 38 Reviews for Intellectual Change in Early China: Warring States and Han

By Michał D

May 7, 2019

I've come to learn about the only openly atheistic country of note and right off the bat in an introduction an american is trying to redifine religion in order to persuade me that non-religious people don't exist because religion really just means "structural values", and that right after pointing out correctly that indeed religion is just one element of broader culture. Perhaps that broader culture might be where "structural values" come from instead? Not exactly what I would call trustworthy or worthwhile source of information, but then again, being an atheist I apparently don't even exist, and neither does this review.


Apr 25, 2020

I appreciate with sincerity that the material of this course is offered at all. It's not like you have a bunch of choices when you want to learn this particular subject matter in a free, non-credit, online form. For the most part the assigned readings were outstanding. I read the entirety of the text and found answers to things I had considered in the past.

The course could be improved in a few ways. First instead of the videos primarily showing the instructor talking with an occasional Power Point slide, something else should be displayed. This could included some things such as maps, pictures of the individuals discussed, time lines, and images of some of the places discussed. It is of little benefit to show someone talking and showing slides of text that is in the transcript. Second, the lectures and quizzes do not do service to the readings. The readings are extensive and detailed. I understand that the class cannot cover everything, but a 10 to 20 minute lecture is maybe covering 20% of the material and the quizzes even less.

To be clear I appreciate that this material is offered at all. With a few improvements to presentation this course would be even better.

By David O C

May 16, 2020

Excellent course on China's early culture surrounding this era and covering Daoism, Taoism and Confucianism.

By Mairearad N

Aug 14, 2020

Excellent course! A really enjoyable dive into the religious history of China. I'd recommend getting the course books if you can as the recommended readings provide a lot of context. I studied The Chinese University of Hong Kong's courses on Chinese Traditional Medicine before this, which was also beneficial. This course really was fascinating and I can't wait to take the follow up three!

By Sara F d S

Apr 19, 2020

This course was a revelation. I had taken it at CUHK 10 years ago and it stayed with me ever since. I am so grateful that CUHK has decided to share Dr. Lagerwey's course with the world. It is a true eye-opener for those who are interested in China, but have not managed to go past the news, modern cultural propaganda and also mainstream ideas about Chinese history and thought, which mainly derive from a focus on a limited number of elite documents and elite intellectual debates (Confucius, Laozi, court-sponsored historical records, etc.), while disregarding historical context and misrepresenting the major influence that religious discourse has had on Chinese thought and on the organization of Chinese society at all levels, including at the level of the elites. It was also the first time I got information on the importance of popular religion and local communities in China, which delivers a serious blow to the usual top-down views on Chinese history and society. In sum, this course (together with the 3 additional courses presented by Dr. Lagerwey) provides an excellent framework and a slew of textual sources (sometimes confronting them with contradictory archaeological evidence) that allow us to understand how power has been obtained, maintained and consolidated with each paradigm shift, especially at the level of discourse, throughout all of Chinese documented history, since the Shang dynasty to the present day.

By Alicia H

May 10, 2020

I really enjoyed this course! Although I already had a good deal of background knowledge on Chinese philosophy, this course could further add to it substantially! Lectures are easy to listen to. Readings, if taken seriously, definitely take longer than just 10 mins. For total beginners I think it may take more effort and time to understand the sometimes complex topics. I could definitely manage with 2 hours a week in addition to the lectures.

By Shin S

Jun 2, 2023

This course is very dear to me in that it makes us understand more about my culture as a Korean and Chinese roots of it. The narrative and introduction was both imaginative and explanatory. If you guys are into China's ancient traditional culture, especially religion, I definitely recommend this series of lecture. Xiexie, laoshi!

By Giancarlo A M

Jun 29, 2020

Muy buen curso, ordenado y con información de primera. Vengo ya de una práctica de más de diez años en medicina, artes internas y metafísica chinas y los contenidos de este curso me han permitido posicionarme mejor históricamente y entender de dónde provienen muchos de los conocimientos que me dedico a estudiar.

By Casey R

Nov 10, 2020

This wasn't even close to what I thought it was. I appreciate that this course is available online. It provides a much needed survey of an important theme throughout Chinese history. I'm looking forward to the other three.

By Troy W S

Dec 1, 2018

Fascinating course on an era of intellectual change .Those Ancient elite literati knew a thing or two about how to use propaganda and ritual.

By Инна В

Oct 28, 2018

Great course, wonderful professor! Thank you for this excellent journey into amazing Chinese culture! Looking forward to the upcoming parts!

By Fred I

Jul 6, 2018

A challenging but rewarding class. Good instructor. I'd like the instructor to show a outline at the beginning of each module.

By David H

Jul 14, 2022

Lots of valuable information to put this amazing subject all together in a very logical manner.

By Razvan T

Aug 5, 2020

Thank you so much Prof Lagerwey and Coursera. All my gratitude for this brilliant journey.

By nimesha e

Jun 1, 2024

This course is very important and helpful my studies. Thank you prof. Thank you coursera.

By Per N

Mar 10, 2019

Very thorough and with a very inspiring and knowledgeable lecturer. Highly recommended!

By Aleksandra M

Aug 20, 2018

Brilliant course. Strongly recommended to anyone who teaches and studies ancient China.

By Greysia S

May 7, 2024

thank you for the course. it help me a lot to understand the basic concept of chinese

By Luis P R

Feb 12, 2022

Excellent course with very intense information and good quality formation

By Rehina A

Aug 27, 2019

This is an extremely interesting, informative and inspiring course

By Alan R G

Sep 23, 2022

This course is fantastic-especially when one is a China scholar.

By Claudio P

May 27, 2022

very interesting and well explained

By Gabriel M R L

Apr 22, 2019

I really have fond of this course !

By Kelvin

May 18, 2018

worth the while to do this studies

By Miriam G P E

Nov 21, 2022

 Excellent course !